Rosa Luxemburg in New York, USA


The Life, Legacy and Letters of Rosa Luxemberg – Deborah Eisenberg from N Alexander Benford on Vimeo.

This video from the USA says about itself:

Rosa Luxemburg was celebrated in New York at NYU’s Tishman Auditorium where actress and writer Deborah Eisenberg brought Rosa’s remarkable correspondence to life on stage. Eisenberg joined a distinguished panel of Luxemburg scholars who reminded us of the continuing importance of Luxemburg’s work today: Paul Le Blanc, Anthony Arnove, Peter Hudis and Annelies Laschitza.

DEBORAH EISENBERG, an American short-story writer, actor and teacher who received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2009, is the author of several collections of stories including The Collected Stories of Deborah Eisenberg which has just been named a finalist for this year’s PEN/Faulkner Award.

See also here.

Rosa Luxemburg’s letters


This video says about itself:

Rosa Luxemburg was one of the most prominent revolutionary socialist theorists, after Marx and Engels. In 1914, in opposition to the SPD’s support of German involvement in World War I, she, together with Karl Liebknecht, founded the revolutionary Spartakusbund (Spartacist League), that in 1919 became the Communist Party of Germany (KPD). In November 1918, during the German Revolution she founded the Die Rote Fahne (The Red Flag), the central organ of the left wing revolutionaries. She regarded the Spartacist uprising of January 1919 in Berlin as a mistake, but supported it after it had begun. When the revolt was crushed by the rightwing Freikorps, Luxemburg, Liebknecht and hundreds of their supporters were captured, manhandled and killed. Since their deaths, Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht have achieved great symbolic status amongst both social democrats and Marxists.

By John Green in Britain:

The Letters Of Rosa Luxemburg

Edited by Georg Adler, Peter Hudis & Annelies Laschitza (Verso, £25)

Tuesday 15 February 2011

This volume of 230 of Rosa Luxemburg‘s letters was published to commemorate the [1]40th anniversary of her birth in March 1871.

That edition was based largely on the German selection Herzlichst, Ihre Rosa and published by Dietz Verlag in the GDR in 1989.

These letters are the first volume in English of what is hoped will eventually be Luxemburg‘s complete works in 14 volumes.

Verso is once again to be congratulated for this publishing inititiative, in an excellent translation by George Shriver.

What is also invaluable is a glossary of personalities mentioned in the letters and very informative footnotes.

Luxemburg has always been a controversial figure on the left, but was revered in her day and was undoubtedly one of the all-time leading thinkers of the socialist and communist movements.

She famously clashed with Lenin on the tactics adopted by the Bolsheviks and was always clear that socialism at the expense of democracy was not a road she was willing to take.

Like all collections of letters not originally intended for a wider readership or publication, much here is concerned with the daily trials and tribulations of friends, comrades and lovers and observations of a purely personal nature.

Yet they give a unique insight into her character, her deep humanity as well as her passionate commitment to the struggle for socialism.

Her unsuccessful attempts to reconcile her need for personal love, stability and homely pleasures with the enormous demands of the struggle would be ideal material for a dramatist.

She was often imprisoned by the German authorities who feared her fiery rhetoric and popularity and included here are some of her prison letters.

Despite the harsh conditions and frustration at her incarceration, she always dismisses her own deprivations to enquire about the health and well-being of friends outside, attempting to cheer them up and reignite their commitment to the cause.

She can be severely critical, uncompromisingly militant but also warm and compassionate.

Her resilience in the face of great odds, her thirst for knowledge and breadth of interests, as well as her self-sacrifice and sense of humour, are still inspirations for us today.

The odd quirky Americanisms grate a little but are minor – “Kuchen” is not really “Cookie” and “Titmice” will sound archaic to an English readership.

See also here. And here.

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Sick games with Rosa Luxemburg’s dead body exposed


From British daily The Independent:

Why ‘Red Rosa‘s’ fans got the wrong grave

Pathologist says headless body in mortuary belongs to Luxemburg

By Tony Paterson in Berlin

Saturday, 30 May 2009

She was nicknamed “Red Rosa” and millions of Germans still make the pilgrimage to an unremarkable suburb of east Berlin to pay their respects at her grave. But now it has emerged that the body of the assassinated revolutionary heroine, Rosa Luxemburg, may never have been buried at all.

Pathologists at Berlin’s main Charité hospital claimed yesterday that a headless, handless and footless “mystery corpse” that had been lying unidentified deep in its mortuary for decades was almost certainly that of the early 20th century leftist leader who was shot in the head in 1919. “The corpse reveals evidence which bears a striking similarity to the body of the real Rosa Luxemburg,” said Dr Michael Tsokos, head of the hospital’s pathology department. “I doubt that she was ever buried.”

Polish–born Luxemburg was one of Germany’s foremost Marxist theorists and founded the German Communist Party, the DKP, on 1 January, 1919.

No: the German communist party then founded was the KPD, not the DKP. After the Second World War, in 1956, West Germany (the Federal Republic) banned the KPD. The DKP was founded later, in 1968, in West Germany; and is active today throughout re-unified Germany.

But just a fortnight later, the 47-year-old was captured, allegedly tortured, and finally shot in the head by right-wing militiamen. Her body was dumped in the city’s Landwehr canal, but later retrieved, with records showing that she was buried in Friedrichsfelde cemetery five months after her death.

However, the post-mortem carried out on the body before it was interred did not show evidence of her being hit by rifle butts or shot in the head, according to Dr Tsokos. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the corpse was exhumed to allow a second autopsy and that raised more doubts. Hospital records showed that Luxemburg was born with a hip deformation that resulted in her legs being different lengths, but the buried corpse showed no such limb variation.

The body discovered in the Charité’s vault was only discovered by chance as Dr Tsokos was working on putting together an exhibit. A computer scan has revealed the body of a woman aged between 40 and 50, who had suffered from arthritis and had one leg slightly longer than the other. Dr Tsokos said he was now hoping to obtain a personal item of Luxemburg in order to do a DNA test and definitively confirm the body was hers. “A hat would be nice,” he said, as it could contain strands of her hair.

Luxemburg was assassinated along with fellow revolutionary Karl Liebknecht. She died at the height of a post World War One leftist uprising in Berlin at the hands of German soldiers [rather, ex soldier privateers] still supporting the exiled and defeated Kaiser Wilhelm II. The historian Isaac Deutscher described her murder as “Nazi Germany’s first triumph”, the celebrated playwright Berthold Brecht wrote a poem in her honour and Communist East Germany named a central Berlin square after her.

Most of the German left – ranging from Social Democrats to hard-line former East German Communists – have a special place in their heart for “Red Rosa”. The notion that millions of her fans have been duped for 90 years by going on pilgrimages each January to a grave that does not contain her body was greeted with shock and consternation yesterday.

The Rosa Luxemburg Foundation said that it was “deeply dismayed” to learn that the body of an unknown woman appeared to have been passed off as Luxemburg. It blamed Germany’s then Minister for the Army, Gustav Noske, for playing a “disgusting game with the dead” and urged the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel to “clear up the mystery and finally lay Rosa Luxemburg’s corpse to rest”.

See also here. And here.

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