Wilhelm Liebknecht

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Wilhelm Liebknecht
(photography from the 1870s)

Wilhelm Philipp Martin Christian Ludwig Liebknecht (born on March 29, 1826 in Gießen , Grand Duchy of Hesse ; died on August 7, 1900 in Charlottenburg ) was one of the founding fathers of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD).

As a radical democratic revolutionary , he took an active part in the revolutions of 1848/49 - after the French February Revolution , especially in Baden (see Baden Revolution ). Due to their suppression, he lived in exile for thirteen years from 1849 to 1862: first in Switzerland and from 1850 in England , where as a member of the League of Communists he was in close contact with Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels and influenced Marxist positions turned to. Back in Germany, Liebknecht became one of the most prominent socialist politicians in the Reichstag during the first decades of the German Empire . There he was an important opponent of the Reich Chancellor Otto von Bismarck and the imperialist aspiration for world power of Germany under Kaiser Wilhelm II following the Bismarck era .

Apart from the political work was active Liebknecht after studying various humanities subjects in Gießen, Berlin and Marburg as well as two craft training , among other educational as teachers and journalistically as a journalist and editor .

As a great-grandson, he was a descendant of the mathematician and theologian Johann Georg Liebknecht . Wilhelm Liebknecht himself had several descendants with different political, cultural and scientific significance, including three of his sons: in addition to the chemist Otto Liebknecht, the socialist politicians Theodor and Karl Liebknecht . His grandchildren include the artist Robert Liebknecht and the architect Kurt Liebknecht .

Meaning and effect of Liebknecht

Protagonists of the early German labor movement organized by party politics.
Top row: August Bebel, Wilhelm Liebknecht for the SDAP. Middle: Karl Marx as an ideal source of inspiration. Bottom row: Carl Wilhelm Tölcke , Ferdinand Lassalle for the ADAV.
Wilhelm Liebknecht on a GDR postage stamp from the series “Leader of the German Labor Movement” from 1955 ; Portrait against the background of a court scene based on the Leipzig high treason trial

Wilhelm Liebknecht achieved historical importance as one of the founders of the party-politically organized German social democracy . His biography is closely linked to the development of the socialist labor movement in Germany and Europe in the 19th century.

From 1863 to 1865 Liebknecht was a member of the first social democratic party organization in the states of the German Confederation , the General German Workers' Association (ADAV) founded on the initiative of Ferdinand Lassalle . After his expulsion due to increasing and fundamental political differences with the party leadership, Liebknecht and August Bebel were among the initiators and co-founders of the other predecessor parties of the SPD during the transition from the German Confederation to the “ small German ” nation state of the German Reich : in 1866 they founded the Saxon People's Party which was merged into the Social Democratic Labor Party (SDAP) in 1869 . In 1875, after a compromise was reached, it was united with the ADAV to form the Socialist Workers' Party (SAP). The latter was renamed the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) in 1890 after twelve years of oppression - in fact its prohibition by the Socialist Law .

For the respective parties Liebknecht was from 1867 to 1871 and again from 1874 until his death deputy in the Reichstag , which by the time the electorate (men of German nationality from the age of 25 years) elected Parliament : first, the Reichstag of the North German Confederation , then of the subsequent German Empire. In addition, he was a member of the Saxon state parliament from 1879 to 1885 and from 1889 to 1892 . Between 1876 and 1878 he was a member of the four-member central election committee , the then party executive of the SAP. Furthermore, together with Wilhelm Hasenclever, in 1876 ​​he founded the central organ of what was then SAP, Vorwärts , which has remained the SPD's party newspaper to the present day. He was its editor-in-chief from 1891 until his death. Until 1878 he had shared this function with Hasenclever for two years - before the twelve-year ban on newspapers that was in effect between 1878 and 1890 by the Socialist Law.

With his radical democratic and revolutionary-Marxist positions, Liebknecht played a key role in ensuring that the SPD of the 19th century was ideologically oriented towards this content. Due to his system- opposition stance, out of which Wilhelm Liebknecht sharply criticized the ruling state structures based on the monarchical principle and the German government policy during the Wilhelminian era and before, he was repeatedly charged with various political offenses of his time, including, for example, high treason and libel . In total, he spent about six years of his life in prison.

In addition to his commitment to proletarian educational work (see workers ' education ), Liebknecht was an important representative of internationalism in the workers' movement. Against the background of his anti-militarist stance, international understanding and peace between the states were among the main goals of Liebknecht. After the dissolution of the International Workers' Association , which existed from 1864 to 1876 and whose agent for Germany Liebknecht had been since 1868, he played a key role in founding the Second, the Socialist International, in 1889. He contributed to the fact that the SPD, as its German section, became the world's strongest and most influential socialist party of its time.

Besides the SPD appealed later (and refer, as far as still existing, up to the present), the Communist Party , the SED of the GDR and from it emerged PDS (after its union with the WASG in June 2007. The Left ) in its traditional form to Wilhelm Liebknecht.


Childhood and Adolescence (1826–1842)

Liebknecht's birthplace, Giessen,
at the beginning of the 19th century
Plaque on the site of the birthplace (destroyed in 1944), Burggraben 12/14

After the early death of his parents, the "grand ducal Hessian government registrar for Darmstadt and Gießen" Ludwig Christian Liebknecht (1787–1832), and his wife Katharina, born. Hirsch (1803–1831), daughter of a "Landgrave-Hessian Chief Postmaster" in Hanau, initially took care of the upbringing of Wilhelm Liebknecht and his four siblings. After the grandmother's death in 1834, the next of kin showed no willingness to take in the children. Friends of the father's from the Giessen neighborhood, in particular Karl Wilhelm Oßwald (1789–1845), a candidate in theology, as guardian, took on the further care of the children. Liebknecht also went to school in Giessen, which he finished in 1842 with a high school diploma.

The discrepancy between a Christian moral claim and its lack of implementation (e.g. charity versus lack of care), felt by the orphaned and destitute children in their origin relationship as a contradiction, led the brothers Wilhelm and Louis to a long-term negative attitude towards the church and religious belief; a fact that is causal for Liebknecht's later development into a supporter of the German free-thinker movement.

The story of the fate of Wilhelm Liebknecht's maternal great-uncle, the Protestant pastor Friedrich Ludwig Weidig , influenced the young Liebknecht's social and political attitudes relatively early and - although he had never met him personally - had a formative effect on his later life. In 1834, together with the writer and playwright Georg Büchner, Weidig published and distributed the officially banned social-revolutionary pamphlet Der Hessische Landbote under the heading “Peace to the huts, war to the palaces!”. Weidig died in custody in 1837 after repeatedly torturing him . According to the Hessian judiciary at the time, he had committed suicide. An independent investigation into the deaths of prisoners was not customary at the time.

