Rosa Luxemburg - Life - Germany - German Revolution of 1918–1919 and Murder

German Revolution of 1918–1919 and Murder

See also: German Revolution of 1918–1919

Luxemburg was freed from prison in Breslau on 8 November 1918. One day later Karl Liebknecht, who had also been freed from prison, proclaimed the Freie Sozialistische Republik (Free Socialist Republic) in Berlin. He and Luxemburg reorganised the Spartacus League and founded the Red Flag newspaper, demanding amnesty for all political prisoners and the abolition of capital punishment. On 14 December 1918 they published the new programme of the Spartacist League.

From 29–31 December 1918, they took part in a joint congress of the Spartacist League, independent Socialists, and the International Communists of Germany (IKD), that led to the foundation of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) under the leadership of Karl Liebknecht and Luxemburg on 1 January 1919. She supported the new KPD's participation in the Weimar National Assembly that founded the Weimar Republic; but she was out-voted.

In January 1919 a second revolutionary wave swept Berlin. Unlike Liebknecht, Luxemburg rejected this violent attempt to seize power. But the Red Flag encouraged the rebels to occupy the editorial offices of the liberal press.

In response to the uprising, Social Democratic leader Friedrich Ebert ordered the Freikorps to destroy the left-wing revolution. Luxemburg and Liebknecht were captured in Berlin on 15 January 1919 by the Freikorps' Garde-Kavallerie-Schützendivision. Its commander, Captain Waldemar Pabst (1880–1970), along with Lieutenant Horst von Pflugk-Harttung (1889-1967), questioned them violently and then gave the order to execute them. Luxemburg was knocked down with a rifle butt by soldier Otto Runge (1875–1945), then shot in the head, either by Lieutenant Kurt Vogel (1889-1967) or Lieutenant Hermann Souchon (1894–1982); her body was flung into Berlin's Landwehr Canal. In the Tiergarten Karl Liebknecht was shot and his body, without a name, brought to a morgue.

After the murders, a new series of violent outrages in Berlin and whole Germany started, with thousands of KPD members, other revolutionaries and civilians being killed. Finally Workers' and Soldiers' councils and the People's Navy Division (Volksmarinedivision), who had positioned themselves to the left side meanwhile, disbanded.

The German revolution went to its terminal phase, with numbers of armed outrages and strikes all over Germany up to May 1919, including Berlin, Bremen Soviet Republik, Saxony, Saxony Gotha, Hamburg, the Rhinelands and the Ruhr region. Last to stand was the Munich Soviet Republic until 2 May 1919.

More than four months after the murders, on 1 June 1919 Luxemburg's corpse was found and identified after an autopsy at the Berlin Charité hospital.

Otto Runge was sentenced to two years imprisonment (for "attempted manslaughter") and Lieutenant Vogel to four months (for failing to report a corpse). However, the latter escaped after a brief period in custody while Pabst and Souchon went unpunished. The Nazis later compensated Runge for having been jailed (he died in Berlin in Soviet custody after the end of World War II), and they merged the Garde-Kavallerie-Schutzendivision into the SA. In an interview given to the German news magazine "Der Spiegel" in 1962 and again in his memoirs, Pabst maintained that two SPD leaders, defense minister Gustav Noske and chancellor Friedrich Ebert, had approved of his actions. This statement has never been confirmed, since neither parliament nor the courts examined the case.

Luxemburg and Liebknecht were buried at Friedrichsfelde Central Cemetery in Berlin, where socialists and communists commemorate them every year, on the second Sunday of January.

Read more about this topic:  Rosa Luxemburg, Life, Germany

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