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Rosa Luxemburg's Last Letter



On this day one hundred years ago, Rosa Luxemburg, German Marxist and tireless revolutionary, was murdered by Freikorps troops, along with her longtime friend and fellow revolutionary Karl Liebknecht. The murder followed the defeat of the week-long Spartacist Uprising, led by the revolutionary organization that Luxemburg and Liebknecht had founded in 1915. The Verso blog has published the final letter Luxemburg wrote before her death. Written on January 11 to her comrade Clara Zetkin, the letter captures the dizzying intensity of the uprising and demonstrates Luxemburg’s commitment to discerning the path to revolution in even the gloomiest of circumstances. Here’s an excerpt:

Today I received your detailed letter, finally got around to reading it in peace and quiet, and what’s still more incredible, to answering it. It is impossible to describe the way of life that I—and all of us—have been living for weeks, the tumult and turmoil, the constant changing of living quarters, the never-ending reports filled with alarm, and in between, the tense strain of work, conferences, etc., etc. I literally could not find time to write you. I’ve only seen my own place now and then for a couple of hours at night. Perhaps tonight I will succeed in writing this letter. Only I really don’t know how to begin, I have so much to tell you …

The severe political crises that we’ve experienced here in Berlin during all of the past two weeks or even longer have blocked the way to the systematic organizational work of training our recruits, but at the same time these events are a tremendous school for the masses. And finally, one must take history as it comes, whatever course it takes.

Image of Rosa Luxemburg via the BBC.