As well as a journalist, theoretician and revolutionary, Rosa Luxemburg was a teacher. In 1907, a photograph was taken of Luxemburg and her pupils, who included two future German Presidents; Friedrich Ebert and Wilhelm Pieck.
SPD Party Schoool, Berlin (1907): Rosa Luxemburg ( standing left), Wilhelm Pieck (seated to right of Luxemburg) and Friedrich Ebert (third row back on left-hand side of right row)
Luxemburg was a teacher at the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) School on Lindenstrasse in Berlin, which educated social democratic activists and trade-unionists in politics, history and economics, among other subjects. Two of the students in Luxemburg’s class went onto become German Presidents.
President Friedrich Ebert (1871- 1925, President 1919- 1925)
President Ebert (right) with Chancellor Wilhelm Cuno in Berlin (1923) and with fellow socialist leaders Philipp Scheidemann (second from left) and Hugo Haase (centre) in Jena, 1913 (right)
Photographs: Bundesarchiv and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung
Friedrich Ebert became leader of the SPD following the death of August Bebel (standing to the left of Luxemburg) in 1913. Ebert supported the German war effort and the imprisonment of anti-war socialists including his former teacher, Luxemburg. Ebert became German Chancellor on 9 November 1918 during the German Revolution and was voted first President of the German Republic by the National Assembly at Weimar on 11 February 1919, a post which he held until his death on 28 February 1925. As Chancellor, Ebert was responsible for the crushing of the ‘Spartacist Rising’ in January 1919, which culminated in the murders of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. Although he did not publicly endorse the murders, Ebert was considered responsible by the Communists and other left-wingers.
President Wilhelm Pieck (1876- 1960, President 1949- 1960)
President Pieck giving a speech in Berlin (1950) and making a speech at the ‘Memorial to the Victims of The November Revolution’ at the graves of Luxemburg and Liebknecht in Berlin, 1926. The Memorial was destroyed by the Nazis in 1933 and the graves desecrated.
© Bildarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz / Jochen Moll and Bundesarchiv
Wilhelm Pieck was a Spartacist and later Communist, who served as the first (and only) President of the German Democractic Republic (GDR) from 11 October 1949 until his death on 7 September 1960. A survivor of the Nazi regime and Stalinist purges, Pieck was a staunch Stalinist and was Head of State of the East German dictatorship during its most repressive period.