(1871 - 1919)
Luxemburg was born in Russian-controlled Poland in 1871. She began her revolutionary activities by the age of sixteen
and, in 1889, she was requested to leave Poland because of her political
affiliations. She moved to Switzerland to finish her studies at the
University of Zurich.
Luxemburg became a journalist in 1894 and, by that
time, she was already considered one of the leaders of the Social Democratic
Party in Poland and Lithuania. She was a supporter of revolution and
a defender of Marxist theories.
In 1899, she published Reform or Revolution,
a critique of Edward Bernstein's Evolutionary Socialism. While Bernstein
tried to disprove the idea of class struggle, Luxemburg embraced the
cause and, like Marx, she called for a revolution.
She became a German citizen in 1898 through marriage,
and became a leader of the German Social Democratic Party (SPD). Luxemburg's
very left-wing views were not always approved of by the SPD.
In 1905, Luxemburg helped support the Russian Revolution
and became even more radical in her views of Socialism. In 1912, she
published The Accumulation of Capital, in which she predicted the inevitable
failure of a capitalist society. Her views conflicted so much with the
Social Democratic Party that, in 1916, Luxemburg started the Spartacus
League with Karl Liebknecht. The party was converted into the German
Communist Party in 1918.
In 1919, Luxemburg joined in the uprising against the
government in Berlin. She
and Liebknecht were arrested on January 15, 1919, for their revolutionary
activities. While being transported to prison, Luxemburg was murdered
by the German Freikorps and thrown into a ditch.
Luxemburg was honored after her death not only by the large attendance
at her public funeral, but also by the publication of a collection of
her articles and essays. Her works, however, were not well-received
by the Communist Party because of her dismissal of national unity and
her promotion of reformation and revolution. Luxemburg's publication
was not widely read until the 1970s, fifty years after her death.
Today, Rosa Luxemburg is remembered as a supporter
of women's liberation. She is not identified with Socialism or Communism,
but her views are seen as a substitute ideology. She rose against the
corrupt governments in Germany and Russia, and she is remembered
today for her unconventional and persuasive ideas, as well as her courage
in the face of the German right wing parties.