Thousands commemorate the murdered communists Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. Thematically, it is about much more.
Traditional banner of the Liebknecht/Luxemburg demo Photo: Christian Mang
Only the weather does not adhere to tradition. Unseasonably mild and sunny, this second Sunday in January shows up at Frankfurter Tor in the morning. But otherwise, as usual, a sea of red flags lines the Frankfurter Allee, lined up behind the front banner that has remained unchanged for at least twenty years and fills the entire width of the three-lane street: "Luxemburg, Liebknecht, Lenin. No one is forgotten. Stand up and resist!"
More punctually than anywhere else on the left, the memorial demonstration for the communists Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, who were murdered in 1919, starts moving shortly after 10 am. 101 years after the revolutionaries were shot by right-wing Freikorps soldiers with the approval of Reichswehr Minister Gustav Noske (SPD), there are about 4,000 people marching to the memorial site of the socialists in Friedrichsfelde. Communist and Marxist Leninist Party, Antifa groups, Kurds, Iranians – each for himself and yet together. More people renounce the "biggest demo for socialism in Europe", as one speaker trumpets, and go directly to the cemetery.
At the starting point, an elderly man in a red and blue knitted cap distributes flyers against the "Defender 2020 war maneuver," a NATO exercise with 37,000 soldiers planned for the spring on the Russian border. While the "danger of a direct confrontation" arises here, hope comes from Iran: There, the "masses of people and the working class are fighting against the regime," it sounds from the loudspeaker truck. From a youth-dominated block behind them, the cry resounds: "The GDR was our state. All power to the proletariat."
A few meters ahead, a flyer distributor fails with his double-sided lead desert "Against the Current," calling for "solidarity with the armed fighting Kurdish liberation movement in Rojava," against grim-faced young men who look like colorful birds due to the lack of flags, badges or banners.
Outsiders might mistake them for hooligans, but in anti-imperialist circles and among the police, who accompany them with three squad cars, they are recognized as "Youth Resistance," the Maoist thug group that disbanded last year because – after critical self-reflection – it had achieved all its goals.
"Of course we’re against anti-Semitism, because that’s a form of racism," shouts from the speakers, followed by a Palestinian solidarity song. An older gentleman with a clipboard under his arm hands out glossy flyers from the youth organization Rebell: "Give anti-communism no chance.
They go down much better than the rather spartanically designed magazine Spartakist. In the background, a block of flags of the Vereinigung der Verfolgten des Naziregimes – Bund der AntifaschistInnen passes by; the demand printed on A4 for a protest event next Friday: "The withdrawal of non-profit status must fall."
"May I offer you a flyer?" asks a granny. "Against surveillance on the Internet," she praises the flyer of the action alliance "Freedom not Fear," which is obviously broader in its composition than suspected. All alone leads her fight a woman who has strapped her flyer once again in upper body size. It is about the memory of three revolutionary Kurdish women who were killed in Paris in 2013, that is, "murdered by means of the ugly as well as dirty complicity of the forces of the last representative of the patriarchal spirit, the capitalist system."
"The dead admonish us"
Arrived in Friedrichsfelde, at the entrance to the pea soup and organization festival mile, a good-humored Dieter Dehm wishes everyone "Happy New Year" and advertises the annual kick-off of the Left Party in the afternoon in the former cinema Kosmos. The party leadership had already laid down their wreaths in the morning; everyone from Klaus Lederer to Katja Kippping had come. Except Sahra and Lafo.
The Junge Welt tries to bring what feels like a month’s circulation among the people. At the stand of the Spartacists, people fantasize about the "racist dismissal" of a St. Pauli player who had supported the Turkish invasion of the Syrian-Kurdish areas. The MLPD band Nimmes plays "Auf, auf zum Kampf".
For many participants, the pioneer bubble is pressing: inhumane conditions in the queue in front of the porta-potties. Young activists roll up their flags at the entrance gate to the cemetery, others hand out leaflets with a travel notice: "On January 25 to Leipzig, defend linksunten-indymedia.org!" Connewitz calls for a left-wing demo.
Classical music plays on the cemetery grounds. The expressions become more thoughtful. The mountains of red carnations make it impossible to tell which grave belongs to Rosa and which to Karl. "The dead admonish us."