Clara Zetkin (1857
) was born July 5, 1857
. She studied at Leipzig Teacher's College for Women
, and there learned the values of socialism
. In 1881
, she joined the Social Democrat Party
. She married Ossip Zetkin
, a Marxist
and Russian revolutionary
. She called on men to share in parenting and housework. Ossip died of tuberculosis
in January 1889
; they had two children together.
Clara Zetkin continued to be active in the Social Democrat Party; in 1891, she became editor of Die Gleichheit, the party newspaper, (German for "equality"). She brought circulation from 11000 in 1903 to six times as much three years later. It was a position that she held until 1917.
In 1910, Zetkin was made secretary of the International Socialist Women. In 1911, along with Rosa Luxemburg, Clara Zetkin objected to the Social Democrat Party Congress in Jena, Germany, for the lack of commitment against German imperialism. At the beginning of World War I, Zetkin launched a massive campaign against militarism and imperialism.
In December 1914, Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Liebknecht, Paul Levi, Ernest Meyer, Leo Jogiches, Franz Mehring and Clara Zetkin established Spartakusbund, an underground political organization which publicized its views in the Spartacus Letters, an illegal newspaper. Clara Zetkin opposed the Social Democrats' support for the war. In 1915, she was part of the organizing efforts for the International Women's Peace Conference in Berne, Switzerland. Clara Zetkin supported Russia's Bolshevik Revolution and joined the Unabhängige Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (German Independent Socialist Party) in 1917.
In January 1919, Clara Zetkin joined again with Rosa Luxemburg, Leo Jogiches and Karl Liebknecht in the Spartakist Rising that took place in Berlin. Luxemburg, Jogiches and Liebknecht were all captured by the combined forces of the German Army and the Freikorps, and were executed. In 1920, Zetkin formed the Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands, (German Communist Party) along with Ernst Thalmann, Ernst Toller, and Walther Ulbricht. Also in 1920, Zetkin was elected to the Reichstag, serving on the KPD’s central committee. From 1920 until 1933, she worked for the Comintern (Communist International). Zetkin also took part in the international protests against the USA’s Jim Crow laws, imposing punishments on people for consorting with members of other races.
At age 75, in 1932, Zetkin was reelected to the Reichstag. where she made a long speech, denouncing Nazi Party policy under Adolf Hitler.
Clara Zetkin died June 20, 1933.
She wrote the following texts:
Lenin on the Women's Question
From My Memorandum Book (An Interview with Lenin on the Woman Question)
Only in Conjunction With the Proletarian Woman Will Socialism Be Victorious, 1896
Hail to the Third Socialist International!, 1919
In Defence of Rosa Luxemburg, 1919
Rosa Luxemburg, 1919
The Situation in Germany, 1920