Rosa Luxemburg “floater” released for burial after 90 years

IT’S TAKEN NINE DECADES, but the unclaimed female torso that was fished out of Berlin’s Landwehr Canal in the spring of 1919 has finally been released for burial. It had been kept on display in the pathology department of Charité Hospital as a classic example of a water corpse or “floater” until 2007, when Dr. Michael Tsokos, the department’s director, noticed it and determined that it probably belonged to the murdered German communist leader Rosa Luxemburg.

Tsokos announced his discovery to the press last spring and promptly issued a call for genetic material in order to confirm his suspicions (I have already written about this case here and here). But after over a year of study and nine months of media overkill, Tsokos has finally laid down his scalpel. “There are indications that it could have been Rosa Luxemburg,” the public prosecutor’s office told the Berlin daily Tagesspiegel on Monday, “but they have not been enough to provide conclusive proof.” DNA extracted from the hair of a living relative in Israel did not match that belonging to the cadaver – Tsokos himself stated last summer that the chances of a match stood at only forty percent anyway. Now the remains will finally be buried at an undisclosed location. Testing will continue on tissue samples, however, and a positive identification cannot be ruled out in the future. …



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