Letter to Clara Zetkin

Berlin, 25 December 1918

Dearest Klara,

     today for the first time since Breslau I'm sitting at my desk, and I want to send you a Christmas greeting. How much I would prefer to travel to visit you! But that is out of the question, because I am chained to the editorial office, and every day I am there until midnight, at the printing presses to oversee the making up of the issue, and besides in these disturbed times the most urgent information and instructions that must be given still come in at 10 or 11 at night, and they must be responded to immediately. On top of that almost every day, from early in the morning, there are conferences and discussions, and public meetings in between, and as a change of pace every few days there come urgent warnings from "official sources" that Karl and I are threatened by gangs of killers [Mordbuben], so that we are not supposed to sleep at home but must seek shelter somewhere else, until the point was reached that this business became too stupid, in my opinion, and I simply came back here to Südende. I have been living this way, in the midst of tumult and turmoil and all in a rush from the first moment, and I don't have time to come to my senses or get my bearings. In all this I have only one small favorable prospect: we are expecting Julek [Marchlewski] soon, [and] then I could perhaps relax for a short time and go to visit you. It only depends on when he will succeed in coming across the border.1

     Tensions are growing sharper here, both outwardly—with the Ebert people—and internally, in the USPD. You are probably receiving Rote Fahne regularly now and you see that we never cease to call for a party congress [of the USPD]. Yesterday there came an official rejection of that demand. The party is in complete disarray—Ströbel, Haase, Bock (!), and the Freiheit are openly demanding that a "line of demarcation be drawn against the left," which means against us. On the other hand, in the provinces the merger between the USPD and the Scheidemanns is in full swing. Zietz is now conducting herself in an extremely ambiguous manner: it was she who cooked up a "nationwide conference" [instead of a party congress] and who blocked the holding of a party congress.

     Tuesday! And now yesterday [that is, on December 25 during the day—this letter being written around midnight at the end of Christmas day] there was of course a "revolutionary disturbance" again. There was an enormous demonstration [and march] to the Imperial Palace,  and then a section of the demonstrators spontaneously headed for the Vorwärts building and occupied it! An armored car and 18 machine guns were found inside! I was then called in a hurry to a session and didn't get home here until 11:30 p.m. tonight. Today [on December 26] I have to go back into the city right away. And that's how it's been all these days. It remains that way, at least as I am writing this hasty greeting.

     A thousand best wishes!


1 Julian Marchelewski was taken into „military protective custody” on May 22, 1916, and imprisoned in the Berlin municipal prison. On October 25, 1916, he was transferred to the Havelburg internment camp, from which he was freed in mid-1918 by the Soviet government in exchange for German prisoners of war. He went to Moscow by way of Petrograd, from which he was able to return to Berlin only after overcoming great difficulties, and not until January 18, 1919.

Quoted by Rosa Luxemburg: The Letters of Rosa Luxemburg, edited by George Adler, Peter Hudis and Annelies Laschitza, translated by George Shriver, Verso 2011,  p. 487-488.