The Call

Manifesto of the German Spartacists

Source: The Call, January 30, 1919, p. 3 (1,223 words)
Transcription: Ted Crawford
HTML Markup: Brian Reid
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2007). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

The following manifesto is not only of intrinsic historical value out will be particularly interesting to our readers as being one of the last things signed by our heroic comrades, Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht.

“Revolution has broken out in Germany. The masses have risen; the soldiers, who in four years had been driven to butchery by the capitalist profiteers, and the workers, who have been exploited, oppressed, and starved. That terrible instrument of oppression, that scourge of humanity which constituted Prussian militarism, has been hurled to the ground; its most conspicuous representatives and consequently those most responsible for the war, the Kaiser and the Crown Prince, have fled the country. Workers’ and Soldiers’ Councils have been formed, every where.

“Workers of all countries ! We do not say that in Germany all power is now effectively in the hands of the working people, that the proletarian revolution has already gained a complete victory. All those Socialists who in August, 1914, abandoned our most precious possession, who for four years have betrayed both the German working class and the international still occupy seats in the government. But at this moment, workers of all countries, it is the German working class itself that addresses you. We think we have the right to present ourselves to you in their name. From the first days of this war we endeavoured to fulfil our international duties by combating with all our force this criminal government and exposing it as the real criminals of this war.

“Now we are justified before history, before the International, before the German workers. The masses approved our policy with enthusiasm and larger and larger sections are recognising that the hour for settling accounts with the dominant capitalist class has struck. But the German working class cannot carry this great work to a successful conclusion by itself. It can only struggle and, conquer by calling upon the solidarity of the workers of the whole world.

“Comrades of the belligerent countries! We recognise your situation. We know very well that just now your governments, having achieved victory, are largely dazzling the popular mind by the apparent splendour and glory of victory. We know that on account of these military successes they are able to make people forget the causes and purposes of this assassination. But we also know another thing. The blood and bones of your working class has been sacrificed terribly. The workers are tired of this horrible carnage; they are now returning to their hearths and homes, where they only find poverty and misery, whereas fortunes of milliards have accumulated in the hands of certain capitalists. The working class understands that the war was carried on also by your Governments in the interests of the money bags. And it also recognises that your Governments, just as ours, when they speak of the ‘rights of civilisation,’ the ‘defence of small nations,’ have in view only the benefit of the capitalist class. The proletariat of your country will understand that the peace of so called ‘right’ of the ‘society of nations’ leads to the same vile and base rapacity as the peace of Brest-Litovsk. Here, as there, the same shameless greed, the same readiness to oppress, the same determination to exploit to the utmost limit the brutal preponderance of murderous weapons. The imperialism of all countries knows not the meaning of conciliation. It knows but one right—the profits of the capitalist class; but one language—the sword; but one means—violence. And when they talk now in your country, as in ours, of ‘a league of nations,’ of ‘disarmament,’ of the ‘rights of small nations,’ of the ‘liberty of peoples to dispose of themselves’, these are only the habitual lying phrases of the dominant class—useful as a soporific for the vigilance of the proletariat.

“Workers of all countries! This war must be the last. We owe it to the 12,000,000 of assassinated victims, to our children, to humanity,”

The manifesto then points to the terrible sufferings and ruination of Europe engendered by the war and to the fact that the dominant class is incapable of bringing about real peace or of assuring to the tortured peoples work, food, rights, and freedom. Only Socialism can accomplish this. Socialism, alone can heal the wounds caused by the war and substitute fraternal solidarity for the present day hatreds and discord. The manifesto then continues:—

“If the representatives of the working class were to stretch forth their hands to conclude peace beneath the banner of Socialism, it would be concluded in a few hours. There would then be no divergencies regarding the Left Bank of the Rhine, nor about Mesopotamia, Egypt, or the colonies. There would be but one people the working humanity of all races and all tongues. There would then be only one right—the equality of all men. There would only be one aim—the prosperity and progress of all. Humanity is faced by the alternatives—dissolution into capitalist anarchy or renaissance by social revolution. The hour for decision has struck. If you believe in Socialism it is time to prove it by acts ....

“Workers of all countries! If we call on you now to a common struggle it is not in the interests of the German capitalists, who, under the designation of the ‘German nation,’ seek to escape the consequences of their crimes: We only so in our interest as in yours. Reflect! Your victorious capitalists are ready to repress in blood our revolution, which they are as much afraid of as your own. You, yourselves, have no more freedom as a result of ‘victory.’ It has but riveted your chains. If your governing classes succeed in strangling the proletarian revolution in Germany as in Russia, they will then turn against you with double fury. Your capitalists hope that victory over us and over revolutionary Russia will enable them to chastise you and to establish on the grave of Socialism a millenium Empire of Exploitation. That is why we cry to you—‘Forward to the struggle! forward to action!’ The time for empty manifestations, platonic resolutions, and sonorous words has passed. The hour for action has struck for the International. We call on you to elect everywhere Workers’ and Soldiers’ Councils which will take political power into their own hands and, acting all together, will establish peace.

Neither Lloyd George nor Poincaré, neither Sonnino, Wilson, Erzberger, nor Scheidemann should conclude peace. Only beneath the triumphant flag of the Socialist world revolution should peace be made.

“Workers of all countries! We call on you to carry out the work of Socialist liberation, to restore to violated humanity a human shape, and to realise the phrase with which we formerly often greeted and parted from one another—The International will save the human race!



Liebknecht’s Family.
According to the “Frankfurter Zeitung,” Liebknecht’s wife and her youngest son, a boy of thirteen, were arrested at their house on January 13th. His eldest son was arrested when the “Vorwärts” building was retaken by the Government troops.

According to the “Vossische Zeitung” Kautsky was arrested recently on suspicion of having had political relations with Rosa Luxemburg. After a brief interrogation he was liberated.