The cold-blooded murder of revolutionary icons Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht in the pitched political battles of post-WWI Germany marks one of the greatest tragedies of the twentieth century. No other political assassination inflamed popular passions and transformed Germany’s political climate as that killing on the night of January 15–16, 1919, in front of the luxurious Hotel Eden. It not only cut short the lives of two of the country’s most brilliant political leaders, but also inaugurated a series of further political assassinations designed to snuff out the revolutionary flame and, ultimately, pave the way for the ultra-reactionary forces that would take power in 1933. To commemorate the 100th anniversary of their untimely deaths, Klaus Gietinger has carefully reconstructed the events of that fateful night, digging deep into the archives to identify who exactly was responsible for the murder, and what forces in high-placed positions had a hand in facilitating it and protecting the culprits.
Translated by Loren Balhorn
About Rosa Luxemburg:
Rosa Luxemburg was a Jewish activist and founder of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD). She was killed in 1919 by troops opposed to the revolutionary movement that swept Germany in the wake of the First World War.
In the centre of the painting a figure holds Luxemburg’s corpse, while at top right is a collaged transcription of an account of the murder. Kitaj associated Luxemburg with his grandmother Helene, who was forced to flee Vienna in the 1930s. The veiled figure at top left represents his maternal grandmother, who fled Russia as a result of earlier pogroms of the Jewish people.