2017 02 01, 11:36

Dear Paweł,

I wanted to ask your opinion on another show that will happen in Mai this year. I was invited to do a contribution for „Luther and the Avant-garde“, a show on the occasion of the commemoration of 500 years of the reformation in Wittenberg. The exhibition takes place in a former prison. http://luther-avantgarde.de/2017/

I grew up in a protestant family and my mother is still very active in the church, but I myself left the church when I was in my early twenties. So I wrote to them and said that I couldn’t contribute, if I had to be in praise of Martin Luther. They replied that there should be some connection, but otherwise I was completely free, also to be critical.

I asked the organizers also what was the function of the prison. It was build by the Prussian empire, but how was it used during Nazi and DDR times? Surprisingly, they didn’t know! They had to ask a city historian to find out. Apparently, it was used for ‘normal’ criminals and it is not used since the end of the DDR. The building is today abandoned and will be restored, but only superficially, for the exhibition.

So I thought about Martin Luther. What I still like about him is that he translated the bible into German and made in accessible to everyone. But what I really don’t like about him is how he betrayed the poor farmers, in taking the side of the landowners.[1] Also due of his reaction, poor farmers remained serfs – basically not much better then slaves – until the beginning the 19th century. They couldn’t choose where to live, and often even whom to marry, without consent of their ‘owner’. And I feel that their demands were not exaggerated. They only wanted the ‘old law’ back – the law in which they had free use of the forests and lakes, and a common meadow for grazing. They wanted less taxes and more respect.

So I decided to use a part of a text by Rosa Luxemburg, in which she describes how capitalism – which started in the time of Martin Luther – by its very nature has to devour all that is free and not owned by anyone – like the forests and lakes, and meadows, and also all the work that can’t be made into money.
Small subsistence farming -and also the local varieties of apple trees that only make apples for local apple cakes -have all to be eaten up to make place for big plantation industrial farming.[2] Rosa Luxemburg saw this very clearly. (((…)))[3]

I also respect her for her very warmhearted, compassionate letters from prison. During her time in prison, she also kept working on a herbarium. Before becoming a politician, she had wanted to be a botanist and she deeply loved plants.

So, my proposal for the exhibition is to make a garden in front of the prison with plants from Rosa Luxemburg’s Herbarium[4]. In this garden, I will plant one apple tree Malus Silvestre’s, as a reminder to the wild forests that once dominated Europe[5]. And one apple tree of the variety Martin Luther[6]. But there are also many other plants, all from the Herbarium- that by the way was found some years ago in Warsaw (Luxemburg was Polish). (((!!!)))

In Germany, everyone knows that Martin Luther famously said: „And if the world would finish tomorrow, I would still plant an apple tree today“. In my research, I found that this citation is actually a fake. It was made up by the protestant church during the Second World War, maybe to inspire some hope[7]. Because during the war, many people might have felt that the world is going to end. So what about this false citation? Why is it so popular?

I think that maybe the world will not end, if we plant more than one apple tree. Maybe we need to plant 1000 trees, maybe one million. But we need to plant trees so that the world doesn’t end! I don’t want it to end; it is very beautiful. We might also need the help of thinkers to find ways to prevent the world from ending…

So, outside there will be the garden with the two apple trees. Inside I will paint a naked ‘Ewa’ with the apple ‘Malus sieversii’. The model for ‘Ewa’ is my friend Ewa Majewska, who is a philosopher that loves Rosa Luxemburg and has my same family name (she is Polish from Warsaw and we are not of the same family, as far as we know – but who really knows? In any case, we feel like cousins!) Ewa will also write a text.

I will also paint a double portrait of Rosa Luxemburg and Silvia Federici, an Italian philosopher who wrote about the persecution of women as witches in Europe, and the work of women in general, also in the time of Martin Luther.[8] (((Silvia Federici!)))