Studies and first exile (1843–1847 / 48)

Wilhelm Liebknecht studied various humanities subjects at various universities between 1843 and 1847 : first in his hometown Gießen, philology , evangelical theology and philosophy , between 1845/46 a semester at the philosophical faculty in Berlin, finally again philology in Marburg. In addition to his studies, he completed two apprenticeships as a craftsman : in Wieseck near Gießen he trained as a carpenter and in Marburg as a gunsmith . This, he assumed, would help him to cope with his emigration to America, which was temporarily considered for political reasons. Liebknecht was not alone in his family with this consideration. In the end, however, it was only his brother Louis who was to implement the project in 1851 when he emigrated to the USA, where he lived on a farm in Michigan .

Profile of the 21-year-old Wilhelm Liebknecht in the color of Hasso-Nassovia (1847)

As a student, Wilhelm Liebknecht came into contact with the student liaison movement , which campaigned for democratic rights and the national unification of the German Confederation in an all-German nation-state - at the time of Vormärz . Many of the students organized in corps and fraternities were at that time - as a result of the repressive Karlsbad resolutions of 1819, often from the illegal underground - in opposition to the reactionary restoration policy that had been in place since the Congress of Vienna of 1814/1815 , which was essentially led by the Austrian State Chancellor Prince von Metternich was coined.

Liebknecht was more influenced by Saint-Simon's early socialist ideas than by nation-state ideas, which did not prevent him from joining student associations. In 1844 he joined the Allemannia Gießen fraternity and in 1846 the Corps Rhenania Gießen . In Marburg he was accepted into the Corps Hasso-Nassovia on January 12, 1847 . In July 1847, together with students from Fulda, he founded the Corps Rhenania, which was to be dissolved again in the following winter semester.

During his studies in Berlin, Liebknecht came into contact with supporters of the revolutionary Polish national movement from the Prussian province of Posen , with whom he sympathized, in mid-1845 at the age of nineteen . He learned of a planned independence uprising by the Poles , which was betrayed a little later and nipped in the bud. Friends of Wilhelm Liebknecht from this time were among the leaders of the uprising who were accused in the so-called Poland Trial two years later . Liebknecht himself was briefly arrested in March 1846 on his return to Giessen during a detour to the Austrian crown land of Bohemia , interrogated by the Austrian gendarmerie because of his sympathy for the Polish revolutionaries and then expelled from the country.

At the beginning of August 1846 Liebknecht first appeared in public as one of the leaders and spokesmen for the Giessen students. A police measure against an intoxicated fellow student escalated to the point that a division of soldiers from Butzbach was relocated to Gießen to restore public order . Thereupon, with the support of the citizens, the students made an “move” (demonstrative-symbolic relocation of the university location) to Staufenberg Castle, ten kilometers north of the city . Liebknecht and Ludwig Büchner , a younger brother of Georg Büchner, were involved in the negotiations with the university management about the conditions for returning to Gießen . The student revolt also generated a national response. Even the British newspaper The Times made the student pack in Giessen the subject of an editorial.

In the fall of 1846, Liebknecht enrolled in philosophy at the University of Marburg . However, he felt compelled to flee Marburg before completing his studies in the summer of 1847, as he was one of the most well-known political prisoners at the time because of his participation in a public vivat for Sylvester Jordan , as co-author of the Hessian constitution until his prison sentence was lifted in 1845 in Hesse , police and legal reprisals threatened. A friend had warned him of an imminent arrest.

Together with another friend named Maus, Liebknecht left Gießen in the first days of July 1847 with the intention of emigrating to America via Mainz and Rotterdam. In Wisconsin , they wanted to set up a farming cooperative. During the train journey to Mainz-Kastel they met Dr. Ludolf, a teacher at the Froebel Institute, a Zurich "model school" of Karl Froebel , a nephew of the reform pedagogue Friedrich Wilhelm August Froebel . Liebknecht then spontaneously changed his plans and was a teacher at this school in 1847/48. He also made his first journalistic experience as a correspondent for the Mannheimer Abendzeitung , for which he reported, for example, on the Sonderbund War in November 1847, a civil war between the cantons , on the one hand, liberal-progressive and, on the other, Catholic-conservative cantons , which a year later with the Federal Constitution of September 1848 should lead to the conversion of Switzerland from a confederation to a federal state .

Participation in the revolution of 1848/49

Public appeal by the German Democratic Society to the revolutionary Paris Guard mobile for the surrender of weapons in the fight for a German republic

The triggering of the February 1848 bourgeois revolution in France led Liebknecht to Paris , where he actively participated in the revolutionary struggles on the side of the rebels.

The February Revolution, which led to the overthrow of Louis Philippe of Orléans , who was known as the “Citizen King” in the first years of reign, and the proclamation of the Second French Republic , sparked the start of the March Revolution in the states of the German Confederation; - there first in the Grand Duchy of Baden . As a regional component of this pan-German revolution of 1848/49, the Baden Revolution was the one in which the most far-reaching demands for democracy and social change in favor of the socially disadvantaged strata of the population (mainly craft journeymen, workers and farmers without land ownership) were represented.

While still in Paris, Liebknecht joined the German Democratic Legion , which was put together by the poet Georg Herwegh , who lived in exile there, to support the Hecker uprising in Baden . However, Liebknecht fell ill shortly before the Herweghsche Freischärler troop, comprised of around 800 to 1000 men, left Paris for Strasbourg at the end of March 1848, so that he could not take part. After his recovery, Liebknecht initially returned to Zurich.

Gustav Struve (1805–1870), Liebknecht's superior in the Mannheim workers' battalion

In September 1848 Liebknecht took part in the uprising of radical democratic revolutionaries around Gustav Struve in Lörrach in southern Baden , the so-called Struve Putsch . After its suppression, Wilhelm Liebknecht was arrested in Säckingen and later transferred to Freiburg. During his imprisonment in Freiburg , the then 22-year-old fell in love with Ernestine Landolt, six years his junior, a daughter of the prison guard, who was to become Liebknecht's first wife in 1854. In May 1849 he was released after about seven months of pre- trial detention after the Baden May uprising as part of the imperial constitution campaign began in the federal fortress of Rastatt with a mutiny by the Baden garrison on May 11, 1849 .

