Rosa Luxemburg on her way to court in 1914, flanked by her lawyers Paul Levi and Kurt Rosenfeld
On 20 February 1914, Rosa Luxemburg stood on trial at the Frankfurt Criminal Court on charges on encouraging public disobedience. The charge stemmed from anti-war speeches made across Germany, in which Luxemburg called for young men to refuse to take up arms against their ‘French brothers’.
At the trial, Luxemburg delivered a powerful speech in which she declared:
“…when, as I say, the majority of people
come to the conclusion that wars are nothing but a
barbaric, unsocial, reactionary phenomenon,
entirely against the interests of the people, then wars
will have become impossible …”
Luxemburg was sentenced to one year’s imprisonment, which she served from February 1915 to February 1916. Her hopes that the German workers would refuse to support a world war proved illusory.