Luxemburg, Rosa

Luxemburg, Rosa

biographical name


Rosa Luxemburg.—Interfoto/Friedrich Rauch, Munich

(born March 5, 1871, Zamosc, Pol., Russian Empire—died Jan. 15, 1919, Berlin, Ger.) Polish-born German political radical, intellectual, and author. As a Jew in Russian-controlled Poland, she was drawn early into underground political activism. In 1889 she fled to Zürich, Switz., where she obtained her doctorate. Having become involved in the international socialist movement, in 1892 she cofounded what would become the Polish Communist Party. The Russian Revolution of 1905 convinced her that the world revolution would originate in Russia. She advocated the mass strike as the proletariat's most important tool. Imprisoned in Warsaw for agitation, she then moved to Berlin to teach and write (1907–14). Early in World War I she cofounded the Spartacus League (see Spartacists), and in 1918 she oversaw its transformation into the German Communist Party; she was murdered during the Spartacus Revolt less than a month later. She believed in a democratic path to socialism after a world revolution to overthrow capitalism and opposed what she recognized as Vladimir Ilich Lenin's emerging dictatorship.

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