“Yes. The revolutionary workers of Berlin have been defeated. Yes. Hundreds of their best have been slaughtered. Yes. Many hundreds more have been thrown into dungeons. Yes. They were defeated because they had been abandoned by the ones they relied on: the sailors, the soldiers, the security forces, the people’s militia. Their power was inhibited by the indecision and the weakness of their leaders. They drowned in the counterrevolutionary sea of mud where the uneducated sections of the population unite with the ruling classes.
Yes, they were defeated. It was a defeat that followed the law of history. The time was not ripe for victory yet. And still, the struggle was inevitable. It would have been disgraceful to surrender the police headquarters, this palladium of the revolution, to Ernst, Hirsch, and their cohorts without a fight. The struggle was forced upon the proletariat by Ebert and his gang, and the masses of Berlin responded instinctively, despite all doubts and concerns.
Yes, the revolutionary workers of Berlin were defeated. Ebert, Scheidemann, and Noske won. They won because the generals, the bureaucrats, the Junkers, the priests, the moneybags, and everyone with a narrow mind and empty heart supported them, assuring their victory with cannons, bombs, and mines. However, there are defeats that are victories, and victories that are more deadly than defeats.
Those who were defeated during the bloody week of January can be proud. They fought for something big, for the noblest goal of the agonizing masses. They have spilled blood for a sacred cause, and their blood has been sanctified. From every drop of it avengers will emerge; from every frazzled fiber new fighters for the mighty cause will grow, a cause as eternal and unfading as the firmament.
Spartacus stands for the fire and the spirit, the soul and the heart, the will and the deed of the proletariat revolution. Spartacus stands for all the misery, longing, and determination of the class conscious proletariat. Spartacus stands for socialism and world revolution.
The Via Dolorosa of the German proletariat has not been completed yet. But the day of salvation, the Judgement Day for Ebert, Scheidemann, Noske, and the capitalist rulers who still hide behind them is near. We are caught in events that resemble enormous waves, taking us up and down. We are used to being thrown from the mountaintop into the abyss. But our ship follows its course undeterred and proud until it will reach its final port. Will we still be alive when this happens? Our program will be. Its principles will guide humankind to salvation. Despite it all!
The clatter of the imminent economic collapse will awake the sections of the proletariat that are still asleep. They will hear the trumpets of Judgment Day, and the corpses of the murdered fighters will rise from the dead to demand justice from the cursed traitors of the revolution. Today, the volcano is still rumbling underground – tomorrow it will erupt and bury them all in ashes and lava!”
– Karl Liebknecht, “Despite It All!” Published as “Trotz alledem!” in Die Rote Fahne, no. 15, January 15, 1919.
3 thoughts on “Karl Liebknecht on the Spartacist Uprising”