• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Rosa Luxemburg's body likely found 90 years after murder

The Local · 29 May 2009, 17:05

Published: 29 May 2009 17:05 GMT+02:00

The head of forensic medicine, Michael Tsokos, told the magazine that a decapitated body without hands and feet – in possession of the hospital for almost nine decades – is likely the remains of the iconic left-wing leader.

The body shows “astounding similarities with the real Rosa Luxemburg,” he said.

CT scans of the corpse revealed that the woman was between 40-50 years of age when she died, and suffered from osteoarthritis and leg length asymmetry.

Rosa Luxemburg was 47 when she was murdered, suffered from a congenital hip dislocation and had one leg longer than the other as a result.

Tsokos told the magazine he doubts that the true Luxemburg was ever buried, substantiating his claim by outlining the numerous inconsistencies he uncovered in her autopsy report conducted in June 1919.

Tsokos’ predecessors examined a corpse that was buried as Rosa Luxemburg on June 13, 1919 in Berlin’s Freidrichsfelde cemetery, but he said records show this corpse did not bear her significant anatomical characteristics.

According to Der Spiegel, the coroners at that time explicitly established that the corpse they investigated had neither a hip defect nor legs of differing lengths. They also failed to find definitive evidence of rifle butt blows to the cranium or a gunshot wound – though Luxemburg is said to have been beaten to the ground with a rifle and then killed by a shot to the head.

“We hope that the identity of the body is clarified as soon as possible so that whoever it may be will finally be laid to rest,” Murat Çakir, spokesperson for The Left party's political think tank named after Rosa Luxemburg, told The Local on Friday

He added that the organisation had been deeply disturbed by the revelation. “It’s conceivable that the authorities at the time made sure this would disappear, but it’s also disturbing that her body could have been in a hospital cellar for the last 90 years,” he said.

Born on March 5, 1871, Rosa Luxemburg was a Polish Jew. She was also a co-founder of the Social Democratic Party in Poland and Lithuania. Along with Karl Liebknecht, Luxemburg was instrumental in founding Germany’s communist party in 1918.

As left-wing activists moved towards revolution in early 1919, Luxemburg and Liebknecht were both murdered by soldiers from the right-wing Freikorps on January 15 of that same year. Luxemburg’s body was not found until four months later on May 31 in the Landwehrkanal, a canal parallel to Berlin’s Spree River.

“The world over she is thought of as a revolutionary and a forward thinker – millions visit her grave each year – and she will always be this, regardless of where her body rests,” Çakir told The Local, adding that the government should support a speedy clarification of the corpse’s identity.

Story continues below…

But forensic doctor Tsokos told news agency DDP he lacks DNA samples to conduct the necessary tests.

“A hat would be nice,” he said, adding that hair left behind could clear up the mystery.

According to Tsokos, rumours that the hospital was in possession of Luxemburg’s body have been circulating for years, and he himself has been searching for her DNA for two years – even testing stamps from her letters in search of saliva traces, DDP reported.

But Luxemburg apparently used water to place her stamps, forcing Tsokos to continue his search for DNA on her personal effects.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
This Week in History
75 years since one of Holocaust's worst massacres
Photo: DPA

On Thursday, German president Joachim Gauck spoke in Kiev 75 years after the Nazis slaughtered 33,771 Jews during one of the worst single massacres of the Holocaust.

Six things you need to know about troubled Deutsche Bank

Shares in Deutsche bank plunged on Friday morning, dragging down other European banks and markets worldwide. Here are six things to know about Germany's biggest lender.

Deutsche Bahn jacks up prices for first time in 3 years
Photo: DPA

Germany's main rail provider, the state-owned Deutsche Bahn (DB), announced on Friday that it will raise prices on long-distance train travel.

Baby found alive in suitcase with skeleton in Hanover
File photo: DPA.

A baby has been found alive, along with the skeleton of another infant inside of a suitcase in Hanover, police reported on Friday.

Morocco to speed up repatriation of illegal migrants
Photo: DPA

Morocco has agreed to streamline the procedures for the repatriation of citizens living illegally in Germany, the royal court said late on Thursday.

890,000 refugees arrived in Germany last year - not 1.1m
Photo: DPA

Previous reports had suggested that around 1.1 million people entered Germany to seek asylum last year. But now the German government has confirmed the number was actually lower.

Racist attacks cast cloud over Dresden Unity Day planning
A police vehicle in Dresden. Photo: DPA.

As Dresden prepares to host Germany’s national Unity Day celebrations on Monday, the capital of the eastern state of Saxony is upping security after a mosque was targeted by a homemade bomb.

Sinking Deutsche Bank stock sends shock across Europe
Photo: DPA

Shares in Germany's biggest lender Deutsche Bank plummeted on the Frankfurt stock market on Friday, dragging other European banks and global markets down with it, after reports some customers were pulling money out.

The Local List
10 things you never knew about German reunification
Reunification celebrations in Hanover in 2014. Photo: DPA

With German Unity Day (October 3rd) happening on Monday, Germans are looking forward to a three-day weekend. But did you know these facts about reunification and German Unity Day?

Munich pharmacy’s nighttime porno show draws crowd
Photo: DPA

When a police patrol in Munich's Sendlinger Tor area noticed a crowd gathered outside a pharmacy window they went to investigate. But the onlookers weren't interested in a new line of flu medicine.

Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Lifestyle
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
Lifestyle
10 German films you have to watch before you die
Lifestyle
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
Lifestyle
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
National
Seven great reasons to stay in Germany this September
National
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
National
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
National
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
Culture
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Rhineland
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Culture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
Lifestyle
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
Gallery
Germany's 17 Olympic gold medals in pictures
14 facts you never knew about the Brandenburg Gate
Society
Ten times Germans proved they really, really love beer
National
Six things you need to know when moving to Germany
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
International
German scientists prove birds can sleep while flying
Technology
London v. Berlin: Which is better for startups?
Lifestyle
13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
6,582
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd