Rosa Luxemburg

On this date in 1871, Rosa Luxemburg was born in Zamość, Poland, to a middle-class Jewish family. A revolutionary agitator by her teens, she moved to Switzerland, in part to avoid possible imprisonment. She studied at the University of Zurich, receiving her doctorate in 1898. From Warsaw, Luxemburg tried to help the Russian revolution. She wrote more than 700 pamphlets, articles, speeches and books, advocating mass strikes by proletariats.

She was in and out of prison, once for advocating during World War I that German soldiers turn their guns on the government and overthrow it. In 1919 she and two leaders of the German Communist Party, which Luxemburg helped found, were arrested. She was knocked out, shot to death and thrown in a canal. She was 47.

Although socialism, not freethought, was her life’s passion, she wrote the article “Socialism and the Churches” in 1905, first published by the Polish Social Democratic Party. Luxemburg, who strongly believed in freedom of conscience, sought to show that the church, originally considered a refuge for workers, was now clearly oppressing them. D. 1919.

Freedom From Religion Foundation