May 29, 2009 / 5:23 PM / 11 years ago

Mysterious Berlin corpse probably Rosa Luxemburg

By Jacob Comenetz

BERLIN, May 29 (Reuters) - The corpse of Marxist activist Rosa Luxemburg has almost certainly been found in Berlin 90 years after her death, a forensic expert said on Friday.

Michael Tsokos, the head of forensic medicine at Berlin’s Charite hospital, told Reuters he was "90 percent certain" that a body of a woman found in the hospital is Luxemburg.

"Everything points to that," Tsokos told Reuters. "The only thing missing is the DNA proof."

He said they were hoping to obtain a personal item of Luxemburg in order to be able to compare to determine if the DNA from the corpse matches.

The body was only found by chance as he was working on putting together an exhibit, Tsokos said.

Born in Poland in 1871, the Jewish Marxist Luxemburg became a German citizen in 1898.

She was one of the most important representatives of the left-wing socialist, anti-militarist, and internationalist positions in the German Social Democratic Party before 1918.

She was repeatedly imprisoned for revolutionary and anti-war statements. After taking part in an unsuccessful revolution in Berlin, she was murdered in 1919 by a quasi-governmental militia and her body dumped in the Landwehr canal.

Joern Schuetrumpf, an historian and a Luxemburg biographer, told Reuters there was strong evidence that the corpse — which was missing its head, hands, and feet — was Luxemburg’s.

A body said to be Luxemburg’s was buried in 1919, Schuetrumpf said. He said authorities "wanted to get a body under ground as soon as possible" even though it was known during the autopsy of that body that it was not Luxemburg.

Schuetrumpf said there was chaos at the time with clashes between communists and para-military organisations.

The Social Democractic leaders of the revolution considered Luxemburg and her comrade Karl Liebknecht to be threats to the young republic. The two founded the German Communist Party on January 1, 1919 and were murdered two weeks later.

Luxemburg, Liebknecht, and Wilhelm Pieck, the leaders of the German Communist Party, were first arrested and taken in for questioning at the Adlon Hotel in Berlin.

German soldiers escorted Luxemburg and Liebknecht out of the building, knocking them unconscious. Pieck managed to escape, while the unconscious bodies of Luxemburg and Liebknecht were driven away in a German military jeep.

They were shot and thrown into the canal by the same circles of militarist Freikorps (Volunteer Corps) that later openly supported the National Socialists’ seizure of power.

(Additional reporting by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit)

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