Silvia Federici also wanted to re-create “commons” – places, that people could freely use together. She wrote: „‘Community’ has to be intended (…) as a quality of relations, a principle of cooperation and of responsibility to each other and to the earth, the forests, the seas, the animals.” [9]

So — this is a lot of information. I hesitated to send it to you, because I am not sure how you will like it. I know that your father was in prison during communism, and Rosa Luxemburg also was a communist. But I think, that she really wished for a better world, she was very idealistic. I don’t agree with all her thoughts and writings, but I respect her very much for her engagement against war – the First World War – and colonialism, and women’s rights.

If you could agree to it, I would really like to again present also one or more of the apples that you gave me as a gift in a vitrine in the room with the paintings.

Please feel free to say no if you don’t like the idea. But I would be very happy if you say yes.

All my best, as always,



In yellow marked by PawelFreisler

Rosa Luxemburg, 12 years old Rosa Luxemburg, 1912











רוזה לוקסמבורג, בגיל 12 (1883)
2017 05 02, 15:06
Two photographs of Rozalia L. chosen … from the web space by… PawelFreisler (without permission)
Different languages – different focuses.


Róża Luksemburg, właśc. Rozalia Luxenburg
(ur. 5 marca 1871 w Zamościu, zm. 15 stycznia 1919 w Berlinie)
– działaczka i ideolog polskiego i niemieckiego ruchu robotniczego.
Z pochodzenia Żydówka, była najmłodszym z pięciorga dzieci kupca Eliasza Luxenburga
i Liny z domu Loewenstein. Nazwisko Luksemburg to wynik błędu urzędnika. (… … …)


Rosa Luxemburg (* 5. März 1871 als Rozalia Luksenburg in ZamośćKönigreich Polen;
† 15. Januar 1919 in Berlin) war eine einflussreiche Vertreterin der europäischen Arbeiterbewegung, des MarxismusAntimilitarismus und „proletarischen Internationalismus“. (… … …)
Rosa Luxemburg (also Rozalia LuxenburgPolishRóża Luksemburg; 5 March 1871[1] – 15 January 1919)
was a Marxist theoristphilosophereconomistanti-war activist, and revolutionary socialist
of Polish-Jewish descent who became a naturalized German citizen. She was, successively,
a member of the Social Democracy of the Kingdom of Poland and Lithuania (SDKPiL),
the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), the Independent Social Democratic Party (USPD),
and the Communist Party of Germany (KPD).
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For other uses, see Rosa Luxemburg (disambiguation).


Dear Antje,

Of course I have my own additions and remarks regarding your narration. But I feel free, as you let me.
I agree on that you present the apples (gift from me) as you wish. They are yours. Yours is also the choice.
I am afraid that my digressions might be disturbing for you. They are about for example history… of the Polish Jews on the boarder of Austrian and Russian Empire. If I am not mistaken, Rozalia was not Russian citizen. I have not read anywhere about her being an Austrian citizen (but there was not an independent Poland either). She lived, as you know in Zamość.

(Zamość is an outstanding example of an innovative approach to town planning, combining the functions of an urban ensemble, a residence, and a fortress in accordance with a consistently implemented Renaissance concept.) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zamo%C5%9B%C4%87

Rozalia lived in a Jewish… Polish society (if only?), quite special in that area. Near Rozalia there was Yiddish, German, French, if her family was as Polish as it says to be. I doubt if they spoke Polish at home but she for sure spoke Polish fluently. There were also local, well rooted religions as Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Judaism, Protestantism, Islam. ( ) I know that the Ashkenazi Jews were in majority in the city and got special privileges from the city owners, the Zamoyski family. (Ordynacja Zamojska – so were called the integrated assets of the family… Rozalia’s father had connections and co-operated with the ordynacja). This region at the time of Rozalia was subordinated to Russia. There was a continuous destructive pressure from the Russian Empire.
There is a plenty of historic (t’) materials that are not taken into consideration… interpreted, over-interrelated, under-interpretated and so on.
While reading writings of Rozalia one should know about the whole context of her adolescence.