Liebknecht joined the Baden People's Army during this last phase of the March Revolution . As a lieutenant in the Mannheim workers' battalion, he was adjutant Gustav Struves. The fight of the revolutionaries for the fundamentally already failed imperial constitution included the commitment to the recognition of the democratic changes in some states of the German Confederation and the defense of the Baden republic proclaimed after the flight of the Grand Duke Leopold von Baden on June 1, 1849 against the republic from the north and counterrevolutionary army advancing west . This was of Prussian officers under the command of the brother of King Friedrich Wilhelm IV. Led by Prussia, - said among the revolutionaries as grapeshot Prince William infamous of Prussia, 1861 Prussian King and 1871 in addition to the first German Emperor Wilhelm I should be proclaimed .

Second exile, influence of Karl Marx (1849–1862)

Friedrich Engels (1820–1895), daguerreotype 1840s
Karl Marx (1818–1883), photographer: Richard Beard, London, before 1860

After the revolution was suppressed by Prussian troops in July 1849, Liebknecht was able to avoid capture (which could have led to an execution) by fleeing into exile . He first went back to Switzerland, where he became President of the Democratic Association in Geneva . There he got to know Friedrich Engels , who, as a participant in the Baden revolution, had also found temporary refuge in Switzerland.

The initiative to unite the German workers' education associations in Switzerland led to Liebknecht being arrested again on February 20, 1850 in Murten , and to his expulsion for "socialist activities" on April 7 of the same year. In 1860, in his extensive treatise, Karl Marx accused Mr. Vogt of the emigrant Carl Vogt , who also came from Gießen, of having contributed to the expulsion through the denouncing formulation of the “Revolution Day in Murten”.

Wilhelm Liebknecht came to England via France . In London he joined the Communist League, which had existed since 1847 and was dissolved in 1852 . Through this organization he met Engels again and came into contact with Karl Marx, with whom he developed a personal friendship, which in the following years, while still in exile, did not remain unaffected. In 1859, with a touch of anger regarding the dispute with Liebknecht, Marx wrote in a letter to Engels in which he made polemical and derogatory comments about Wilhelm Liebknecht:

“… Liebknecht is just as useless as a writer as he is unreliable and weak in character. The guy would have received a definitive goodbye kick in the ass this week, if certain circumstances don't force him to be used as a scarecrow for the time being ... "

Nevertheless, Liebknecht's contact with Marx deepened his socialist attitude and shaped his subsequent political stance significantly. In doing so, he continued to be rather distant from the materialistic dialectics of Marx. Despite all approach to the Marxist theory , Liebknecht did not shed his radical democratic roots. For him, democracy without socialism was no real democracy, and socialism without democracy was no real socialism. In his eyes, both were mutually dependent.

Liebknecht found employment in England, among other things, as a private teacher and correspondent , which enabled him to keep himself and his wife Ernestine , whom he married in London in 1854, barely afloat.

Party political organization of social democracy (1863–1890)

As in 1862 by amnesty following the enthronement of Prussian King Wilhelm I to law enforcement for many former 1848 / 49er-revolutionaries during the Reaktionsära was lifted after the March revolution, the couple returned Liebknecht returned to Germany, where Wilhelm Liebknecht first in Prussia in Building the social democratic movement involved. In addition to his commitment to the workers ' education associations, his commitment to party political organization of the workers' movement increased.

Conflict with the ADAV

Ferdinand Lassalle (1825–1864)

In Prussia, Liebknecht became a member of the General German Workers' Association (ADAV), newly founded on the initiative of Ferdinand Lassalle , the first forerunner organization of the later SPD organized as a political party . He worked as a journalist, among other things, for the central organ of the ADAV, the newspaper Der Social-Demokratie , but also for bourgeois-liberal newspapers such as the recently founded Norddeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung , whose line later turned into one that supported Bismarck's policies and rejected social democracy Should change direction.

There had already been differences between Lassalle and Liebknecht over the role of the state, in particular the predominant role of Prussia in the German confederation, represented by Lassalle. Further disagreements revolved around the importance of reform or revolution on the way to a desired socialist society. While Lassalle considered the gradual path to socialism through reforms within a nationally organized social structure possible and strived for it, Liebknecht expected reforms at best to bring about a marginal , but no substantial improvement in the situation of the working class. It presupposed a social and political revolution in the sense of a historical necessity postulated by Marx in order to bring about a fundamental overturning of the prevailing conditions on the way to a classless society . In his view, social democracy should work towards this, and prepare the labor movement for this revolution - not just in a national framework. For Liebknecht, it was important to have close party-political ties to the trade union movement, which at that time was still in its infancy; whereas Lassalle was rather opposed to the union as an organizational form and favored the establishment of productive cooperatives .

Johann Baptist von Schweitzer (1833–1875)

After Lassalle's untimely death as a result of a pistol duel for private reasons in 1864, the clashes between Liebknecht and the party came to a head. In 1865 Wilhelm Liebknecht was expelled from the ADAV as one of the most important representatives of the internal party opposition group, which included Wilhelm Bracke , Samuel Spier and Julius Vahlteich .

The final reason for this exclusion was a conflict that he got into with the editor of the Social Democrat , Johann Baptist von Schweitzer , when Liebknecht criticized the paper's pro-Prussian and small-German nationalistic orientation, because of which he finally left the editorial office . Von Schweitzer, who had been an influential functionary of the ADAV after Lassalle's death in 1864 and its autocratic president from 1867 to 1871 , had pushed Liebknecht's criticism from his party.

Expulsion from Prussia, contact with August Bebel

August Bebel (1840–1913)

Immediately after the expulsion, Liebknecht was also expelled from Berlin and Prussia, whereupon he settled in Leipzig in the Kingdom of Saxony , where he joined the Saxon Workers' Education Association. Here he met August Bebel , who was 14 years his junior and who, under Liebknecht's influence, also moved closer to Marxist positions. In the period that followed, Liebknecht and Bebel developed not only close political cooperation, but also a lifelong personal friendship. Both were united in their rejection of the Prussian military and police state and its hegemony , since 1862 under Otto von Bismarck's prime ministerial presidency. For this reason they sought the mid-1860s, the alliance with the South German liberals , who after the Prussian constitutional conflict and the indemnity bill Bismarck to 1868, for example, the German People's Party (DTVP), a left-liberal elimination of the German Progressive Party , rallied. In contrast to the other split-off from the Progressive Party, the National Liberal Party loyal to Bismarck, the left-wing liberals , which were split up into various smaller parties, did not consistently represent a pure republic, but in some cases a constitutional monarchy - but with the inclusion of Austria, i.e. as a Greater German solution with a federal structure and with clearly limited powers for the ruling monarchs and princes. The hope was connected with the collaboration that the reactionary influence of Prussia would be contained.

