The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Liebknecht, Wilhelm

Edition of 1920. See also Wilhelm Liebknecht on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

LIEBKNECHT, Wilhelm, German Socialist: b. Giessen, 29 March 1826; d. Berlin, 6 Aug. 1890. He studied at the University of Giessen and later at Marburg and Berlin. He was early interested in the writings of St. Simon, and in 1848 went to Paris to take part in the revolution there; then joined in the unsuccessful attempt to make Germany a republic, and was imprisoned nine months without trial. When released he went to Switzerland, where he tried to unite the trade unions on a socialistic basis, was again arrested, handed over to the French authorities and banished to England. While there he became an intimate friend of Marx and Engels (qq.v.) and was a member of the Communist League. In 1862 he returned to Germany, continued his socialistic agitation and in 1865 was banished from Prussia. He went to Leipzig, where he met Bebel (q.v.), was active in trade union organization and was one of the founders of the Saxony Volkspartei soon absorbed by the German Social Democratic party (1868), of which he was from the first a leading member. In 1867 he was candidate for the North German Parliament, but was under arrest and lost the election; he was, however, elected later. In 1868 he was made editor of the Demokratisches Wochenblatt, the next year enlarged and published under the name of Volkstaat. In 1870 he denounced the Franco-Prussian War, for which he was imprisoned three months, and later so bitterly attacked Bismarck that he was again imprisoned. In 1874 he was elected to the Reichstag of which he was a member almost constantly till his death. He was one of the strongest leaders of his party in that body, and very popular and highly respected among German workingmen. In 1890 the name of the Volkstaat was changed to Vorwärts, and Liebknecht was retained as editor. He wrote ‘Die Grund und Bodenfrage’ (1874), a discussion of the land question from the Socialist standpoint; ‘Ein Blick in die neue Welt’ (1887), an account of his visit to the United States; ‘Robert Blum und seine Zeit’ (1890); ‘Robert Owen' (1892), and ‘Socialism, what it is and what it seeks to accomplish’ (translated and published in the United States). Consult Aveling, ‘Wilhelm Liebknecht and the Social Democratic Movement’ (1896).