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Rosa Luxemburg to Sophie Liebknecht

Wronke, May 2 1917

An excerpt from this letter can be listened to here.

… What am I reading? Mainly scientific books: plant geography and animal geography. Yesterday I was reading about why songbirds are disappearing in Germany:  it is the spread of efficient forestry, horticulture and crop farming methods  that is to blame. They are gradually destroying all the natural nesting and feeding habitats: hollow trees, wasteland, scrub and dead leaves in gardens. I was so very sad when I read that. Not because of the loss of birdsong for people, but  because of the image of the silent, unstoppable decline of these defenceless little creatures. It pained me so much that I wept. It reminded me of a Russian book by Professor Sieber about the decline of the redskins in North America, which I read back in Zurich: they, too, are being gradually driven off their land by civilised man and abandoned to a silent, horrible fate.

But I think I must be ill for everything to affect me so deeply. Do you know, sometimes I have the feeling that I am not a real human being, but some kind of bird, or another animal in human form.  Inside, I feel far more at home in a little scrap of garden like this, or in a field among bumblebees and grass than at a party conference. I know I can say all this to you: you will not immediately accuse me of betraying the socialist cause. You know I hope to die on duty, anyway: in a street riot or in jail. But my innermost self belongs more to my garden birds than to my ›comrades‹.

Translation: Ros Mendy and Lyam Bittar for lingua∙trans∙fair


Rosa Luxemburg an Sophie Liebknecht, in: Gesammelte Briefe, Vol. 5, Berlin 1984, pp. 227230.