Remembering Rosa Luxemburg

Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht were killed by nationalist Freikorps soldiers in Berlin on January 15, 1919. The leaders of the revolutionary worker's movement are still seen as models for the political left in Europe today. Rosa Luxemburg's deeds and convictions inspire commentators to reflect on what we can learn from them in our times.

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Mérce (HU) /

When the barbarity began

Rosa Luxemburg's death was just the start of a long history of suffering, Leftist philosopher Gáspár Miklós Tamás points out in Mérce:

“Her corpse in Berlin's Landwehr Canal was a symbol of what was to come: ... The second, definitive betrayal of German social democracy, the fact that the Russian Revolution remained an isolated incident and developed into Stalinism, the triumph of fascism in Europe, which confirmed Rosa Luxemburg's favourite quote by Friedrich Engels: 'Socialism or barbarity'. It never occurred to Engel that socialism could also bring barbarity in its wake, but that too came to pass.”

Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

She created the better part of our history

Rosa Luxemburg and the right-wing brutality she fell victim to must be remembered, Gazeta Wyborcza stresses:

“None of those responsible for Rosa Luxemburg's cruel death were convicted. They all belonged to the 'Freikorps', the volunteer, nationalist, paramilitary formations whose goal was to fight the leftists. Many members of the Freikorps later became Nazis. They also belonged to the military units that fought in Poland for example during the Silesian Uprisings, people like the SS officer Erich von dem Bach, and during the Warsaw Uprising. Rosa, one of their first victims, has been forgotten today, submersed by the right-wing fury. But we should remember her. She created the better part of our history.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Freedom must be defended at all times

For the Süddeutsche Zeitung it's above all Luxemburg's statement "Freedom is always the freedom of the one who thinks differently" that lives on today:

“True, she would have seen our democracy as the facade of unbridled capitalism. Nevertheless her sentence about the freedom of dissenters remains highly relevant. Its validity extends far beyond the context in which it was written. It points the way forward whenever freedom is being defined. Nowadays there's not much left of the radical left-wing utopias. Right-wing populism, however, is forging ahead, and even giving the impression that it is seeking to create true freedom. Democracy, meanwhile, often seems half-hearted as far as this challenge is concerned, yet freedom is the greatest strength of the open society. Many take this freedom for granted, but they shouldn't. It must always be reinforced, defended, and filled with life.”