From the Saxon People's Party to the SDAP

Together with Bebel, Liebknecht initiated the founding of the Saxon People's Party on August 19, 1866 , which formed an alliance between the increasingly socialist workers' education associations and representatives of an anti-Prussian educated bourgeoisie in Saxony, later referred to as "left-wing liberal" . In the following year, Bebel and Liebknecht were elected together with Reinhold Schraps as members of the more liberal party wing as members of this party in the Reichstag of the North German Confederation, where they, from 1868 together with the German People's Party (DtVP), against the Bismarck government and the supremacy Opposed Prussia. In 1868 he was a co-founder of the Democratic Weekly Paper .

During this time the death of his wife overshadowed Ernestine Liebknecht's private life. In 1867 she fell ill with tuberculosis , then also known as "consumption" or "proletarian disease", and died of it within a short time at the age of 35. The daughters Alice (1857-1933) and Gertrud (1863-1936) emerged from the marriage. One son (Richard) died in his first year in 1857. One year after the death of his first wife, Wilhelm Liebknecht remarried. His second wife Natalie , née Reh (1835–1909), until then a friend of the family, and a distant relative of Liebknecht through the same great-grandfather Johann Georg Liebknecht, was the daughter of the last President of the Frankfurt National Assembly from 1848/49, Jacob Ludwig Theodor Reh and his wife Caroline Theodore Louise Weidig. Natalie Liebknecht gave birth to Theodor (1870–1948), Karl (1871–1919) and Otto (1876–1949), as well as Wilhelm Alexander (1877–1972) and Adolf Curt Carl (1879–1966) in the following years . The second-born son, Karl Liebknecht, was to acquire its own - more widely known - historical significance between 1914 and 1919 as an opponent of the First World War and a KPD co- founder.

The delegates of the Basel Congress of the International Workers' Association in 1869, among them Liebknecht and Spier as representatives of the SDAP

In 1869 the Saxon People's Party was dissolved; its dominant left wing was absorbed by the supraregional Social Democratic Workers' Party (SDAP), which was founded in Eisenach on the initiative of Liebknecht and Bebel and with the participation of some former ADAV dissidents such as Bracke, Spier and Vahlteich and which received a clear socialist program. In the years that followed, the supporters of the SDAP were referred to as the “Lassalleans”, also known as “the Eisenachers”, in contrast to the supporters of the “Prussian-Social Democratic” ADAV.

After the German War of 1866, with the victory of Prussia over Austria by 1867, the German Confederation was dissolved and with the merger of the principalities north of the Main Line, the North German Confederation was formed under Prussian rule. With this, Austria had finally forfeited its dominance in central Central Europe, which had crumbled since the end of the Crimean War in 1856, in favor of Prussia . During this development, it turned out in parliamentary practice between 1867 and 1869 that the goal of a greater German Reich unification had been shattered and thus the alliance between left liberals and socialists in the Saxon People's Party had become superfluous; - especially since the parties critical of the government in the Reichstag were too fragmented to seriously oppose the strong factions of the Conservatives and the National Liberal Party, which supported Bismarck's policies. The Reichstag mandates of the Saxon People's Party were transferred to the SDAP.

Liebknecht published the party organ of the newly founded SDAP, Der Volksstaat . The SDAP declared itself to be the German section of the International Workers 'Association (IAA) founded in London in 1864 , which is now also known as the “First International ” of the workers' movement. Even before the SDAP was constituted, Wilhelm Liebknecht was appointed correspondent at the IAA and its agent for Germany in 1868. In September 1869 he was together with Samuel Spier a delegate of the SDAP at the Basel Congress of the IAA.

Opposition to the war, imprisonment

Wilhelm Liebknecht (standing in the middle on the witness stand), August Bebel (1st from right) and Adolf Hepner (2nd from right) as defendants in the Leipzig high treason trial

After the beginning of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, Liebknecht took a public position against this war, but on July 19, 1870, under the influence of Bebel, who warned him to be cautious, abstained with him in the Reichstag vote on a credit for the war against France. Both saw not only Bismarck's policies as directed against the interests of the workers, but also those of the French Emperor Napoleon III. On November 28 of the same year, they refused another war loan . Liebknecht and Bebel declared their solidarity with the Paris Commune in 1871 and spoke out against the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine .

Memorial plaque for August Bebel and Wilhelm Liebknecht at Hubertusburg Palace

Due to their rich critical exposures were both on 26 March 1872 at the Leipzig treason trial to two years imprisonment convicted of it in the Hubertusburg in Wermsdorf dismounted. Liebknecht and Bebel's opposition to the war and their internationalist orientation solidified the social democracy's reputation, launched by the government-loyal camp, as " patriotic companions ", which the SPD was supposed to cling to during the German Empire up to the First World War - and in nationalist - conservative , especially reactionary circles above out.

After his release from prison, Liebknecht was re-elected to the Reichstag of the German Empire (since 1871) after a three-year break in 1874 .

Merger of SDAP with ADAV to form SAP

Wilhelm Hasenclever (1837–1889), last president of the ADAV

In 1875 the SDAP merged with the ADAV in Gotha under its last president Wilhelm Hasenclever to form the Socialist Workers' Party of Germany (SAP). The unification of the previously competing social democratic parties became possible after the founding of the empire in 1871 and the political facts created with it, the main reasons for the rivalry, which essentially consisted of different views on the national question and on the attitude towards supremacy, had ceased to exist Prussia were located in the German states. In addition, the resignation of the anti-Marxist ADAV chairman Johann Baptist von Schweitzer, already in 1871 as a result of allegations of corruption and secret agreements with the government, paved the way for the two parties to come closer to each other and finally to unite them.

This merger of the "Eisenachers" with the "Lassalleans" was criticized by Karl Marx from London because of the adaptive attitude towards the more reform-oriented ADAV in the Gotha program of SAP (cf. Marx's criticism of the Gotha program ). Although Wilhelm Liebknecht was involved in drawing up the party program, which represented a compromise , he was able to share Marx's criticism in its essence, but for pragmatic reasons, for which he gave priority to the unity of the socialist movement, he nonetheless stood behind the merger of SDAP and ADAV, and ultimately defended the compromise for which he was jointly responsible. In the party newspaper Vorwärts , newly founded by Liebknecht and Hasenclever in 1876 , he later campaigned as one of the two equal editors-in-chief for the implementation of Marxist theory in the united party.

Socialist law

Dissolution of an assembly of socialists in Leipzig in 1881. Pictured among others: Wilhelm Liebknecht (standing, 2nd from left), August Bebel (sitting in front of Liebknecht), Wilhelm Hasenclever (sitting at the table, 2nd from right).