As you know my grandfather married with a polish girl, but at that time (1900) both were citizens of Austria. Grandfather was a Silesian (from the part belonging to Austria – near Moravia – and which Preussen never got). His family came from Brosdorf, Bravantice, a village near to Ostrava where this part of Freisler family lived at last five generations. My grandmother originated from a big clan of Polish traditions, nee Firlej-Bielańska.
My grandparents lived in Nowy Sącz. In their bedroom there was a very big bed. At both sides there was bedside cabinet. At grandfathers side there was a Bible. Very old one. Read many times and worn out. It was in German. It was a protestant Bible. I do not remember that this caused any disturbance in the very Catholic view of my grandmother and the family. They had 8 children (4 boys and 4 girls). All of them were raised in the Polish traditions, very special for the family of my grandmother and the people living in the mountain area, on the borders.

In 1939 my father was 25 years old. 1st of September 1939 the war broke out. He struggled from the first day. Against Hitler Germans and Stalin Soviet Empire. In 1945 he was arrested by Polish Soviets and convicted to death. After few years his punishment was changed into life long prison… he was released after 10 years in 1956. He lived free under permanent supervision which he all the time tried to escape from.
Died in 1964 in unclear circumstances. He was 49 years old.

Shall I send you the basket for the apples that I have promised you before?

In the basket? What do you think?


Basket by Pawel Freisler






2017 24 02 12:39

Dear Paweł,

I am only now replying to your A4 pages about Róża / Rozalia / Rosa and I am sorry it took so long.

I could add that my Grandfather Helmut Majewski, born in Züllichau – today Sulechów, near Zielona Góra – always told me that when he grew up, one third of the town was speaking Polish, one third German and one third Yiddish. They spoke German at home and his first name is German, even though his second name is Polish.
Helmut Majewski went to Berlin to study the piano. And he became a National socialist party member, to rise in the hierarchy of youth music (brass music). He also composed music for this. And he was leading the fanfare players at the Nürnberg Reichsparteitag.


His children, and his grandchildren (me) are wondering until today. Old photos show him as a happy young man, at the beach, or flirting with the ladies. How did he become convinced that Jewish people were like scum and Germans were great?

He was my grandfather, and he taught me that you need discipline to play Bach. After the war, like so many Germans, he was declared ‘pure washed’ of Nazism (the so-called ‘Persil-Schein’, ‘Persil-Certificate’) and he was teaching music in school and was an organist in his protestant church.

Luther was also an anti-Semite.

So many times, I was watching the feet of my grandfather move from his normal shoes to the ‘organ shoes’, that had a more pointed tip, so that he could play the third voice of the organ with his feet.
When he died, the church cleared out the shoes and left them at the doorstep of his house. My grandmother and aunt were so hurt that they decided that the memorial service was to be held in another church, not the church where he had been playing the organ and leading the choir, and where also we, all his family members, had always at Pentecost formed a family orchestra to play Pachelbel and Bach. (I played the cello).

I remember that the pastor came, who hadn’t known my grandfather. My aunt sat down with him and instructed him to talk in his memorial service also about his aberration, of having been a Nazi. But only in covered words. They were struggling together to find the right words. Protestantism also means self-scrutinization. You can’t just not tell the truth. But the family also didn’t want to have that word there. So they found a medium way.

Grandfather was also a soldier. I don’t know if he killed anyone. The Russians let him go because he played the accordion so well that he could prove he was just a musician.
Once I asked him if he knew what was going on in the concentration camps. Again, he didn’t lie to me. He said simply: „When the war was finished, and we saw these people in the streets, we knew where they were coming from.“

There were members of the Protestant church that were risking their lives, like Dietrich Bonheoffer, who said: „Die Kirche ist den Opfern jeder Gesellschaftsordnung in unbedingter Weise verpflichtet, auch wenn sie nicht der christlichen Gemeinde angehören.“ (“The Church is unconditionally committed to the victims of every social order, even if they are not members of the Christian community.“)

He and Martin Niemöller founded already in 1933 a ‘Pfarrer Notbund’ (Pastor’s Emergency Union) in Wittenberg that made the question of opposing the discrimination of Jews an elementary question of the Christian faith. This let to the foundation of the ‘Bekennende Kirche’ (Confessing Church) in 1934, a fundamental opposition to National Socialism.

