Rosa Luxemburg – death of a revolutionary

Ian Walker in The New European:

Rosa Luxemburg thought Berlin could hide her. Five days into 1919, the Marxist revolutionary had helped to transform a wave of strikes and protests in the city into open revolution – the so-called Spartacist uprising. But by January 12, she was on the run, the revolt crushed by right-wing militia groups deployed by Germany’s new socialist government.

However, all was not lost. Berlin, in those febrile post-war months, still offered hope to her. It was a city filled with revolutionaries, fellow travellers and sympathetic soldiers, factory workers and intellectuals. In other words, there were plenty of hotel rooms, basements, offices and attics in which a Marxist fugitive could lie low, regroup and work out what to do next.

But it turned out that the city couldn’t hide her. Berlin was also full of volunteers and spies working on behalf of the government. Then there were those militia groups – the Freikorps, the hastily-assembled units of soldiers returning from the front who were happy to do the government’s counter-revolutionary killing. Finally, there were Berlin’s perennial gossips, informers and trouble-makers.

In the event, Luxemburg lasted just three days as an outlaw.

More here.