Reich Chancellor Otto von Bismarck classified the party as an "enemy of the Reich" from the start. After two unsuccessful assassinations of Kaiser Wilhelm I carried out within a few weeks in May / June 1878 , which Bismarck wrongly and against better knowledge accused of the Social Democrats, the latter enforced the Socialist Law in the Reichstag in mid-October 1878 ("Law against the Social Democracy's efforts that are dangerous to the public" ).

During the validity of the annually extended and only slightly modified repressive socialist law, the activities of the social democracy, its sub-organizations, publications and assemblies outside the Reichstag and the state parliaments were prohibited until 1890. In their strongholds, such as Berlin , Leipzig , Hamburg , Offenbach am Main or Frankfurt am Main , the so-called minor state of siege was temporarily imposed, which, for example, allowed socialist " agitators " to be expelled from the city. One of the most important SAP publications of that time, The Social Democrat , for which Liebknecht was a permanent employee, appeared under the editorship of Paul Singer from late 1879 to 1887, first in Zurich , then in London, and was illegally distributed throughout the Reich.

During the Socialist Act, Liebknecht was personally affected by the repressive measures despite his parliamentary status. In 1878 he was initially expelled from Berlin. After various prison sentences in 1878/79 and from May 1880 to June 1881, he was expelled from Leipzig, again from Berlin in 1884, and from Frankfurt am Main in 1887. In the course of such measures, Liebknecht and August Bebel moved to a suburban villa in Borsdorf near Leipzig in 1881 and had his main residence there until 1890.

Liebknecht (back row, center) as a member of the socialist parliamentary group from 1889.
Seated, from left: Georg Schumacher , Friedrich Harm , August Bebel , Heinrich Meister , Karl Frohme .
Standing: Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Dietz , August Kühn , Wilhelm Liebknecht, Karl Grillenberger , Paul Singer .

Despite the repression, the SAP grew into a mass party under Liebknecht and Bebel. Between 1881 and 1890 the number of votes of the Social Democrats who could continue to run as individuals in the Reichstag elections increased by more than 450% (from just under 312,000 votes to more than 1.4 million). Even the social legislation of the Reich Chancellor, which was modern for its time , with which he wanted to counteract this development by improving the social security of the workers, could not ultimately stop the trend towards solidarity among a broad electorate with the Social Democrats.

In the Reichstag, Liebknecht used his position as a member of parliament to sharply criticize Bismarck's government policy. Since he had no legal opportunity to appear in public outside the Reichstag in Germany at that time, and as many German Social Democrats had emigrated to neighboring countries as a result of the socialist laws, he traveled a lot and spoke at various socialist congresses , for example in France, the Switzerland, England and also in the USA .

After Karl Marx's death on March 17, 1883, Liebknecht was one of the twelve or so mourners present at his funeral in London's Highgate Cemetery . Marx himself had wanted “participation in the funeral to be limited to family and most intimate friends,” which was followed by his daughters Laura and Eleanor and by Friedrich Engels, who had inherited Marx's ideal.

During the time of the socialist laws, Wilhelm Liebknecht and Ludwig Büchner , with whom he had been friends since his student days, belonged to the founding members of the German Freethinkers ' Association in 1881 , which, in contrast to the free religious movement, clearly professed atheism and was predominantly "bourgeois". but where social democrats also had great weight. This resulted in several freethinker organizations , which after the First World War were mostly social-democratic and communist-oriented (see prehistory of the German Freethinkers Association ).

Foundation of the Socialist International

Liebknecht with Eleanor Marx , the youngest daughter of Karl Marx, who was also involved in the preparations for the establishment of the Second International, and Edward Aveling. Photograph from 1886 during the agitation trip to America, New York (detail).

After the split in the International Workers' Association in 1872 and its dissolution by 1876 due to the conflict between the anarchist wing around Mikhail Bakunin and the Marxist wing around Karl Marx, after Marx's death Liebknecht endeavored to achieve a new unity of the international labor movement . On this he agreed with Friedrich Engels, with whom Liebknecht was still in close contact.

When the Socialist International was founded in Paris in 1889, in which Liebknecht played a decisive role, the SAP had become the most influential socialist party in the world despite its oppression in its own country . Alone 85 participants in the founding congress of this Second International from July 14 to July 20, 1889, at which a total of around 400 delegates from 20 countries were gathered, were from the German Reich; among them besides August Bebel and Eduard Bernstein also Carl Legien as a representative of the German trade union movement, and with Clara Zetkin a - later better known - representative of the socialist women's movement , at that time an exile in Paris.

Liebknecht headed the German delegation and chaired the congress together with the French socialist Édouard Vaillant . It was among others in memory of the victims of the 1886 US Chicago violently suppressed strikes and workers' uprising (see. Haymarket Riot the introduction of) May Day decided as an "international day of struggle of the working class". Above all, the requirement / enforcement of the eight-hour working day for wage workers should be given greater and more powerful weighting.

Constitution of the SPD

In the Reichstag election in February 1890 , the Social Democrats became the party with the largest number of voters in the Reich with 19.7% of the vote, but only received 35 of the 391 Reichstag seats. Due to the majority voting system, reinforced by various disadvantages, for example in the allocation of constituencies, there were far fewer seats than they would have been given according to the principles of proportional representation .

After the dismissal of Bismarck as Chancellor by Kaiser Wilhelm II on March 20, 1890, the new government realized that the socialist laws had not weakened social democracy, but rather strengthened it. Under the new Chancellor Leo Graf von Caprivi , a new draft of the temporary socialist law was rejected. The SAP was reorganized at the party congress in Halle in 1890 and at the same time renamed the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), which has retained this name to this day - despite many programmatic changes since then.

The line of the new SPD in the Erfurt program of 1891, in its theoretical part designed by Karl Kautsky , initially again received a clearer Marxist orientation called for by Liebknecht, while the practical part written by Eduard Bernstein already indicated an adjustment to parliamentary conditions and possibilities.


As editor-in-chief of the party newspaper Vorwärts (re-established in 1891 after the ban between 1878 and 1890) and as a member of parliament, Liebknecht also appeared in the last decade of his life as a supporter of internationalist Marxism. From this stance, he vehemently criticized the German militarism dominated by Prussia in general, especially the armament of the Reich accelerated under Wilhelm II in conjunction with an expansive foreign policy - here the emperor's naval policy in particular: Liebknecht grasped the expansion of the imperial navy as a senseless prestige project of the monarch, which also represented a provocation for the dominant sea and world power Great Britain , and, from the point of view of the SPD at the time, conjured up the danger of an imperialist world war . Accordingly, Liebknecht also fought against colonialism and imperialism , which had been increasing since the mid-1880s, and rejected the establishment of the German colonies euphemistically designated as "protected areas" by the government, e . B. in Africa and the South Pacific .

