W. Liebknecht

Statement on Armenia


Written: 11 November 1896.
Published: Vorwärts, 11 November 1896.
Transcribed by: Ted Crawford.
Translated from German by: Ian Birchall.
Markup: H. Antonn.

Note: The following article, together with others involving Bernstein, Kautsky, Wilhelm Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg appears courtesy of the editorial Board of Revolutionary History in The Balkan Socialist Tradition, Revolutionary History Vol.8 no.3, 2003. For a full discussion of these articles in their context see the relevant volume of Revolutionary History.



In one of the recent Party meetings, among other criticisms which are not relevant here, I was accused of not representing the socialist point of view on the Armenian question, and of having rejected a longish article which put this point of view. I did indeed reject this questionable article, which was submitted by Miss Rosa Luxemburg, and precisely because the authoress did not inform her judgement on matters in Armenia on the basis of her own observation and knowledge, but merely arranged the well-known assertions of the Russian and Gladstonian press in a socialist pattern. That could have been done by any comrade here in Germany who takes pleasure in making such patterns. That the Armenian insurrection was connected with economic conditions, that should be clear to the youngest elementary pupil of socialism — but even the predatory wars of the most backward African tribes can be reduced to economic causes. If Miss Luxemburg had brought forward new facts and really shed light on the Armenian-Turkish events, then I would have gladly published the article, despite its deviant position. I should never dream of wanting to put forward my interpretation of the Eastern Question as the only correct one. However, when I was in England during the Crimean War, I concerned myself exhaustively with the Eastern Question, and in association with Karl Marx and in the school of the brilliant David Urquhart, the best expert on Turkish conditions and Russian diplomacy, I came to the interpretation of the Eastern Question which I have put forward ever since, and the correctness of which is confirmed by the development of events day by day.

As I have already intimated in Vorwärts, there is a prospect that the classical articles and pamphlets, which Marx wrote in English in the 1850s about Lord Palmerston and the Eastern Question will be collected and made accessible to German readers in translation.[1]

Of course I sympathise with all oppressed people, classes and nations. But the Turks, against whom a war of extermination is being waged by the Russian side, have the same ‘human rights’ to existence and life as the Armenians and other peoples. And for anyone who allows reason as well as emotion to command his politics, and who took into consideration all the factors involved, the fact is established that any rising in Turkey in the present state of affairs — for a socialist movement in Armenia at present is only castles in the air — can only benefit the Russian Tsarist policy of conquest. Miss Rosa Luxemburg, who is a Polish woman, would perhaps find a more fertile field if she concerned herself with the Russian atrocities in Poland and in Russia itself. Then she would not run the danger of doing an involuntary service to the ‘protector of European absolutism’.

[1] Lord Palmerston (1784-1865) was the British Prime Minister whom Marx attacked for his allegedly pro-Russian policies. Besides The Eastern Question collection of 1897, it is perhaps no accident that Eleanor Marx also edited two other works by Karl Marx dealing with the Russian question, The Story of the Life of Lord Palmerston and Secret Diplomatic History of the Eighteenth Century, which appeared in 1899 after her death.


Last updated on 9.2.2005