Clara Zetkin as a Socialist Speaker

Clara Zetkin as a Socialist Speaker

Clara Zetkin as a Socialist Speaker

Clara Zetkin as a Socialist Speaker

Excerpt

1878. At the age of 23, Clara Zetkin left Saxony and went to France via Switzerland. She lived in Paris with her husband for seven years (since 1882). Owing to her journalistic work she soon found recognition in the international and German working-class movement. Frederick Engels appreciated her deep theoretical understanding that was based on a thorough knowledge of Marxism. After her husband's death in January 1889 and after the repeal of the Law against Socialists, Clara Zetkin returned to Germany with her two sons in 1891. In 1892 she accepted the job of editor of the socialist women's magazine Die Gleichheit (Equality) in Stuttgart. There she also started her career as one of the leaders of the German and international working-class movement, a circumstance which made it necessary for her to travel to many parts of Germany as well as to other European countries.

As a member of the German Reichstag she lived in Birkenwerder, a suburb of Berlin, but in order to fulfil her international responsibilities, she spent a good part of her time in the Soviet Union. She died at the age of 76 on June 20, 1933, in Arkhangelskoe near Moscow. As a "Revolutionary Heroine" of the working men and women of all countries, she was buried at the Kremlin wall.

Impressions and insights that formed her personality

Impressions from the days of her childhood had an important and lasting influence on the development of Clara Zetkin's personality. Clara was a bright child, and being the daughter of the teacher Gottfried Eissner and his very active wife Josephine, she grew up in an intellectually and socially enlightened home and soon learned about the social problems in her own neighbourhood. Clara learned about the poverty and misery of the local cottage industry workers, the stocking knitters of Wiederau, a milieu that was similar to the one described in The Weavers by Gerhart Hauptmann. She could never forget her pale friends from the days of her childhood. At the same time, she learned about the living conditions of the agricultural working class in her own neighbourhood, particularly the overburdened working women.

Even as a young girl Clara Zetkin's parents encouraged her to read world literature and historical works. She was deeply impressed by a book about the French Revolution, descriptions of the liberation struggle of the Dutch and the Swiss as well as a history of the insurrections against political Catholicism. The way had thus been paved for her commitment to the struggle of the exploited and oppressed and for a revolutionary-heroic approach to life. Looking back . . .

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