- Leader of the SPD’s left wing
- Pacifist and opponent of the war
- Co-founder of the KPD
Karl Liebknecht was already a leader of the SPD’s left wing before World War I. True to his consistently pacifist convictions, he rejected his party’s leadership’s Burgfrieden policy and voted against war credits. In 1916, he was excluded from the SPD’s parliamentary group. He founded the “International” group and left the SPD for the USPD in 1917. He was imprisoned for several years because of his opposition to the war and was not released until the November Revolution. Thereafter, as a leader of the Spartacists, he pushed for a councils-based dictatorship in Germany modelled after the Russian system. He helped found the KPD. Liebknecht played a major role in the so-called Spartacist Uprising in Berlin in January 1919. He was murdered by Freikorps troops shortly thereafter.