Memorial plaque for Liebknecht in Berlin-Kreuzberg

In 1896, at the age of 70, Liebknecht was once again sentenced to four months' imprisonment for "lese majesty", which he served in Plötzensee prison. At the end of his life, “the old man” (as Liebknecht was called by many SPD members at the time with appreciative respect for his life's work) resolutely opposed the reformist tendencies emerging within the party, which had triggered the revisionism debate through a paper by Eduard Bernstein . In the treatise No Compromise - No Election Alliance , written in 1899, Liebknecht's last more extensive written work, which is also his political will , he justified his vehement rejection of the conformist tendencies among Bernstein and his supporters with a broad historical appeal.

Death and burial

Wilhelm Liebknecht, Social Democrat, editor-in-chief of "Vorwärts"
Wilhelm Liebknecht's grave at the Socialist Memorial , Berlin's Friedrichsfelde Central Cemetery (photo from March 2015). It was completed in 1902 by the Dresden sculptor Heinrich May. On the Bronze - bas-relief behind the bust Liebknecht, a cast iron industry and a female figure shake hands: an allegorical representation of the connection between the proletariat and science.

Wilhelm Liebknecht died after a stroke on August 7, 1900 at the age of 74 in Charlottenburg . Between 120,000 and 150,000 people - mostly workers and supporters of the SPD - took part in the funeral procession at his funeral in what has since been known as the “ socialist cemetery ” in what is now the Lichtenberg district of Berlin . Even more mourners lined the streets of Berlin as the train guarded. The funeral thus formed the background for the largest mass gathering in Berlin since the death of Kaiser Wilhelm I twelve years earlier. It was a homage to the “soldiers of the revolution”, when Liebknecht was viewed by many in memory of the revolution of 1848/49 - and at the same time a demonstration for his main goals: peace between peoples and the liberation of the working class.

Quote "knowledge is power"

The expression “ knowledge is power ”, which is still widely used today, was based on the English philosopher Francis Bacon of the 16th century , a saying by Wilhelm Liebknecht to a meeting of representatives of the workers' education associations in 1872. He had the concise sentence in a lecture “Knowledge is power - power is knowledge” was used as the title of a longer presentation.

Excerpt from the presentation:
“School is the most powerful means of liberation, and school is the most powerful means of servitude, according to the nature and purpose of the state. In the free state, school is a means of liberation; in the unfree state, school is a means of servitude. 'Education makes you free' - to demand of the unfree state that it educate the people means to commit suicide. In its essence, however, the modern class state conditions bondage. (...). He cannot need free men, only obedient subjects; not characters, only servant and slave souls. Since an 'intelligent' servant and slave is more useful than an unintelligent one - the Romans already placed special value on slaves who had learned something and paid appropriate prices for them - the modern state ensures a certain intelligence, namely servants - Intelligence that refines and perfects the human tool so that it can be better 'worked' with it. So the school becomes a dressage institute instead of an educational institute. Instead of educating people, it educates recruits who, on command, rush to the barracks, this man-machine factory; Taxpayers who do not bother to have their fur pulled over their ears; Wage slaves of capital who find it in order for the marrow to be sucked out of their bones. "
(Reference: Wilhelm Liebknecht: Knowledge is power - power is knowledge. )

These words - and with them the criticism of the school policy of the empire - are representative of a further essential concern of Liebknecht, educational work in an emancipatory sense; especially for the less privileged strata of the population: the poor, workers, their wives and children. Throughout his entire political career, he campaigned for equal opportunities in educational policy , in which knowledge should be made freely accessible to everyone, regardless of the interests of the state, and without financial expense.

The quote “Knowledge is power” can also be found on a plaque at Liebknecht's birthplace in Gießen, after its originally intended slogan “Agitate, organize, study” was not approved by the current tenant, the Hessischer Rundfunk , which has a regional branch there .

Post-history (1900-1920s)

Change in content and split in the SPD

After Wilhelm Liebknecht's death, a process of substantive change intensified in the SPD, which had already begun at the end of his life in the revisionism debate triggered by Eduard Bernstein. Under the continued leadership of August Bebel and Paul Singer (died 1911; replaced by Hugo Haase ), after the Reichstag elections in 1912, the SPD became the strongest parliamentary group in the German Reichstag with 34.8% and 110 members of parliament. Bebel could still have a balancing effect on the various wing of the party.

When, after Bebel's death in 1913, Friedrich Ebert took over the party leadership alongside Hugo Haase , the reformist parliamentary group began to oppose the revolutionary-Marxist wing around its protagonist Karl from August 1914 , reinforced by the beginning of the First World War and the war-approving truce policy of the SPD under Ebert's leadership Liebknecht, Rosa Luxemburg , Clara Zetkin and others. After the Second International, which Wilhelm Liebknecht co-founded, had disintegrated at the supranational level, this development led to the split of the SPD into the MSPD and the USPD during the war ; - a split that became irreversible after the November Revolution of 1918, shortly before the establishment of the Weimar Republic .

Role of Liebknecht's sons Karl and Theodor

Karl Liebknecht

Karl Liebknecht , a son of Wilhelm Liebknecht, who had been an SPD member of the Reichstag since 1912, was one of the few resolute opponents of the First World War in the Imperial Parliament from the outset, and - initially as the only member of the Reichstag - voted against the war credits from December 1914 after he the first vote on it was absent due to the party season. Because of this attitude he was expelled from the party in 1916. His public appearance at a speech at a banned anti-war demonstration in the same year led to an indictment of high treason and to his imprisonment until October 1918. On November 9, 1918, when the November Revolution reached Berlin, he called for Philipp Scheidemann's (SPD) proclamation the pluralistic-parliamentary “German republic” created a “free socialist republic” meant as a council republic , which however could not be enforced. At the turn of the year 1918/1919, Karl Liebknecht was one of the leaders of the left-wing revolutionary Spartakusbund and one of the founding members of the KPD.

Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg were hated by both the now ruling reform-oriented party leadership or - from the perspective of the left - the “revisionist” SPD and the anti-republican military During the 1919 Spartacus uprising, murdered on January 15, 1919 in Berlin by the right-wing nationalist Freikorps under the command of Waldemar Pabst and the political responsibility of the SPD Reichswehr Minister Gustav Noske .

