14 March 2019

ON 15th January, 1919, Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, both leaders of the Communist Party of Germany, were hunted down by the ‘Freikorps’ (“Free Corps”), a private militia, and assassinated at the behest of the Government headed by the Social Democratic SPD. The enemies of revolution could not tolerate the words of Rosa: I want to affect people like a clap of thunder… to inflame their minds with the breadth of my vision, the strength of my conviction, and the power of my expression.

In Lenin’s words: “Today the bourgeoisie and the social-traitors are jubilating in Berlin, they have succeeded in murdering Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg. Elbert and Scheidemann who for four years led the workers to the slaughter for the sake of depredation, have now assumed the role of butchers of the proletarian leaders. The example of the German revolution proves that democracy is only a camouflage for bourgeois robbery and the most savage violence. Death to the butchers.”

In her last article, ‘Order Prevails in Berlin’, written on 14 January 1919 a day before her assassination, Rosa Luxemburg said:

"The contradiction between the powerful, decisive, aggressive offensive of the Berlin masses on the one hand and the indecisive, half-hearted vacillation of the Berlin leadership on the other is the mark of this latest episode. The leadership failed. But a new leadership can and must be created by the masses and from the masses. The masses are the crucial factor. They are the rock on which the ultimate victory of the revolution will be built. The masses were up to the challenge, and out of this “defeat” they have forged a link in the chain of historic defeats, which is the pride and strength of international socialism. That is why future victories will spring from this “defeat.”

“Order prevails in Berlin!” You foolish lackeys! Your “order” is built on sand. Tomorrow the revolution will “rise up again, clashing its weapons,” and to your horror it will proclaim with trumpets blazing: I was, I am, I shall be! n

Kabeer Katlat

The Communist movement in India has a history of almost a century after the salvos of October Revolution in Russia brought Marxism-Leninism to the people of India who were engaged in the national liberation struggle against the British colonialists. It is a complex and chequered history.