– Quotes

By Rosa Luxemburg…

“Freedom is always the freedom of the dissenter” (“Freheit ist immer die Freiheit der Andersdenkenden”) (Rosa Luxemburg, ‘The Russian Revolution’ (1918))

“Without general elections, without unrestricted freedom of press and assembly, without a free struggle of opinion, life dies out in every public institution, becomes a mere semblance of life, in which only the bureaucracy remains as the active element” (Rosa Luxemburg, ‘The Russian Revolution’ (1918))

“For us there is no minimal and no maximal program; socialism is one and the same thing: this is the minimum we have to realize today” (Rosa Luxemburg, ‘Our Programme and the Political Situation’ (Dec 1918))

“We stand today…before the awful proposition: either the triumph of imperialism and the destruction of all culture, and, as in ancient Rome, depopulation, desolation, degeneration, a vast cemetery; or, the victory of socialism.” (Rosa Luxemburg, ‘The Junius Pamphlet’ (1916))

“War is methodical, organised, gigantic murder.” (Rosa Luxemburg, ‘The Junius Pamphlet’ (1916))

“I want to affect people like a clap of thunder, to inflame their minds not by speechifying but with the breadth of my vision, the strength of my conviction and the power of my expression.” (Rosa Luxemburg, Letter to Leo Jogiches (1899))

“The leadership has failed. Even so, the leadership can and must be recreated from the masses and out of the masses. The masses are the decisive element, they are the rock on which the final victory of the revolution will be built. The masses were on the heights; they have developed this ‘defeat’ into one of the historical defeats which are the pride and strength of international socialism. And that is why the future victory will bloom from this ‘defeat’. ‘Order reigns in Berlin!’ You stupid henchmen! Your ‘order’ is built on sand. Tomorrow the revolution will already ‘raise itself with a rattle’ and announce with fanfare, to your terror: I was, I am, I shall be!” (Rosa Luxemburg, ‘Order Reigns in Berlin’ (14 January 1919))

“I want to burden the conscience of the affluent with all the suffering and all the hidden, bitter tears… “ (Rosa Luxemburg, written whilst a schoolchild in Warsaw)

“Berlin has made the most unfavourable impression on me: cold, tasteless, massive – a real barracks; and the dear Prussians with their arrogance, as though every one of them had swallowed the cane with which one had once been beaten… ” (Rosa Luxemburg, Letter to the Seidels, 1898)

“When people write they mostly forget to reach deep into their own selves, to relive the importance and truth of the subject.” (Rosa Luxemburg, Letter to the Seidels, 1898)

“I know that I must first collect my epaulettes in the movement; but I want to do this in the left wing, where one wants to fight with the enemy and not in the right wing, where one wants to compromise with the enemy.” (Rosa Luxemburg, Speech to Stuttgart Congress, 1898)

“A general strike that has in advance been bound to the fetters of legality is like an artillery demonstration that starts with the shot being thrown into the water in front of the enemy’s very eyes… Such a restrained threat … will not even frighten a child, let alone a ruling class that is struggling desperately to keep its political power” Rosa Luxemburg, ‘The Belgian Experiment’ (1902))

“If they expect us to murder our French or other foreign brothers, then let us tell them, ‘No, under no circumstances!'” Rosa Luxemburg, Speech at Fechenheim (25 September 1913)

“Sir, I believe you, you would run away; a social democrat does not.  He stands by his deeds and laughs at your judgements. And now sentence me.” Rosa Luxemburg, Speech at Frankfurt Trial (1914)

“The world historic appeal of the communist manifesto has undergone a significant amendment and, after Karl Kautsky’s correction, now reads: Workers of the world unite in peace and slash your throats in war!” Rosa Luxemburg, during the First World War

“A world must be overturned, but every tear that flows is an accusation; and every man rushing to do something important who treads even on a worm through pure carelessness is committing a crime.” Rosa Luxemburg, Rote Fahne, (18 November 1918)

“It is sheer insanity to believe that capitalists would goodhumouredly obey the socialist verdict of a parliament or of a national assembly, that they would calmly renounce property, profit, the right to exploit.” Rosa Luxemburg, ‘What Does the Spartacus League Want?” (1918)

“I am only comforted by the grim thought that I too will soon be sent to meet my Maker – perhaps by a bullet of the counter-revolution, which is lurking on all sides. But as long as I live, I remain beholden to you in the warmest, most loyal and fervent love.” Rosa Luxemburg, Letter to the Gecks (18 November 1918)

On Rosa Luxemburg…

“Red Rosa now has vanished too. (…), She told the poor what life is about, And so the rich have rubbed her out. May she rest in peace.”

Bertolt Brecht, German playwright, 1919

“It was how she isolated the essentials and spoke in a succinct and accomplished way that did not rely on rhetoric which rendered her such a magnificent speaker and made one tremble in awe of this woman’s universal intellect.”

Rosi Wolfstein, Rosa’s pupil at the German Social Democratic Party’s school in Berlin, 1920

“She gave herself completely to the cause of Socialism, not only in her tragic death, but throughout her whole life, daily and hourly, through the struggles of many years … She was the sharp sword, the living flame of revolution.”

Clara Zetkin, socialist feminist and close friend of Rosa, 1920s

“Rosa Luxemburg was mistaken …; she was mistaken …; she was mistaken …; she was mistaken …; she was mistaken … But in spite of her mistakes she was – and remains for us – an eagle.”

Vladmir Ilych Lenin, Russian Bolshevik leader, 1922

“She was a little woman, frail and even sickly looking, but with a noble face and beautiful eyes that radiated intelligence; she captivated one by the sheer courage of her mind and character…”

Leon Trotsky, Russian Bolshevik leader

I can see her now: how she rose from amongst the delegates and stood on a chair to make herself better heard. Small and looking very frail in a summer dress which cleverly concealed her physical defects, she represented her cause with such magnetism and such compelling words.”

Emile Vandervelde, Belgian Socialist leader and contemporary of Luxemburg

‘When a girl arms herself with Rosa’s name she is as powerful and as dangerous as an armed man- she is a warrior and no-one will dare touch her.’

Larissa Reissner, Russian writer, in Hamburg at the Barricades, 1924

“In her assassination Hohenzollern Germany celebrated its last triumph and Nazi Germany its first.”

Isaac Deutscher, British historian

“I think there are very few writers in the history of world literature where, as in Rosa Luxemburg’s case, the greatest extent of self analysis is matched by the extent with which she reliably explored the outside world… The humanity of our society will not least be measured by how dearly we will hold Rosa Luxemburg’s heritage.”

Walter Jens, German writer and critic, 1988

“Rosa Luxemburg travels into the twenty-first century like a great messenger bird, spanning continents, scanning history, to remind us that our present is not new but a continuation of a long human conflict changing only in intensity and scope.”

Adrienne Rich, American poet and feminist, 2008

“Intrepid, incorruptible, passionate and gentle. Imagine as you read between the lines of what she wrote, the expression of her eyes. She loved workers and birds. She danced with a limp. Everything about her fascinates and rings true. One of the immortals.”

John Berger, British writer, 2008

“Thanks, Rosa. You go on being our source of fresh water in thirsty times.”

Eduardo Galeano, Uruguayan journalist and author of Open Veins of Latin America, 2008

2 Responses to – Quotes

  1. … finally aloud to me …

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