Wilhelm Liebknecht's son Theodor entered party politics as a member of the USPD after the murder of his one year younger brother. In 1924 he became chairman of the USPD, which after 1922 was only a splinter party , crushed between the SPD and the KPD, and which in 1931 was absorbed into the newly founded, also marginalized New Socialist Workers' Party of Germany (SAPD).


(chronologically by date of publication)


  • The political position of social democracy. Leipzig 1869.
  • For defiance and protection. Leipzig 1871, 4th edition, Verlag der Genossenschaftsbuchdrucker, Leipzig 1874 digitized .
  • Knowledge is power - power is knowledge. Leipzig 1872. Digitized, edition 1891
  • The land question. Leipzig 1874, 2nd edition 1876; Cooperative printing house, 1874 digitized .
  • About the political position of social democracy, especially with reference to the Reichstag. A lecture given at a public meeting of the democratic workers' association in Berlin May 31, 1869. With a foreword and a tragicomic episode . Leipzig 1874. Digitized
  • On the oriental question or should Europe become Cossack? Höhme, Leipzig 1878. Digitized and full text in the German text archive , digitized
  • The Emser Depesche or how wars are made. Wörlein, Nuremberg 1891. Digitized
  • People's foreign dictionary. 4 volumes. Leipzig 1874 (23rd edition 1953).
  • Robert Blum and his time. Wörlein, Nuremberg 2nd edition 1890.
  • A look into the new world. JHW Dietz, Stuttgart 1887. Digitized
  • History of the French Revolution. Dresden 1890.
  • What the social democrats are and what they want. (Written in the mid-1970s) . Berlin 1891 digitized
  • Robert Owen . His life and socio-political work. Dresden 1892.
  • March 18 and related . Wörlein, Nuremberg 1893 digitized
  • Karl Marx in memory. Wörlein, Nuremberg 1896.
  • Group on party congress? In: The new time . Review of intellectual and public life . 16. Vol. 1897–98, Volume 1 (1898), Issue 9, pp. 260–269 Digitized
  • No compromise - no electoral alliance. Berlin 1899. ( online with links to the individual sections on marxists.org)

Works selection editions

  • Wilhelm Liebknecht. Knowledge is power - power is knowledge and other educational policy and pedagogical expressions. Ausgw., Included. u. ext. by Hans Brumme . People and Knowledge, Berlin 1968.
  • Georg Eckert (Ed.): Wilhelm Liebknecht. Editorials and articles in the Osnabrücker Zeitung 1864–1866 . Lax, Hildesheim 1975 ( Sources and studies on the general history of Lower Saxony in modern times , Volume 1; Publications of the Historical Commission for Lower Saxony and Bremen , Volume 35.1)
  • Wilhelm Liebknecht. Memories of a soldier of the revolution. Text collection, compiled and introduced by Heinrich Gemkow , illustrations by Günter Lerch. Dietz Verlag, Berlin 1976.
  • Wilhelm Liebknecht. Small political papers. Edited by Wolfgang Schröder. Leipzig 1976 ( Reclams Universal Library 644); Licensed edition: Röderberg-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1976 ( Röderberg-Taschenbuch , 42).
  • Utz Haltern: Liebknecht and England. On Wilhelm Liebknecht's journalism during his exile in London (1850–1862). Trier 1977 ( writings from the Karl-Marx-Haus , issue 18).
  • Wilhelm Liebknecht. Letters to the Chicago Workingman's Advocate. Ed. U. a. by Philip S. Foner. Dietz Verlag, Berlin 1981.
  • Wilhelm Liebknecht. Against militarism and the war of conquest. From writings and speeches. Dietz Verlag, Berlin 1986.


  • Victor Adler . Correspondence with August Bebel and Karl Kautsky as well as letters from and to Ignaz Auer , Eduard Bernstein , Adolf Braun , Heinrich Dietz , Friedrich Ebert , Wilhelm Liebknecht, Hermann Müller and Paul Singer . Collected u. ext. by Friedrich Adler . Edited by the executive committee of the Socialist Party of Austria. Verlag der Wiener Volksbuchhandlung, Vienna 1954.
  • Wilhelm Liebknecht. Correspondence with Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels . Ed. U. edit by Georg Eckert. Mouton, The Hague 1963. ( Sources and studies on the history of the German and Austrian labor movement 5)
  • Wilhelm Liebknecht. Correspondence with German Social Democrats. Part 1. 1862–1878 . Ed. U. edit by Georg Eckert. van Gorcum, Assen 1973. ( Sources and studies on the history of the German and Austrian labor movement. New series 4) ISBN 90-232-0858-7 .
  • Erich Kundel: On the history of the “ Anti-Dühring ”. Unpublished letters from Wilhelm Liebknecht and Hermann Ramm to Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. In: Marx-Engels-Jahrbuch. 2, Dietz Verlag, Berlin 1979, pp. 271-310.
  • Wilhelm Liebknecht. Correspondence with German Social Democrats. Part 2. 1878–1884 . Ed. U. edit by Götz Langkau. van Gorcum, Assen 1988. ( Sources and studies on social history 8) ISBN 90-232-0858-7 .


Chronologically by date of publication:


  • Kurt Eisner : Wilhelm Liebknecht. His life and work. Berlin 1900 (2nd edition 1906) - digitally available online
  • Paul Kampffmeyer : Wilhelm Liebknecht, the soldier of the revolution. Publishing house JHW Dietz, Berlin 1926.
  • Wolfgang Schröder : Liebknecht, Wilhelm Philipp Martin Christian Ludwig. In: History of the German labor movement. Biographical Lexicon . Dietz Verlag, Berlin 1970, pp. 293-298.
  • Vadim Tschubinski: Wilhelm Liebknecht. German translation of the biography from Russian. Dietz Verlag, Berlin 1973.
  • Friedrich Wilhelm Weitershaus: Wilhelm Liebknecht. A biography. For one hundred and fiftieth birthday . ( Communications from the Upper Hessian History Association. Volume 61). Gütersloh / Giessen 1976.
  • Gerhard Beier : Liebknecht, Wilhelm. In: Manfred Asendorf, Rolf von Bockel (eds.): Democratic ways. German résumés from five centuries . JB Metzler, Stuttgart / Weimar 1997, ISBN 3-476-01244-1 , pp. 390-391.
  • Wolfgang Schröder : Wilhelm Liebknecht. Soldier of the revolution, party leader, parliamentarian. Karl Dietz Verlag, Berlin 2013, ISBN 978-3-320-02289-1 .

