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Count Harry Kressler Liveblogs the Suppression of the Spartikists

From Harry Graf Kressler, Berlin in Lights:

Thursday 16 January 1919: Karl Liebnecht and Rosa Luxemburg have met with a dreadful and fantastic end. The midday edition of BZ has published the story. Last night Liebknecht was shot from behind while being taken in a truck through the Tiergarten and, so it is said, trying to escape. Rosa Luxemburg, having been interrogated by officers of the Guards Cavalry Division in the Eden Hotel, was first beaten unconscious by a crowd ther and then, on the canal bridge between Kurfurstendamm and Hitzigstrasse, dragged out of the car in which she was being removed. Allegedly she was killed. Her body has at any rate disappeared. But, according to what is known so far, she might have been rescued and brought to safety by party comrades. Through the civil war, which she and Liebknecht plotted, they had so many lives on their conscience that their violent end has, as it were, a certain inherent logic. The manner of their deaths, not the deaths themselves, is what causes consternation.

Friday 17 January 1919: Today they started taking down from the Brandenburger Tor the decorations, the laurel wreaths, the red streamers and banners, and the mottoes 'Peace and Freedom' which were put up for the entry of the troops into the city from the Front. The whole Spartacus rising, centered on the area between Brandenburger Tor and Wilhelmstrasse, was enacted within this festooned setting. Now there stands at the corner of Unter den Linden and Wilhelmstrasse a 105 mm gun, its crew wearing steel helmets.

Doubtless a healthy and well-mannered young officer or Junker makes for pleasanter company than the average proletarian, Juyst as uch as Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, with thgeir deep and genuine love for the poor and downtroden and their spirit of self-sacrifice are personalities prefereable to careerists and trade union officials. The crucial point, though, is that is is probably more importnat to raise the general level of a nation than to breed outstanding physical or ethical specimens. Which shall apply, the aristocratic or the eugenic ideal? Not that it alters the fact that the Guards subaltern is, as Liebkneht and Rosa Luxemburg were, individually a finer type, as well as standing higher in the human scale, than the proletarians and little men who are on top today.

Saturday 18 January 1919: In the afternoon a visit from Wieland Herzfelde. He frankly admitted to being a Communist and supporter of the Spartacus League. Not, he insisted, like Liebknecht for sentimental and ethical reasons, but because Communism is a more economic method of production than what we have at present and in the state of Europe's pauperization is essential. He also regards terror as necessary because human nature is not naturally good and therefore sanctions are ineluctable.

On the other hand terror need not be of the bloody sort. He had in mind form of boycott. The Spartacus rising, he maintained, was a spontaneous flare-up organized on amateur lines. Reports about Russian planning and Russian money were nonsense. The rising broke out against the wishes and expectations of the League's leaders.

I discussed with Herzfelde the publication of a newe periodical of a literary, artistic, and poiltical character, brought out at irregular intervals, cheap (not more than fifty pfennigs per number), newspaper-style make-up but in accordance with his own typographical ideas, and directed in the first instance towards street sales. In answer to my question as to which of the younger writers and artists are imbued with the Spartacus-Bolshevist outlook, Herzfelde named Daubler, Grosz, himself, the whole of the Malik publishing-house and everybody connected with it, as well as many others. These would support the periodical with contributions.

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