Could Jerusalemite solve Rosa Luxemburg corpse mystery?

By DPA| Haaretz/Israel, July 19, 2009

A 79-year-old Jerusalem woman may offer the only hope of solving the mystery of a headless corpse thought to be the body of communist revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg, according to a report released Sunday.

Irene Borde is a great niece of Luxemburg, who was killed by rightist militiamen amid political turmoil in 1919.

The German newspaper Bild am Sonntag said scholars had not been aware of the relationship. It quoted Borde saying the family, who initially fled to Russia, played down the connection because Luxemburg had been an enemy of the Soviet brand of communism.

Borde has sent a DNA sample to be tested by Berlin pathologist Michael Tsokos, who found a waterlogged female corpse with no head, hands or feet in the specimens room of the city museum of medical history.

It is one of two female corpses found in Berlin rivers in 1919. The other was buried as Luxemburg, co-founder of the Communist Paty of Germany. Tsokos believes this was a mistake. Nazis desecrated the now empty grave in 1935.

The newspaper said Borde was a granddaughter of Luxemburg’s brother, grew up in the Soviet Union and moved to Israel in 1973 where she was a professor of process technology.

“The surname Luxemburg disadvantaged us in the Soviet Union,” she was quoted saying. “Let’s solve this mystery as quickly as possible.”

DNA can only definitively prove relationships along all-male or all-female paths of relationship.

Tsokos warned that even if DNA was found in the corpse, it could only indicate a relationship with 60 to 70 per cent certainty.

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