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Rosa Luxemburg to Mathilde Wurm

Wronke, December 28 1916

An excerpt from this letter can be listened to here.

My  dearest Tilde!

I want to answer your Christmas letter immediately, while the rage it stirred up in me is still fresh. Yes, your letter made me wild with anger because every line in it, brief as it is, shows how very much you are once again under the spell of your milieu.

You suppose, in your melancholy way, that you are all ›not daring enough‹ for my taste. ›Not enough‹ is good! You, none of you, dare even to walk. You creep. It is not a difference of degree, but of substance. In general, ›you lot‹ are a completely different zoological species from me, and your crabby, grumpy, cowardly, half-hearted way of being has never been so foreign and so hateful to me as it is now. You say your lot would be up for daring action, but that one merely gets ›locked up‹ for it, and is then ›of little benefit‹. Oh, you miserable petty souls, who would be ready to offer up a bit of ›heroism‹, but only for cash, even if it is only three mouldy copper pennies, because you first have to see ›some benefit‹ on the counter. The simple statement of honest, upright people, »Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God,« was never spoken about you lot. It is lucky that world history up to now was not made by people like you, because otherwise we would have had no Reformation and would probably still be stuck with the ancien régime. As for me, in recent times I, who certainly was never soft, have become as hard as polished steel and from now on will not make even the slightest concession, either politically or in my personal dealings. … I swear to you: I would rather be stuck in prison—I won’t say here, which is like heaven after everything else, but rather in the hole on Alexanderplatz where, in my 11 m2 cell, without light morning and evening, wedged between the C (without W) and the iron bunk, I would recite my Mörike aloud—I would rather be stuck there for years than ›fight‹, if I can use that term, beside your heroes, or have anything at all to do with them! Indeed I would rather deal with Count Westarp—and not because he mentioned my ›almond-shaped velvet eyes‹ in the Reichstag, but because he is a man.

Revised by Ros Mendy


The Letters of Rosa Luxemburg. Translated by George Shriver. Edited by Georg Adler, Peter Hudis and Annelies Laschitza. London: Verso. 2011. pp. 362–364.