Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919) was a passionate letter writer. Her letters repeatedly reveal the private side of this political fighter and brilliant theoretician of liberal socialism. She especially uses her several imprisonments to express in letters her thoughts about literature and music and the world of animals and plants. She emerges as a sensitive and close observer, as a person with a broad horizon. She approaches her correspondents almost lovingly, as if not she – the prisoner – but those who are free needed her encouragement.
In this respect, her exchange of letters with Sophie Liebknecht is one of the most moving. From her prison detention in Wronke she is already writing regularly to her and continues her correspondence after her transfer to the Breslau military prison. The letter to the wife of her political comrade in arms, Karl Liebknecht, whom she addresses with the nickname Sonjuscha, emanates from here. Sorrowful but without complaining she describes her everyday prison experience and how, from time to time in the loneliness of her cell, she rises in thoughts above her depressing situation by considering even this as a part of life. This very poetic passage in the letter of November 1917 culminates in the sentence: 'I believe the secret of life is nothing other than life itself'.
Reinhard Fehling (music scholar and composer) has set an excerpt of her letter to music, having slightly shortened and regrouped the text. This has enabled an almost lyrical quality and becomes worthy of song. Kate Evans has provided her wonderful cartoons and Dirk Baxmann ('Zielspur' Dortmund) has sensitively filmed it all.
Rosa's Letter from Prison – '...and I'm smiling at Life in the Darkness'
Julia Treinies (song and words)
Freya Deiting (violin)
Dagmara Daniel (viola)
Jelena Likusic (cello)
Matthias Hacker (doublebass)
Ralf Kiwit (saxophone and sound recording in his 'subtone-studios', Dortmund)
Rosa Luxemburg: Letters from Prison, most recent publisher Dietz Verlag, Berlin 2019.
Kate Evans: Rosa. Die Graphic Novel über Rosa Luxemburg. Dietz Verlag, Berlin 2019.
Kate Evans: Red Rosa. A Graphic Biography of Rosa Luxemburg. Verso Books.