orthodox Marxist, she was involved in the socialist movement in Poland, Russia and most actively
in Germany. Unique to her 'Luxemburgian' political philosophy was the fact that she stood not
for Marxism, Communism or Socialism but only for reality. In Luxemburg's words she supported
Marxism because "Marx was the best interpreter of reality of them all(Rosa Luxemburg, p9)."
Rosa Luxemburg was born March 5, 1871 in Zamoßç, Poland of a middle class, Jewish
family. She studied in Warsaw and completed her doctorate in natural science and political
economy at the University of Zürich. In 1898 Luxemburg moved to Germany, marrying another
Marxist revolutionary, Leo Jogiches and worked as a journalist and author. She was one of the
founders of Spartakusbund, from which sprang the German Communist Party, and a significant
leader of the German political Left. Arrested in 1916, she was charged with sedition and
imprisoned. On January of 1919 she was again arrested, this time by the Freikorps, and on the
way to jail was assassinated.
Until recently, little was known of Rosa Luxemburg's personal history, as she guarded her
private life assiduously. Newly discovered information has revealed a unique family environment
that can be directly attributed to her accomplishments as an adult. Her family relationship was
close and always supportive. Luxemburg was reared in an atmosphere of mutual respect, trust,
humanity and contempt for social and ethnic distinctions; this in complete contrast to the one
distinct characteristic of European culture- nationalism. She grew up enveloped in an "assimilated
Polish-Jewish peer group whose cultural background was German, political formation Russian
and had formed their own isolated code of honor(Rosa Luxemburg, p15)." They thought of
themselves as simply European standing outside of all social ranking. Her particular heritage
explains Luxemburg's self-confidence in the face of a male dominated, racist, society, as well as
developing her passionate and rigid sense of morality.
Luxemburg's political ideas were based in her desire to further humanitarian good, not to
further her own career or ambition. They, therefore, are uncluttered by personal agendas and
come from a uniquely feminine perspective. The ideas are inexplicable, being simultaneously
radical and yet obvious. History has continually proven her correct, most obviously, through her
prediction of the failure of the Soviet Union.
Luxemburg's obscurity in history can be attributed to it's rewriting by the Soviet regime
after World War II. Her ideas, although based in Marxism were uniquely her own and therefore a
threat to Lenin. But her philosophies belong wherever the history of political ideas is seriously
taught. Luxemburg's death kept the German Left splintered, she being probably the only member
capable of coalescing the various factions. If Rosa Luxemburg had lived to lead the proletariat in
Germany, it can be argued that Hitler and W.W.II might never have occurred.
Nettl, J.P. with an introduction by Hannah Arendt. Rosa Luxemburg. Oxford University Press, 1969.
Orlow, Dietrich. A history of modern Germany 1871 to present. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, c1995.
Johnson, Paul. Modern Times; the world from the Twenties to the Eighties. Harper & Row Pub., 1983.
Laquer, Walter. Europe in our time; a history -1945-1992. New York: Viking Press, c1992.
Internet: web sites- http://www.worldmedia.com/manucon/cards/luxem.htm