On This Day: 13 November 1917: Rosa Luxemburg on the October Revolution

Around 13 November 1917, Rosa Luxemburg wrote to her friend Marta Rosenbaum in a letter smuggled outfrom her cell in Breslau prison, where she was held by the German authorities for her anti-war activies. On 7 November (25 October by the Russian calendar) 1917, Lenin and the Bolsheviks had seized power in Petrograd (St. Petersburg), overthrowing Kerensky’s provisional government and declaring ‘All Power to the Soviets!’.

Luxemburg wrote:

“I am living ever onward in the same way as before: during the walks in the ugly prison yard I dream to myself of something beautiful so intensively that I don’t notice the surroundings at all, and the rest of the time I read in my cell and work in a calm mood the whole time.

For a week or so my thoughts have of course been in Petersburg. With impatient hands both morning and evening I seize on the newspapers, but unfortunately the news is meagre and confused.

Lasting success there is certainly not to be counted on, but in any event the courage to seize power is in itself a punch in the face  for Social Democracy here and for the whole slumbering International.”

Rosa Luxemburg to Marta Rosenbaum, Breslau Prison, after 12 November 1917 (Adler, Hudis & Lashitza (eds.), Shriver (trans.), The Letters of Rosa Luxemburg (London & New York: Verso, 2012), 440- 441


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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