Partial biographies

  • Karl-Heinz suffering : Wilhelm Liebknecht and August Bebel in the German labor movement 1862–1869. Verlag Rütten & Loenig, Berlin 1957.
  • 150 years of Wilhelm Liebknecht. March 29, 1826 - Giessen. Edited by the Wilhelm-Liebknecht-Gesellschaft Gießen, Verlag Marxistische Blätter, Frankfurt am Main 1976, ISBN 3-88012-425-6 .
  • Wolfgang Schröder: Wilhelm Liebknecht. Protagonists of the revolution from below. In: Gustav Seeber (Hrsg.): Gestalten der Bismarckzeit . Volume 1. Akademie Verlag, Berlin 1978, pp. 79-105.
  • Wolfgang Schröder: Ernestine. About the unusual life of Wilhelm Liebknecht's first wife. Verlag für die Frau, Leipzig 1987.
  • Bernd Faulenbach : The founding of an empire - fulfillment of the wishes of the nation or victory of the prince over the nation? Heinrich von Sybel and Wilhelm Liebknecht 1870/71. In: Dirk Bockermann u. a. (Ed.): Shaping freedom. On the understanding of democracy in German Protestantism. Göttingen 1996, pp. 97-106.
  • Werner Wendorff: School and education in politics by Wilhelm Liebknecht. Scientific publishing house Spiess, Berlin 1998.
  • Dieter Dowe : Agitate, organize, study! - Wilhelm Liebknecht and the early German social democracy - Lecture on the occasion of the commemorative event of the city of Gießen and the Upper Hessian History Association on the 100th anniversary of Wilhelm Liebknecht's death. Publication by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, Bonn 2000, ISBN 3-86077-942-7 ( online as a PDF file )
  • Wolfgang Beutin (Ed.): A society of freedom, equality, brotherhood - contributions to the conference on the 100th anniversary of Wilhelm Liebknecht's death on October 21 and 22, 2000 in Kiel. Verlag Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main 2000, ISBN 3-631-37711-8 .
  • Wolfgang Schröder: Wilhelm Liebknecht and Friedrich Ludwig Weidig. Personal marginalia on the relationship between democracy and socialism. In: Bourgeois Revolution and Revolutionary Left. Trafo-Verlag, Berlin 2000, ISBN 3-89626-199-1 , pp. 143-150.
  • Ewald Grothe : The ancestors of political resistance. On Wilhelm Liebknecht's role models and models. In: Georg Büchner Yearbook. 10 (2000-04), pp. 261-267.
  • Liebknecht, Wilhelm. In: Archive of Social Democracy. Inventory overview. 3rd, expanded edition. ed. v. Archive of Social Democracy of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, Bonn 2006, p. 254.


  • NN: The harvest of death. 50. Wilhelm Liebknecht , in: Deutscher Hausschatz, Volume 26, 1899/1900, No. 49, p. 920. With portrait.
  • Wilhelm Liebknecht. Revolutionary democrat and socialist (1826-1900). Scientific conference on the occasion of the hundredth anniversary of his death . (= Pankower Lectures 31), Helle Panke, Berlin 2001.


  • The invincible ; GDR 1953, 102 minutes, director: Arthur Pohl , with Erwin Geschonneck in the role of Wilhelm Liebknecht is a feature film about the development of social democracy at the end of the 1880s / beginning of the 1890s against the background of the fictional story of a locksmith who joined the SPD.
  • The Giessen Wilhelm Liebknecht Prize was first awarded in 1991.

See also

References and comments

  1. Valentin Hemberger: Gießener apprenticeship years, university rebel and emigration in disguise , second part of a four-part biographical treatise on Wilhelm Liebknecht in the Gießener Zeitung of September 23, 2009 (www.giessener-zeitung.de, accessed on June 5, 2015)
  2. ^ Helge Dvorak: Biographical Lexicon of the German Burschenschaft. Volume I: Politicians. Volume 3: I-L. Winter, Heidelberg 1999, ISBN 3-8253-0865-0 , pp. 289-290.
  3. ^ Wilhelm Liebknecht: In the teaching. Something from my life. In: Wilhelm Liebknecht: memories of a soldier of the revolution. Dietz, Berlin 1976, pp. 32-58.
  4. on Wilhelm Liebknecht's academic years In: Marburger UniJournal. No. 6, June 2000. On his political role models Jordan and Weidig: Ewald Grothe: Die ancestors of political resistance. On Wilhelm Liebknecht's role models and models. In: Georg Büchner Yearbook. 10 (2000-04), pp. 261-267.
  5. ^ Wilhelm Liebknecht: From the youth. In: Wilhelm Liebknecht: memories of a soldier of the revolution. Dietz, Berlin 1976, pp. 59-99.
  6. Karl Marx: Herr Vogt , Chapter III: Police , there Section 2: Murten Revolution Day , first published: London 1860 (online at mlwerke.de)
  7. Marx an Engels, 1859 (Marx / Engels Werke 29, p. 443)
  8. ^ Konstanze Wegener: Left liberalism in Wilhelmine Germany and in the Weimar Republic. A literature review. In: History and Society . 4 (1978), first page digitally available online
  9. Saxon Biography : Biography of Wilhelm Liebknecht; Family genealogical data on the left column
  10. ^ Institute for Marxism-Leninism at the Central Committee of the SED : History of the German Workers 'Movement , Volume 1, From the Beginnings of the German Workers' Movement to the End of the 19th Century, Author collective: Walter Ulbricht et al., Dietz Verlag Berlin 1966. Image part after p. 352.
  11. ^ Reports in the Prussian official press about the state of siege in Offenbach
  12. Their names live on through the centuries . Berlin 1983, p. 9 f.
  13. The Social Democrat . No. 14 of March 29, 1883. ( Their names live on through the centuries. Berlin 1983, p. 114.)
  14. Willhelm Liebknecht's paper No Compromise - No Election Alliance online in the Marxists Internet Archive (www.marxists.org/deutsch)
  15. This “title” of Wilhelm Liebknecht is traced back to a statement in his defense speech at the Leipzig high treason trial: “I am not a professional conspirator, not a traveling mercenary of conspiracy. For my part, call me a soldier of the revolution, I have nothing against that. ”Quoted from Wilhelm Liebknecht: Memories of a soldier of the revolution , Berlin: Dietz, 1976, p. 31.
  16. ↑ Ceremonial address given at the foundation festival of the Dresden Education Association on February 5, 1872. New edition Berlin 1904, pp. 24-25.

Web links

Commons : Wilhelm Liebknecht  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files
Literature / texts by Wilhelm Liebknecht
Biographies and Obituaries
This article was added to the list of excellent articles on December 21, 2005 in this version .