Liebknecht, Karl

BORN 13 Aug 1871, Leipzig, Sachsen - DIED 15 Jan 1919, Berlin
GRAVE LOCATION Berlin: Städtischer Zentralfriedhof Friedrichsfelde, Gudrunstrasse, Lichtenberg (Gedenkstätte der Sozialisten (cenotaph))

Karl Liebknecht was the son of the socialist Wilhelm Liebknecht and his second wife Natalie Reh, whose father Theodor was a member of the Parliament of Frankfurt in 1848. Karl studied law and political economy in Leipzig and Berlin. In 1899 he started practising as a lawyer in Berlin and in 1900 he joined the SPD. On 8 May 1900 he married Julia Paradies. They had two sons and a daughter.

He often defended socialists and from 1907 to 1910 he was president of the Socialist Youth International. His wife Julia died in 1911 and in 1912 he married art historian Sophia Ryss. In 1912 he was elected into the Reichstag for the SPD. In 1914 he formed the Spartacusbund with Rosa Luxemburg, Franz Mehring, Clara Zetkin and others. It was soon declared illegal and he was sent to the front during World War I. He returned to Berlin after health problems and was arrested after organising a demonstration. He was imprisoned and released in October 1918, after Prince Maximilian of Baden granted amnesty to all politicial prisoners.

On 9 November Liebknecht declared the Free Socialist Republic from a balcony of the Berliner Stadtschloss, only two hours after Philipp Scheidemann declared the Germann Republic at the Reichtstag. In January 1919 he joined the Spartacus uprising in Berlin after opposing it initially. On 15 January 1919 he and Rosa Luxemburg were captured and brought to the Eden Hotel. They were tortured and murdered afterwards. Liebknecht was forced to step out of a car and then shot in the back, so it could be stated that he had been shot during an escape attempt.

His grave at the Zentralfriedhof Friedrichsfelde was destroyed by the nazis in 1941, but his gravestone was rescued. In 1950 the mortal remains couldn't be traced. The gravestone was placed at the Gedenkstätte der Sozialisten in 1951.

• Son: Liebknecht, Robert
• Wife: Liebknecht-Ryss, Sophia (1912-1919)

Related persons
• employed Haase, Hugo
• cooperated with Luxemburg, Rosa


The grave of Karl Liebknecht at the Gedenkstätte der Sozialisten, Städtischer Zentralfriedhof Friedrichsfelde, Berlin.
Picture by Androom (14 Nov 2004)


• Hammer, Klaus, Historische Friedhöfe & Grabmäler in Berlin, Stattbuch Verlag, Berlin, 1994
• Hoffmann, Joachim, Berlin Friedrichsfelde, Ein Deutscher Nationalfriedhof, Das Neue Berlin, Berlin, 2001
Summa Encyclopedie

Liebknecht, Robert

Published: 30 Sep 2018
Last update: 26 Mar 2023