Germany: Massive commemoration for revolutionary martyrs

Saturday, January 17, 2009

On January 11, up to 80,000 people braved freezing temperatures in Berlin to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the murder of socialist revolutionaries Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht.

Led by the left-wing party Die Linke, participants laid thousands of red carnations on the graves of the militants.

The two leaders of a budding workers' revolution were abducted and murdered on January 15, 1919, by the Freikorps — a right-wing militia created from the remnants of Germany's imperial army by the Social Democratic Party (SPD) government to crush the workers' uprising.

Luxemburg and Liebknecht had split from the SPD in 1914 in opposition to its support for World War I and formed the Spartacist League, which later became the Communist Party of Germany.

Over the next five years, the SPD — a supposedly "socialist" party — helped crush a series of workers' uprisings, protecting the interests of big business at the expense of the living conditions of a population devastated by the war.

To many of those attending the commemoration, Luxemburg — who argued that humanity's future is stark choice between socialism and barbarism — is more relevant than ever in the face of the global economic crisis, climate change and war.