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To those of us living in Berlin, Rosa Luxemburg’s name rings through our ears every time we hop on the U-Bahn heading towards Mitte. Rosa Luxemburg Platz, named after her in 1969, is in the centre of it all – home to the Babylon Kino, Volksbühne, and situated just around the corner from Alexanderplatz.
Wandering around the square, one stumbles upon 60 quotations from the woman some fondly refer to as “Red Rosa”, after the epitaph Bertolt Brecht wrote for her in 1919. Imprinted on the ground in bronze characters, taken from her works and letters, the scattering of quotations express her revolutionary zeal and beliefs.
They are a quiet reminder to the residents and tourists of Berlin of Luxemburg’s monumental impact on the political scene in the early 20th century. One of her most famous statements, directly to the left of the Volksbühne, reads:
“Freiheit nur für die Anhänger der Regierung, nur für die Mitglieder einer Partei – mögen Sie noch so zahlreich sein – ist keine Freiheit. Freiheit is immer Freiheit der Andersdenkenden.”
“Freedom only for the supporters of the government, only for the members of a party – however numerous they may be – is no freedom at all. Freedom is always the freedom of the one who thinks differently.”
To this day, the body of Luxemburg remains undiscovered. However, her grave, like the memorial in Tiergarten, like Rosa Luxemburg Platz, and like the plaque at the women’s prison, serves as yet another tribute to her brave and inspiring life.
For more on the contemporary legacy of Rosa Luxemburg, check out the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, based here in Berlin, or watch the 1986 film, Rosa Luxemburg, chronicling her life and the events of the Spartacus Uprising.