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90 Years Later, Rosa Luxemburg's
Remains Are Found

By Ingo Niebel Gara

13 June, 2009

Sooner or later victims reappear and demand justice. This typical crime novel thesis has been confirmed once more in Germany. Michael Tsokas, director of Pathology at the Charité hospital in Berlin, has reported the existence of a body that could be that of communist leader Rosa Luxemburg

This charismatic communist leader was killed and made to disappear by right-wing militarists in 1919. The crime was perpetrated with the blessings of the German Social Democrats, one of its perpetrators acknowledged in 1970. The possible appearance of Luxemburg's remains will have consequences for the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) in a very important election year. This party is fighting for its survival as a mass party.

When Michael Tsokas became head of Pathology at the Charité hospital in 2007 he came across the remains of an anonymous woman who had been part of his institute's collection for 90 years. The body is missing its head, arms and legs. After two years of research, Tsokas made the results of its findings public: he believes that these are the remains of communist heroine Rosa Luxemburg, because the skeleton measured one and a half meters and has a hip deformation consistent with the political activist’s characteristic way of walking. However, Tsokas' finding is inconsistent with the report drafted by the two most prestigious German coroners in 1919. It seems they performed an autopsy on another woman’s body, whose hip was perfect. Furthermore, the wound they found in her skull is not consistent with the brutal blow inflicted with a rifle butt Luxemburg received, before she was shot in the temple at close range.


Who was buried with her comrade Karl Liebknecht on June 19, 1919 in the Friedrichsfelde cemetery in Berlin under the name of Rosa Luxemburg? Who ordered this violation of the law? Did the SPD, governing at the time, pressure the forensic experts into falsifying an autopsy so as to rapidly take a dead woman who was still causing them serious problems off their hands? This recent discovery does not change the historical facts. On January 15, 1919, several soldiers led by the ultra right-wing official Waldemar Pabst, arrested Luxemburg and Liebknecht after the failure of a communist uprising in Berlin. They took the two activists to their headquarters where they tortured them brutally. Pabst ordered them killed after receiving approval from the highest echelons of the SPD. The party was carrying out an uncompromising struggle for power against all political parties to their left. They did it with the support of the most reactionary forces of the defunct monarchy.

During that civil war, rightwing soldiers executed thousands of leftists without any trial. In 1962 Pabst acknowledged that the Minister of War, Gustav Noske (SPD) authorized all the deaths. In 1970, he added that the authorization required the endorsement of the president and head of the German SPD, Friedrich Ebert. That night in January, Liebknecht was shot in the back. His body was then handed over to the police, claiming he died during an “escape attempt ". The lifeless body of Luxemburg was thrown in one of the channels of Berlin, where it appeared four months later.


Tsokas believes the arms and legs are missing, because they tied weights to the body with cables and, in an advanced state of decomposition, the cables cut them off. The coroner did not rule out that the skull could have disappeared, because at that time pathologists included the head of the famous in their macabre collections. Now, he is expecting that a DNA test will reveal the identity of the dead woman. A niece of Luxembourg is now living in Warsaw.

Should Rosa Luxemburg’s identity be confirmed, the head of the Die Linke parliamentary group, Gregor Gysi, will demand from the President, from the Federal Government and from Linke a proper burial in the “cemetery of the Socialists" in Berlin. Every second Sunday in January, thousands of activists pay tribute here to those who died for a better world.

In this election year, Die Linke could take advantage of the appearance of Luxemburg in the battle of ideas against the SPD, not just by clarifying the collaboration established by the social democrats with the extreme right-wing in 1919, but also by clarifying the doubts concerning the alleged suicide with firearms of the high echelon of the Red Army Faction (RAF) in a high-security prison in 1977. These violent deaths occurred when Helmut Schmidt was head of the social democratic government.

A CubaNews translation by Giselle Gil. Edited by Walter Lippmann.


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