During our last phone call in early December, Annalies Laschitza asked me to reserve the evening of 9 February in my calendar. She wanted to mark her 85th birthday not with a celebration, but rather just a dinner among a small circle of friends. She also asked me not to arrange for any more press appointments; effective immediately, she would no longer give any interviews about Rosa Luxemburg nor anything else.
I tried to reach her by phone only several days later – a publishing house in Madrid had contacted us with several editorial queries only she could answer. Yesterday, I received the news: she passed away in the hospital on 10 December. We were caught totally unprepared. To us, Annalies Laschitza always seemed somehow immortal. Her most recent book about Karl Liebknecht had just been published by the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung in Saxony this November.
Following Günter Radczun (Berlin, 1978), Gilbert Badia (Paris, 2004), Feliks Tych (Warsaw, 2015), Jakov Drabkin (Moscow, 2015), and Narihito Ito (Tokyo, 2017), the last great figure of Rosa Luxemburg scholarship has left us. These researchers opened up pathways to a political and historical cosmos in which new stars repeatedly emerged: Leo Jogiches, Paul Levi, Ines Wetzel, the undistorted and authentic Clara Zetkin, Hugo Simon, Alexander Stein, Valeriu Marcu, Fritz Sternberg, and more. It is no surprise that they were mostly forgotten, given that their political stars remained without planets.
Even Rosa Luxemburg, the central body in this constellation, surprised us with new secrets, black holes, and shooting stars suddenly appearing from around the corner.
An episode from last summer is characteristic of Annelies Latschitza, her discipline and her unconditional seriousness. After our colleague Holger Politt reminded us that Rosa Luxemburg’s grandfather on her father’s side was buried in Berlin, we conducted further investigations: Abraham Luxenberg (“Luxemburg” only came two generations later) had lived on Linienstraße and was buried in the cemetery on Schönhauser Allee in 1872. On my next visit – it was in the morning – I related this story to Annelies. She had written about this fact (in her book Im Lebensrausch, trotz alledem, Berlin: Dietz, 2000), but did not recall it at that moment. The biographer of Rosa Luxemburg looked at me incredulously. Yet the very next day I received a letter: “The heat and your hasty questions knocked me off my stride yesterday. I rummaged through all kinds of materials and found that I can contribute something on ‘Abraham’.” This was followed by an archival note: on 24 May 1989 a local historian had taken Annlies Laschitza to the gravestone, which had already been toppled. The inscription read: “Here lie the ashes of a righteous and noble man…” Now I was the one to look on incredulously.
Alongside the many other losses that Annelies Laschitza’s passing constitutes, we will never be able to answer the enquiry from Madrid.
Jörn Schütrumpf, 16 December 2018
Annelies Laschitza was the leading editor (together with Günter Radczun) of the original Collected Works of Rosa Luxemburg, published in seven volumes by Dietz Verlag in Berlin, as well as her six-volume collected letters, also published by Dietz. A complete bibliography of Laschitza's published writings in German can be found here. Translation by Loren Balhorn.