Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg might have had a longer life if Gustav Noske had remained editor-in-chief of Chemnitz’s “Volksstimme” and had not gone to Berlin. There, however, Noske became one of those responsible for the murder of the two left-wing politicians. His friends were the Social Democrats Liebknecht and …

Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg might have had a longer life if Gustav Noske had remained editor-in-chief of Chemnitz’s “Volksstimme” and had not gone to Berlin. There, however, Noske became one of those responsible for the murder of the two left-wing politicians. Social Democrats Liebknecht and Noske had never been friends before. They are almost exemplary of the split in the German working class. In his monumental novel “November 1918”, the writer Alfred Döblin (1878 – 1957) put a monument in Liebknecht and Luxembourg, and the other, Noske, a disgrace.

Karl Liebknecht was born August 13, 1871 in Leipzig, son of Wilhelm Liebknecht, the co-founder of German social democracy, and his wife Natalie. Its godfathers and godmothers included – although in absentia – Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. A life on the fast lane began: studying law and economics in Leipzig and Berlin, one year of military service, legal internship, doctorate, joint law firm with his brother Theodor in Berlin. In August 1900, he joined the SPD, in 1901 he was elected to the Berlin city council. From 1907 to 1910, Liebknecht was president of the Socialist Youth International, for which he wrote the book “Militarism and anti-militarism”, which earned him a year and a half in prison. From 1908 member of the Prussian House of Representatives, from 1912 member of the Reichstag. There, on December 2, he was the first and only MP to refuse to approve new war loans, after submitting to parliamentary group discipline and consenting to it in August. Gustav Noske had defended the approval in Chemnitz’s “Volksstimme” in July and August 1914: “We proletarians have nothing to gain from war but new misery, new oppression … mutilations … Even the most brilliant victory does not increase. our salary for a penny … But that’s not why we are not fellow patriots. “A few days later:” Do we want to win? And our answer is yes!

Karl Liebknecht was drafted as an armored soldier, but founded the anti-militarist group “Internationale” with Rosa Luxemburg, which later became the Spartakusbund. On May 1, 1916, he organized a demonstration for peace in Berlin, denounced the expansionist objectives of German policy, criticized the Armenian genocide, was arrested and sentenced to two and a half years in prison for high treason. On October 23, 1918, he was pardoned as part of a general amnesty. He only has a few days left to live.

By this time, the SPD was already divided between the majority SPD and the Peaceful Independent Social Democratic Party, which, however, met again briefly at the start of the November Revolution. On the far left was the Spartakusbund with Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, from which the KPD emerged on January 1, 1919. Until then, the November Revolution, which began with the uprising of the sailors in Kiel on November 8, had been relatively peaceful. Social Democrat Philipp Scheidemann announced the abdication of the emperor and the “German Republic” shortly after Karl Liebknecht prematurely proclaimed the “Free Socialist Republic of Germany” on November 9. In his novel, Alfred Döblin made a Berliner say mockingly: “I saw with my own eyes how someone with a red armband on Pariser Platz yelled at a man for throwing away his sandwich paper. Great. As Friedrich Ebert / Philipp Scheidemann’s government soon aimed for parliamentary elections and sought and found a connection with the old militarist elite, Liebknecht – unlike Rosa Luxemburg – envisioned the time for a revolution after the Spartacus uprising, which did not was not actually planned and repressed in the blood under the leadership of Noske came. It was supposed to create a socialist Soviet republic, although the largely disarmed, war-exhausted proletarians were not at all prepared for it. Now the moderate left was fighting against the whole left. And the Minister of the Reichswehr Noske gave, as he himself said, the “sleuth”. Alfred Döblin: “And ignorance, cowardice, betrayal and criminal weakness, clothed in the appearance of theory, reliability and wise circumspection, set in motion and immediately set to work (the murder of the revolution ).

On January 15, 1919, Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht – an “anti-Bolshevik league” had given them a high bounty – were found by a vigilante group in their hiding place in Berlin-Wilmersdorf and brought to the “Eden” hotel. , where they were joined by right-wing Freikorps officer Had Waldemar Pabst questioned and mistreated. According to witness statements, Rosa Luxemburg was shot and killed by Freikorps member Hermann Souchon that evening and her body was thrown into the Landwehr Canal. Karl Liebknecht later died, reportedly shot from behind while trying to escape. The attackers remained almost unharmed for years. Pabst, the mastermind behind the murders, admitted in a letter in 1969: “It is clear that I could not carry out the operation without Noske’s consent (with Ebert in the background) and had to protect my officers as well. As a gentleman, I have the demeanor recognized by the SPD at the time in saying that I had been silent about our cooperation for 50 years. “

Luxembourg and Liebknecht were not only glorified in the GDR. This does not do them justice – they were fallible people at a time when there was virtually no experience of how to improve the situation of the most disadvantaged and the oppressed in society – but “in spite of everything”, like one of the last articles of Karl Liebknecht directed is, They fought for a more just world, for the “happiness of the proletariat”, as it says in Liebknecht’s article. He was convinced of this: “And if we will still live when it is realized, our program will live; he will reign over the world of redeemed humanity. Despite all this !

The Leipzig City History Museum commemorates the politician with the exhibition “Hero or hateful figure? The Leipzig Liebknecht”. It can be seen Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. until January 30, 2022.