Corpse stored in hospital cellar bears similarities to Rosa Luxemburg

By Calvin Palmer

Germany’s revolutionary Marxist  Rosa Luxemburg, an icon for the left wing and feminists, may never have occupied the grave that bears her name in Berlin’s Friedrichsfelde Cemetery.

Pathologist Michael Tsokos, head of the Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences at Berlin’s Charité Hospital, is “90 percent certain” that a body stored in the hospital’s basement since 1919 is that of Luxemburg.

Tosko recently found a corpse – with ho head, feet or hands – stored in the cellar of the hospital’s medical history museum. Not convinced by the results of the autopsy he performed further tests.

The results showed the body had been in the water and belonged to a woman aged between 40 and 50 who suffered from osteoarthritis and had legs of different length.

He concluded that the corpse bore “striking similarities with the real Rosa Luxemburg.”

Luxemburg, known as Red Rosa, was 47 at the time of her death and suffered from a congenital hip ailment that caused her legs to be of different lengths.

After taking part in an unsuccessful revolution, she was murdered by members of the right wing Freikorps on January 15, 1919, and her body thrown into the Landwehr Canal. It was not discovered until almost six months later.

Tsokos hopes to confirm his belief by DNA testing. He has extracted DNA from the corpse and is looking for material to compare it to. Saliva from stamps mailed by Luxemburg has not been able to provide enough material for testing.

He is now trying to locate a mentally handicapped niece of Luxemburg, who is believed to live in Warsaw, Poland, to compare genetic material.

[Based on reports by Der Spiegel and Reuters.]

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