The gravestones of Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg in Berlin’s Friedrichsfelde Cemetry (their original graves were desecrated by the Nazis)
On 15 January this year, as every year since 1920 (except during the Nazi era), thousands of men and women marched from central Berlin to the Friedrichsfelde Cemetry in east Berlin, the graveyard of the socialists.
Between 5- 10,000 marchers made up this year’s demonstration, including old East Germans, the leadership of Die Linke (The Left Party) and scores of young radicals and sympathisers. The march marks the anniversary of the murders of Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg- the leaders of the German Communist Party (KPD)- in Berlin on 15 January 1919. Their killers were right-wing soldiers (‘Freikorps’) under the command of Capt. Waldemar Pabst (1880- 1970) and Horst von Pflugk-Harttung (1889- 1967).
Since then, the annual march- which follows the rough route of the original funeral procession- has been the symbolic event in the calendar of the German left.
1. Marchers leave flowers at the graves of Liebknecht and Luxemburg (Photo: Der Spiegel)
2. Leaders of Die Linke (The Left Party) lead proceedings. From left to right: Petra Pau (MP for Marzahn- Hellersdorf), Lothar Bisky (Co-Chair of and MP), Gregor Gysi (Leading figure and MP) , Halina Wawzyniak (Deputy Chair of Die Linke and MP for Prenzlauer Berg (East), Berlin.) (Photo: Der Spiegel)
3. The gravestones of Liebknecht and Luxemburg.
4. The funeral procession for Karl Liebknecht and other murdered communists in January 1919. Luxemburg’s body was not recovered from the Landwehr Canal until June 1919.
5. A demonstration against the murders in Munich, Bavaria, 1919. (Bavaria State Archives)
6. Remembrance in the German Democratic Republic: East German leaders stand in front of the new Luxemburg- Liebknecht Memorial at the Friedrichsfelde Cemetry, 1946. They include GDR President Wilhelm Pieck, Franz Dahlem and later leader of the GDR Walter Ulbricht. The words emblazoned on the Memorial are Luxemburg’s last written words: ‘Ich war, ich bin, ich werde sein!’ (I was, I am, I shall be!)
7. Luxemburg-Liebknecht Demo 1977, East-Berlin.
8. Luxemburg-Liebknecht Demo 1978, East-Berlin.
9. Luxemburg-Liebknecht Demo 1988, East-Berlin.