On This Day: 13 May 1907: Rosa Luxemburg in London


Rosa Luxemburg and her lover Kostya Zetkin

Rosa Luxemburg wrote to her lover Kostya Zetkin from London, where she was attending the Fifth Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party.

“Dear Kostya,

I’m sitting in the middle of the famous Whitechapel district…

In a foul mood I travelled through the endless stations of the Dark Underground and emerged both depressed and lost in a strange and wild part of the city. It’s dark and dirty here. A dim streetlight is flickering and is reflected in puddles and pools. (It’s been raining the whole day.) To the left and right in the darkness  the brightly coloured restaurants and bars give off an eerie glow. Groups of drunken people stagger with wild noise and shouting down the middle of the street, newspaper boys are also shouting, flower girls on the street corners, looking frightfully ugly and even depraved, as though they had been drawn by Pascin, are screeching and squealing…

Finally I found it [the hotel]- “The Three Nuns.” Why, the very name is suspicious as hell. A brightly lit dining room, but empty. I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw two women sitting at a little table. Unfortunately I then saw that all the guests were familiar with these women and without any formality, and still wearing their hats, were sitting down at the table to join them…

But suddenly inside me  now some gypsy blood has been awakened. The shrill chords of night in the big city, with its demonic magic, have touched certain strings in the soul of the children of the great city. Somewhere in the depths an indistinct desire to plunge into this whirlpool… What will the young man with the thick head and deep dark eyes say about this?… “

Rosa Luxemburg to Kostya Zetkin, 13 May 1907 [London to Stuttgart]


About rosaluxemburgblog

I was awarded a PhD in History by Swansea University for a thesis on Rosa Luxemburg (2016). I am currently co-editing the fourth volume of 'The Complete Works of Rosa Luxemburg' and am a member of the Advisory Board of the International Rosa Luxemburg Society.
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