Our Karl Liebknecht: Assassinated

For the first time in Marxist literature Karl Liebknecht takes up the question of militarism in the imperialist period in his book ‘Militarism and Anti-Militarism’, published in 1907. It leads him to being sentenced to imprisonment. As a member of the Prussian Chamber of Deputies and the Reichstag, he exposes the military industries for their policies and calls for international proletarian solidarity as the decisive weapon in the struggle against militarism.

Karl Liebknecht welcomes the 1905 Revolution in Russia and comes into a sharp political clash with the revisionists in his own Social Democratic Party. He defends the general mass strike as a special proletarian means of struggle. He denounces the assistance given by the German government to the Russian Tsar and calls upon the German proletariat to emulate the struggle of the Russian workers.

At the beginning of the First World War, Karl Liebknecht does not initially break with the discipline of the Social-Democratic Party, voting for war credits on August 4th, 1914. Liebknecht soon corrects his position and on 2nd December 1914 he casts the sole vote against war credits.

In a statement, submitted to the Chairman of the Reichstag, he characterises the war as one of annexation. This document is later circulated as an illegal leaflet.

Even when drafted to the front, Karl Liebknecht utilises his membership of the Prussian and Reichstag Chambers to continue the struggle. He adopts the Bolshevik slogan of transforming the imperialist war into a civil war.

Together with Rosa Luxemburg he establishes the Spartacus group. From the rostrum of the Prussian Chamber of Deputies he calls upon the Berlin proletariat to join the Mayday demonstration of 1916. Karl Liebknecht calls for the overthrow of a government conducting an imperialist war: He is arrested and sentenced by a military court to jail for four years. It is there that he learns the news of the October Revolution.

Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg are among the founders of the Communist Party of Germany, which holds its constituent congress from 30th December 1918 to January 1, 1919. After the suppression of the Berlin workers’ uprising of January 1919, Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg are assassinated.

 

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