Hero or hate figure? – Karl Liebknecht as a Leipziger

11.8. - 24.10.2021
Studio exhibition

Böttchergäßchen Building, Böttchergäßchen 3, 04109 Leipzig


KarLi - and nothing else? Today, in Leipzig only the famous bar mile to the south of the city centre and a small memorial in Braustraße commemorate the famous politician, Karl Liebknecht.

This exhibition will use his 150th birthday to take a look back: at his life and the life of his family, his lasting impact and the instrumentalisation of his work as a “pioneer for change” in the GDR and also at the political workers’ movement from which he came.

The studio exhibition will focus on biographical events and important stages in the life of Liebknecht, who spent the first 20 years of his life in Leipzig with his family. His father, Wilhelm Liebknecht, was not only a well-educated writer but also one of the leaders of German social democracy. As a member of the Reichstag, Karl Liebknecht drew international attention – also when he was deported from Leipzig together with August Bebel and other politicians. During the time of the Anti-Socialist Laws (1878-1890), his parents’ home was one of the centres of the German workers’ movement and the vibrant Leipzig workers’ and alternative culture. As a lawyer and radical left-wing politician, Karl Liebknecht continued his commitment as one of the founders of the KPD (Communist Party of Germany) during the First World War and the November Revolution until his murder on 15th January 1919. 

Karl Liebknecht is a legend for the left wing to this day – and a reviled figure for conservatives and right-wing extremists – while the exhibition will contrast these perceptions with the history of his origin.