- LUXEMBURG, ROSA
- LUXEMBURG, ROSA (1871–1919), German economist and revolutionary. Born into a family of merchants in Zamosc, Poland, Rosa Luxemburg joined the Polish revolutionary movement as a schoolgirl in Warsaw. As a consequence of the threat of imprisonment she was forced to leave the country at the age of 18 and immigrated to Switzerland. There she studied political economy and history at the University of Zurich, worked in the underground Socialist movement of Polish emigrants, and met her longtime partner and lifetime comrade Leo Jogiches. In the early 1890s she helped to found the Social Democratic Party of Poland and Lithuania which cooperated for a time with the Marxist Russian Social Democratic movement. Migrating to Germany in 1898, she obtained German citizenship through a formal marriage with a printer. She became active among Polish workers and joined the editorial staff of the Saechsische Arbeiter-Zeitung, the Leipziger Volkszeitung, and later the Vorwaerts, and was a regular contributor to the Neue Zeit. Rosa Luxemburg was a leading figure in the revolutionary left wing of the German Socialist movement. As a correspondent of the Vorwaerts she participated in the revolution of 1905–06 in Warsaw, was imprisoned, but escaped and resumed her political activity in Germany, devoting a large part of her attention to the general strike as a revolutionary weapon. She was active in both the Polish and the German Labor movements and was a prominent figure in the Socialist International. She opposed World War I as an imperialist enterprise and spent a long period in prison as a consequence. In 1916, together with Franz Mehring, Karl Liebknecht, Leo Jogiches, and others she founded the "Spartakusgruppe," a revolutionary organization, which at the end of 1918 was transformed into the Spartakusbund and in the beginning of 1919 into the Communist Party of Germany (KPD). She was on friendly terms with Lenin but they disagreed on a number of issues. She was very critical of the Bolshevik reign of terror in the Soviet Union. With Karl Liebknecht she edited the Communist daily Die Rote Fahne from November 1918, and she was arrested with him in Berlin on January 15, 1919. They were brought to the Berlin Eden-Hotel, where both were tortured and murdered by army officers. Rosa Luxemburg's body was thrown into the Berlin Landwehrkanal and found only months later. On June 13, 1919, she was buried at the cemetery of Berlin-Friedrichsfelde, followed by a large funeral procession. As an economist, Rosa Luxemburg is widely known for her theory of imperialism. She was convinced that in a pure capitalist society the inadequacy of the local market would lead to a search for markets in countries with more primitive methods of production. There would be a struggle for foreign markets, and imperialism would thus become the guiding principle of foreign policy. Although capitalism must automatically disappear with the exhaustion of external non-capitalist markets, it would collapse before reaching this limit, because expanding capitalism would produce profound social conflicts leading to a victorious proletarian revolution. She developed this theory in Die Akkumulation des Kapitals (1913). Of great interest are Rosa Luxemburg's views on nationalism. For her, Socialism and national self-determination were conflicting ideas. She opposed Poland's independence; her "fatherland" was the international working class, her aim the Socialist revolution. Although Rosa Luxemburg did not show any interest in Jewish matters or in a specifically Jewish labor movement, she was constantly attacked in antisemitic terms. Rosa Luxemburg's important publications include Die industrielle Entwicklung Polens (her doctoral thesis, 1898), Sozialreform oder Revolution (1899), Massenstreik, Partei und Gewerkschaften (1906), Die russische Revolution (ed. by Paul Levi, 1922, and by Ossip K. Flechtheim, 1963), Einführung in die Nationalökonomie (ed. by Paul Levi, 1925), and Politische Schriften (ed. by Ossip K. Flechtheim, 1966). Her Gesammelte Werke appearedin various editions from the 1920s on. Numerous collections of letters were published, among them Briefe aus dem Gefaengnis (1920), Briefe an Karl und Luise Kautsky (1923), Briefe an Freunde (ed. by B. Kautsky, 1950), Briefe an Leon Jogiches (1971), and Gesammelte Briefe (vol. 1–6, 1982–93). -BIBLIOGRAPHY: J.P. Nettl, Rosa Luxemburg, 2 vols. (Eng., 1966). Add. Bibliography: P. Froelich, Rosa Luxemburg (Eng., 1940); P. Peretz, in: Juden und juedische Aspekte in der deutschen Arbeiterbewegung, 1848–1918 (1977); E. Silberner, in: Jahrbuch des Instituts fuer Deutsche Geschichte, 7 (1978), 299–337; O.K. Flechtheim, Rosa Luxemburg zur Einführung (1985); E. Ettinger, Rosa Luxemburg (Eng., 1986); R.S. Wistrich, in: A. Rapoport-Albert and S.J. Zipperstein (eds.), Jewish History, Essays in Honour of Chimen Abramsky (1988); K. von Soden (ed.), Rosa Luxemburg (1995); A. Laschitza, Im Lebens rausch, trotz alledem. Rosa Luxemburg (1996). (Mirjam Triendl (2nd ed.)
Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.