ROSA LUXEMBURG STIFTUNG
The Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung is an internationally operating, progressive non-profit institution for civic education affiliated with Germany’s “Die Linke” (Left Party). Active since 1990, the foundation has been committed to the analysis of social processes and developments worldwide. In cooperation with organizations around the globe, it works on democratic and social participation, empowerment of disadvantaged groups, alternatives for economic and social development, conflict prevention, and peaceful conflict resolution. Its international activities aim to provide civic education by means of academic analyses, public programs, and projects conducted together with partner institutions. In order to be able to mentor and coordinate these various projects, the foundation has established 17 regional offices around the world. The RLS has been granted special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council in 2013.
The foundation’s New York Office, located at 275 Madison Avenue, opened its doors in 2012. It serves two major tasks: to work on issues concerning the United Nations, including collaboration with people and political representatives from the Global South, and to work with North American (U.S. and Canadian) progressives in universities, unions, social movements, progressive institutions, and think tanks. The office’s Co-Directors are Stefanie Ehmsen and Albert Scharenberg. The New York Office is part of the global network of the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung.
The “Left Party” (Die Linke) was founded in 2007 as merger of the primarily East German “Party of Democratic Socialism” (PDS) and the West German “Electoral Alternative for Jobs and Social Justice” (WASG). In the last federal election in September 2013, it became the third strongest party, winning 8.6% of the popular vote and 64 seats in the German Bundestag (36 women and 28 men). The head of the Left Party’s parliamentary group is Gregor Gysi, 65. The party’s current presidents are Katja Kipping, 35, and Bernd Riexinger, 57. The Left Party has elected representatives in 10 of the 16 German states and thousands of elected representatives on the county level.
In the European Parliament, the Left Party’s eight members are part of the “Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left” (GUE/NGL).
The Rosa Luxemburg Foundation bears the name of one of the great women of the 20th century. Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919) was an outstanding representative of the European socialist movement. With all of her energy she struggled to prevent World War I, which then raged from 1914 to 1918. Along with Karl Liebknecht, she was the Social Democratic Party’s (SPD) most important internationalist and anti-militarist representative. She was a passionate critic of capitalism, drawing strength for radical action from her critiques. She welcomed the Russian Revolution with hope but, as a revolutionary democrat, remained critical and alert: with great prescience, she attacked the Bolsheviks’ dictatorial policies early on.
Rosa Luxemburg belonged to the disadvantaged, often persecuted minorities her entire life, for reasons of both birth and fate: She was Jewish—and she could not escape anti-Semitism even though she had no interest in religion; she was Polish—and as a Pole she was subjected to both German and Russian rule. But at the same time, her indomitable will led her to determine the course of her own life—contrary to the narrow conventions of her time.
Rosa Luxemburg was a scholar with a doctoral degree—at a time when few women went to college. She was one of the few women active in politics—prejudice against women in public life was widespread, extending well into the left-wing parties.
Rosa Luxemburg did not live her life as someone else’s wife—a provocative attitude against the morality of her time.
Rosa Luxemburg was an exile. Despite her German citizenship, she was still Polish in the eyes of her political enemies.
Rosa Luxemburg was a radical leftist—a crime punishable by death in her occupied Polish homeland and cause for constant persecution in her adopted home of Germany.
Rosa Luxemburg is a martyr of the German Revolution. On January 15, 1919, she was beaten to death by murderers in uniform—people who were part of the same crowd that would later openly support handing power over to the Nazis.
Rosa Luxemburg’s fate is inseparably linked to the development of the German labor movement, the fighting among its various tendencies, and ultimately its splintering. She was a member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, a co-founder of the Spartacus League and then of the Communist Party of Germany.
Rosa Luxemburg left and continues to leave no room for indifference. She lived out her convictions loudly and without compromise. With human warmth and an intoxicating temperament, she was able to win over many people who accepted her without prejudice. Those who did not see her as an equal, however, responded with fear.
Rosa Luxemburg’s intransigent struggle against war and her radical insistence on linking political freedom with social equality have lost none of their resonance today.
The Rosa Luxemburg Foundation is indebted to this democratic socialist.
Watch: Video of Kathleen Chalfant Reading from The Letters of Rosa Luxemburg, November 2012.
Link: The Letters of Rosa Luxemburg Published in 2011 with the support of the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung
Download: Rosa Luxemburg or: The Price of Freedom Published by the foundation’s Karl Dietz Verlag
Read: Interview with RLS-NYC Co-director Stefanie Ehmsen about Rosa Luxemburg and feminism, in: “The Socialist”, 1/2013.
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The Russian Revolution is usually considered a watershed between the “long” 19th and the “short” 20th century. What Eric Hobsbawm referred to as the “Age of Extremes” was consequently initiated by the events in Russia that obviously had a tremendous impact on the United States as well; especially when it comes to the U.S. perception of revolutions and communism as two determining and “dangerous” factors......
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