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Socialist Appeal, 4 April 1939

Karl Liebknecht

“The Main Enemy Is in Your Own Country!”

(May 1915)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 21, 4 April 1939, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Karl Liebknecht together with Rosa Luxemburg were leaders of the valiant band of revolutionary Internationalists in the German Spartakusbund. During the World War they fought against the capitalist slaughter and tried to organize the working class for socialist revolution. They were murdered by Noske and Scheidemann, former socialists who had turned traitor to the workers and supported the German capitalist class during the war. It was Karl Liebknecht who penned the immortal phrase “The main enemy is in your own country!”

* * *

But to learn and not forget applies also, and above all, to the heroic struggle against the war which our Italian comrades waged and are still waging. They fight with their press, with meetings, with street corner gatherings. They fight with revolutionary strength and courage, opposing their bodies and their lives to the raging impact of the waves of nationalism whipped up by the government. Their struggle is worthy of our enthusiastic felicitations. Let their spirit be our model. May it become the pattern for the International ...

The absurd watchword, “see it through,” was disastrous; it can lead only deeper into the maelstrom of destruction. International proletarian class struggle against the international imperialist mangling of the people is the command of the hour.

The main enemy of the German people is in Germany: German imperialism, the German war party, German secret diplomacy. The German people must wage a political struggle against this enemy in its own country, in conjunction with the struggle of the proletarians of other countries against their own imperialists ...

The enemies of the working class rely upon the forgetfulness of the masses; take heed, that their reliance may be groundless! They speculate on the forbearance of the masses – but we raise the stormy cry:

How much longer are the imperialist gamblers going to abuse the patience of the people? Enough of butchery! Down with the war-mongers on both sides of the border!

The slaughter of the people must end!

Proletarians of all countries! Follow the heroic example of your Italian brothers! Unite for the international class war against the conspiracy of secret diplomacy, against imperialism, against the war, for a socialist peace!

The main enemy is in your own country!

(From a leaflet issued on the occasion of Italy’s entrance into the World War in 1915)

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