Oskar Kanehl: To Wilhelm Liebknecht

Page: Poem by Oskar Kanehl: To Karl Liebknecht, ca. 1920.
To Karl Liebknecht, poem ca. 1920
German National Library, Signature: 1920 A 7692

Os­kar Kanehl: To Wil­helm Liebknecht

Of all the dead on all the battlefields the most eloquent
is you
Karl Liebknecht.
You are alive:
Because you are among us.
You are alive.
Because your proletarians are alive.
Your fist is clenched in a hundred fists.
Your heart beats in a thousand hearts.
Your mouth calls from a million mouths:
Long live the World Revolution!

Oskar Kanehl, Steh auf, Prolet! : Poems, 1920

Oskar Kanehl (1888-1929) was an Expressionist and Communist poet and publisher even before the First World War. As a lieutenant on the front he distributed poems and leaflets critical of the war. He is also presumed to have been a temporary member of the "Executive Council of the Workers' and Soldiers' Councils" in Berlin and the later KPD. His book of poems "Steh auf, Prolet!" ("Arise, Proletarian"), which belongs to the genre of socialist agitation and incitement poetry, was published in 1920.
Kanehl deploys a paradox in his poem "An Karl Liebknecht": Karl Liebknecht, who fell on the battlefield of the Revolution, is the most "eloquent" of all the dead. The Communist leader, who was murdered in 1919, lives on in his ideas and his followers, the proletarians, who collectively pursue his goal of world revolution.
In his poetry, Kanehl clearly depicted the class struggles of the November Revolution, but greatly simplified the complex relationships. In his poems "Der Prolet" ("The Proletarian") and "Der Bürger" ("The Citizen") there are no intermediate stages and no compromises between the deprived and the bourgeoisie; the antagonism must end in the violent confrontation of the Revolution.
After 1919 Kanehl worked among other things as a theatre director, but found it difficult to cope in the social order of the Weimar Republic. He committed suicide in Berlin in 1929.

Further information:
Neue Deutsche Biographie