The mysterious body of a woman kept for 90 years in a Berlin hospital may be the semi-decomposed remains of one of communism's leading heroines, Rosa Luxemburg, a forensic scientist said Friday.
Luxemburg was hailed as a revolutionary of her time
European leftists, who venerate Luxemburg's writings and resoluteness, still make pilgrimages to her Berlin grave, erected after she was killed by right-wing soldiers as Germany was teetering on the edge of revolution in 1919.
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.
Scientist Michael Tsokos's proposed solution to the forensic mystery implies that a female body plucked from a Berlin canal in 1919, examined in an autopsy and buried under her name is not Luxemburg's.
Tsokos heads the pathology department of Berlin's Charite Hospital. He said he discovered the headless, waterlogged body he believes to be Luxemburg's in an old anatomical collection there and that he was “90 percent certain” the body was that of the revolutionary.
The hands and feet were also missing, but Tsokos established that the legs were of different lengths. Luxemburg walked with a limp.
"We examined the body by computer tomography and concluded it was of a woman aged 40 to 50," he said Friday. The communist leader was killed in her late 40s.
Witnesses say Luxemburg was bludgeoned and shot to death on January 19, 1919, and her body thrown in the canal, but the waterlogged body found soon afterwards had no bullet wounds, according to the contemporary autopsy report cited by Tsokos.
He has now appealed to the German public for help in tracking down Luxemburg's DNA to settle the issue.
Editor: Nick Amies