Distinguished Women of Past and Present

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Rosa Luxemburg

1871-1919
From: Germany, Poland
Fields: Activism and Social Service, Philosophy
Key Words/Phrases: political activist, philosopher, Marxist martyr
 
Luxemburg, Rosa (1871-1919), German socialist leader and revolutionary, prominent in the international socialist movements in the early years of the 20th century. She was born on March 5, 1871, in Zamoßç, Poland (then a part of Russia), and was educated in Warsaw, where she became active in political societies. In 1889 she fled Poland to avoid imprisonment for her activities and settled in Switzerland; she studied natural science and political economy at the University of Zürich, writing a doctoral dissertation entitled The Industrial Development of Poland (1898). In 1898 she migrated to Germany, acquiring citizenship by marriage to a German worker, and affiliated herself with the German Social Democratic party (SPD), the leading organization of international socialism. During the Russian Revolution of 1905 Luxemburg went to Warsaw to participate in the struggle and was imprisoned. After her release she taught in the SPD school in Berlin (1907-14) and wrote The Accumulation of Capital (1913; trans. 1951). At the outbreak of World War I, she and the German socialist Karl Liebknecht formed a revolutionary faction within the SPD that became known as the Spartacists. Because of her vociferous opposition to the war, she was imprisoned; after her release in November 1918 she helped to transform the Spartacists into the Communist party of Germany. Luxemburg reluctantly took part in the unsuccessful Spartacist uprising against the government in January 1919, and both she and Liebknecht were arrested and murdered by German troops on the 15th of that month.

"Luxemburg, Rosa" Microsoft® Encarta.
Copyright© 1995 Microsoft Corporation.


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