Rosa Luxemburg, along with Karl Liebknecht, was to play a key role in Germany in the months that immediately followed the Armistice in November 1918. Rosa Luxemburg was one of the key leaders of theSpartacist movement.
Luxemburg was born in March 1871 in Zamosch, Poland. In 1889, aged 18 and because of her revolutionary agitation, she had to leave for Zurich in Switzerland. If she had stayed in Poland, it was almost certain that she would have been imprisoned for her political views. While abroad, Luxemburg continued to study and she received her doctorate in 1898.
In 1898, Luxemburg left Zurich for Berlin where she joined the German Social Democratic Labour Party. Luxemburg was very keen on supporting the idea of debate and in 1900 she produced “Reform or Revolution”. She supported reform as a way of improving life but she did not want to stop at reforms that came from the government as she believed that governments frequently gave only what they wanted to. Luxemburg wanted a complete revolution of governmental systems.
She saw the revolution in Russia in 1905 as a very good sign of hope. She moved to Warsaw where she hoped to make more of a mark in Russia. However, she was caught by the authorities and put in prison.
When the war broke out in 1914, she was very much against it. Luxemburg was very angered by the Social Democratic Party that had fully supported Germany’s entry into the war. Luxemburg left the SDP. It was at this time that she allied with Karl Liebknecht who shared the same views and had also left the SDP. They formed the Internationale Group that was to become the Spartacists. Their main party platform during the war was for German soldiers to turn their weapons against their officers and then against the government thus overthrowing it.
Both Luxemburg and Liebknecht were arrested for their political activities. While in prison, Luxemburg wrote the “Junius Pamphlet” which was to become the foundation of the Spartacists beliefs.
On January 15th, 1919, Luxemburg, Liebknecht and Wilhelm Pieck, another Spartacist leader, were arrested. What happened next is unclear but Luxemburg, Liebknecht and Pieck were taken from the Adlon Hotel in Berlin, where they were being held, to be local prison. Pieck managed to escape. Luxemburg and Liebknecht were both murdered by their captors. Luxemburg’s body was found in a river.