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The Letters of Rosa Luxemburg

Letters from the heroic German revolutionary to her comrades, friends and lovers.
This is the most comprehensive collection of letters by Rosa Luxemburg ever published in English, including 190 letters written to leading figures in the European and international labor and socialist movements––Leo Jogiches, Karl Kautsky, Clara Zetkin and Karl Liebknecht––who were her closest friends, lovers and colleagues. Many of these letters appear for the first time in English translation; all help to illuminate the inner life of this iconic revolutionary, who was at once an economic and social theorist, a political activist and a lyrical stylist. Her political concerns are revealed alongside her personal struggles within a socialist movement that was often hostile to independently minded women. This collection will provide readers with a newer and deeper appreciation of Luxemburg as a writer and historical figure.


  • “One cannot read the writings of Rosa Luxemburg, even at this distance, without an acute yet mournful awareness of what Perry Anderson once termed 'the history of possibility.'”
  • “She emerges as one of the most emotionally intelligent socialists in modern history, a radical of luminous dimension whose intellect is informed by sensibility, and whose largeness of spirit places her in the company of the truly impressive.”
  • “[W]onderful ... The self-portrait in these pages is that of a professional revolutionary whose vocation is, if you'll pardon the expression, spiritual. Reading ... this book, I could not help falling in love with you, dear Rosa.”
  • “George Shriver's new translation of The Letters of Rosa Luxemburg is the most comprehensive collection of her correspondence yet to appear in English. It transports us directly into the private world of a woman who has never lost her inspirational power as an original thinker and courageous activist … [and] reveals that the woman behind the mythic figure was also a compassionate, teasing, witty human being.”
  • “Paced almost like a novel, the 28 years covered by this collection pass by almost too quickly.”
  • The Letters of Rosa Luxemburg come as near as anything to the way this extraordinary woman talked with loved ones and friend ... a wonderfully compelling record, both poignant and timely.”
  • “[Rosa] Luxemburg expressed unfailing passion in her letters ... This volume gives personal insight into a remarkable (and controversial) woman and adds meaningful context to any study of early Western socialism.”
  • “Useful and exciting.”
  • “Fascinating ... these passionate letters, which commemorate the 140th anniversary of Luxemburg’s birth, show the living, breathing and loving woman behind the legend of 'Red Rosa.'”
  • “[Rosa Luxemburg's] letters, with all their exquisite details, read as well as any novel ... Personal or political [they] are beautiful, powerful, and succinct.”
  • The Letters of Rosa Luxemburg is a ... kind of memorial, a kind of sliver of one woman’s life bound together in one place ... Rosa Luxemburg comes alive in these pages ... if you love or admire or are just fascinated by [her], then you’ve no excuse not to buy this excellent book.”
  • “This English-language edition of selected letters of Polish-born Marxist thinker and founder of the German Communist Party, Rosa Luxemburg, who was assassinated in 1919, is the most comprehensive published in English, with over two-thirds of the letters translated here for the first time.”
  • The Letters of Rosa Luxemburg includes everything from Luxemberg’s youthful mash notes to her theoretical arguments, as well as her uncanny prediction of 'pogroms against Jews in Germany.'”
  • “A welcome contribution to a renewed interest in this key figure of the Marxist tradition.”
  • “Verso is once again to be congratulated for this publishing inititiative, in an excellent translation by George Shriver ... [The letters] give a unique insight into her character, her deep humanity as well as her passionate commitment to the struggle for socialism.”
  • “Rosa goes on being our source of fresh water in thirsty times.”
  • “Intrepid, incorruptible, passionate and gentle. Imagine as you read between the lines of what she wrote, the expression of her eyes. She loved workers and birds. She danced with a limp. Everything about her fascinates and rings true. One of the immortals.”
  • “This huge project is long overdue. Luxemburg's correspondence reveals an extraordinary range and breadth of concerns and interests”
  • “[Luxemburg's letters] are extremely well written, elegant in their use of language as well as exciting in their expression of ideas. The letters within this thick volume show indeed how much we have lost our ability to communicate with the decline of letter-writing ... taking the time to actually correspond (as Luxemburg did throughout her life), to actually compose a letter, produces art as well as communication. And that is at the heart of The Letters of Rosa Luxemburg, that is precisely what makes this book so absorbing and so pleasurable to read.”
  • “Provides valuable insights into the personal development of this great revolutionary.”


  • Women against inequality: A Verso reading list for International Women's Day

    "What is 'Women's Day'? Is it really necessary?" Alexandra Kollontai asked readers of the Russian journal Pravda a centenary ago. "On Women's Day," she wrote, "the organised demonstrate against their lack of rights."

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  • Happy Birthday Rosa Luxemburg!

    Rosa Luxemburg [1871-1919], the Polish-born revolutionary and writer, was one of the most original theoretical minds of the early twentieth century. Her work stands as a testament to the great social of upheavals of the time and a life lived in struggle for a better world. She ultimately suffered for her convictions, spending time in jail between 1904 and 1906 and again for three and a half years for opposing the First World War, before her brutal and untimely death in 1919 at the hands of the proto-fascistic Freikorp. To mark her birthday, we have an extract from The Letters of Rosa Luxemburg that shows her characteristic mix of astute political and social analysis and incredible compassion for her fellow creatures. The letter, written around Christmas 1917 from her prison cell in Breslau to fellow SPD-member Sophie Liebknecht, relates an incident in the prison courtyard between a guard and a buffalo carrying piles of torn and bloodied clothes sent from the frontlines. 

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  • 'Future victories will spring from this “defeat”'—Rosa Luxemburg before her death on this day, 1919

    Rosa Luxemburg was tortured and executed on this day 96 years ago, on January 15 1919.
    The last letter contained in The Letters of Rosa Luxemburg is dated January 11 1919, following the crushed Spartacist Uprising, and is reproduced in full below. In her last known piece of writing, 'Order prevails in Berlin', Luxemburg writes about the reasons contributing to the failure of the rebellion and the future of the movement:

    A new leadership can and must be created by the masses and from the masses. The masses are the crucial factor. They are the rock on which the ultimate victory of the revolution will be built. The masses were up to the challenge, and out of this “defeat” they have forged a link in the chain of historic defeats, which is the pride and strength of international socialism. That is why future victories will spring from this “defeat.”

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Other books by Rosa Luxemburg Edited by Georg Adler, Peter Hudis, and Annelies Laschitza Translated by George Shriver