1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Liebknecht, Karl

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

LIEBKNECHT, KARL (1871-1919), German Socialist and revolutionary leader, was the son of Wilhelm Liebknecht (see 16.592). He was born in Aug. 1871 at Leipzig. In 1899 he qualified as a lawyer, and speedily became a prominent agitator on the extreme Left wing of the Socialist party. In 1907 he was sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment for high treason. In the following year he was elected a member of the Prussian Chamber of Deputies; in 1912 he also became a member of the Reichstag, and on the outbreak of the World War he distinguished himself by the violent opposition which he offered to the policy of the Government and the successive votes of credit. Liebknecht was then expelled from the Social Democratic party and founded a faction of his own, which he called “die Sozialdemokratische Arbeitsgemeinschaft.” In 1916 he was once more arrested on a charge of high treason brought against him by the military authorities and was sentenced to four years' penal servitude. On the eve of the revolution in Oct. 1918 he was reprieved, and, on his release, at once put himself at the head of the Spartacists, the extreme revolutionary section in sympathy with Russian Bolshevism. He was once more arrested during the Spartacist insurrection in Jan. 1919, for which he was largely responsible. While he was being conveyed in a motor-car from the Government military headquarters in the west end of Berlin to the prison at Moabit he was shot down by his military escort while, as was subsequently alleged, he was attempting escape. His death, as well as that of his associate, Rosa Luxemburg, who perished on the same night at the hands of the soldiers or the mob, was constantly made a subject of reproach to the Government Socialists by the extreme Communist party.