But most of the Protestant church followed the doctrine of Martin Luther, who in his time had turned against the farmer’s upheaval: that the church should not meddle in the affairs of the state. Consciousness was to be something private, not something public.
This was the same protestant church that made up the phrase about planting an apple tree when the world is going down.

No! Róża / Rozalia / Rosa showed what it means to be really, fundamentally against the killing of each other in a world war. Or against the exploitation of the other person – which is the biblical ‘Next’, also when this person is living far away and has a different skin color.

She was watching the clouds and taking care of the plants, and she was writing encouraging letters to her friends from her prison cell.

Would I find the same courage?

All my best Antje


[1] In contrast to the reformer and revolutionary Thomas Müntzer, Luther opposed the peasants from 1525 onwards, especially with his treatise of May 6, 1525: Against the Predatory and Murdering Peasants, in which he writes: “They should be smashed into pieces, secretly and publicly, just how you would slay a mad dog”. See: Martin Luther (1525): Wider die Mordischen und Reubischen Rotten der Bawren
[2] „In detail, capital in its struggle against societies with a natural economy pursues the following ends:
1. To gain immediate possession of important sources of productive forces such as land, game in primeval forests, minerals, precious stones and ores, products of exotic flora such as rubber, etc.
2. To ‘liberate’ labour power and to coerce it into service.
3. To introduce a commodity economy.
4. To separate trade and agriculture.“
Rosa Luxemburg, The Accumulation of Capital. Chapter 27: The Struggle Against Natural Economy.
See: https://www.marxists.org/archive/luxemburg/1913/accumulation-capital/ch27.htm
[3] “She stated the general thesis that only the continuous, continued invasion of pre- and non-capitalist spaces could keep the capitalist mode of production alive and the accumulation of capital in motion. (…) As Rosa Luxemburg shows, the colonial powers, which are engaged in the expansion of the capitalist mode of production, are furiously fighting the local farmers’ economies, especially the rural industries and handicrafts in the villages that have existed and flourished for centuries. The industrialization of agriculture, the introduction of large-scale estates in capitalist form, and the transformation of mining and agricultural industries into world market factories is an essential element of this historical transformation. Rosa Luxemburg rightly notes here the fundamental contradiction which gives her the key to the future of imperialism: Capitalism needs non-capitalist spaces, but it destroys them by making them useful for itself and incorporating them into the capitalist world system.” Michael R. Krätke, Rosa Luxemburg, and the analysis of contemporary capitalism. Contested at the Rosa Luxemburg Conference in Berlin, 16/17 January 2009. Http://www.rosalux.de/fileadmin/rls_uploads/docations/090116_RL-Conference/beitraege/Michael_R_Kraetke.pdf
[4] Herbarium, by Evelin Wittich (ed), Rosa Luxemburg (author), Holger Politt (preface). Dietz Vlg Bln; Edition: 1 (May 19, 2016)
[5] The Malus sylvestris is a wild plant affected by the disappearance of the commons and the small farms, as it is particularly fond of the forest edge. Due to large-scale monoculture agriculture it is threatened with extinction in Europe.
[6] This variety was developed by the Barnimer Baumschulen (nurseries) for the anniversary of the Reformation. Http://www.martin-luther-apfel.de/index.php?page=apfel
[7] This sentence was shown to be used first in October 1944 in a circular letter of the Hessian Landeskirche. See: Martin Schloemann, Luthers Apfelbäumchen?: Ein Kapitel deutscher Mentalitätsgeschichte seit dem Zweiten Weltkrieg Pro Business, 2nd Edition, 2016; Alexander Demandt: Über allen Wipfeln – Der Baum in der Kulturgeschichte.Böhlau-Verlag 2002. p. 211 f.
[8] Silvia Federici, Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation. Brooklyn, NY: Autonomedia, 2004.
[9] Silvia Federici, Feminism And the Politics of the Commons, in: Uses of a WorldWind, Movement, Movements, and Contemporary Radical Currents in the United States, edited by Craig Hughes, Stevie Peace and Kevin Van Meter for the Team Colors Collective, Oaskland: AK Press, 2010.