Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Courageous Karl Liebknecht

"Once the war broke out, Social Democrats - German, French, and Austrian (Lenin did not attend the Brussels meeting and disassociated himself from his government's actions) - declared their support of the war and of their governments by voting for war appropriations... On 30 October 1914, a Swiss newspaper, the Berner Tagwacht, carried a 'Declaration' signed by Clara Zetkin, Franz Mehring, Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg. In one brief paragraph they disclaimed their allegiance to the official party line and assured foreign comrades that they, like many other German Social Democrats, held a view on 'the war, its origin and character' different from that of the SPD." - Elzbieta Ettinger (1986). Rosa Luxemburg: A Life, Beacon Press: 194.
"Karl Liebknecht went to Liège in October, met with the secretary of the International, Huysmans, saw the devastation wrought by his countrymen, and departed saying: 'Now I know what has happened and I shall do my duty.' In December he voted, a lone voice, against renewal of war appropriations. Contacts were made with antiwar groups abroad with the vague hope that the carnage might somehow still be stopped." -- ibid: 195 (my emphasis)
"The Spartacists put enormous effort into the May Day celebration in 1916. Luxemburg wrote the leaflets distributed in factories, and 10,000 antiwar demonstrators gathered in Potsdam Square. The demonstration was led by Liebknecht, dressed up in a soldier's uniform, shouting, 'Down with the war! Down with the government!' Luxemburg marched at his side. Arrested on the spot, he was stripped of his [parliamentary] immunity, and was sentenced to four years and one month of penal servitude." -- ibid: 208

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