Mathilde Jacob

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Mathilde Jacob on a relief by the sculptor Ingeborg Hunzinger (1996), in front of the publishing building of Neues Deutschland at Franz-Mehring-Platz

Stumbling stone, Altonaer Straße 26, in Berlin-Hansaviertel

Memorial plaque on the grave of her parents at the Jewish Cemetery Berlin-Weißensee

Mathilde Jacob (* 8 March 1873 in Berlin; † 14 April 1943 in Theresienstadt concentration camp) was a translator and shorthand typist. As Rosa Luxemburg’s secretary and close confidante, she smuggled her letters and manuscripts out of prison and saved parts of her estate.


Mathilde Jacob was born to Julius and Emilie Jacob, a Jewish couple who were both battlemasters. As a self-employed stenographer and translator, she became acquainted with their editor Julian Balthasar Marchlewski, Franz Mehring and Rosa Luxemburg through writing assignments for Die sozialdemokratische Korrespondenz at the end of 1913.

Deeply impressed by Rosa Luxemburg’s personality, Mathilde Jacob helped the anti-militarist, especially during her repeated imprisonment. This ranged from taking care of her apartment (including her cat Mimi) to smuggling letters and highly political manuscripts out of prison
When Mathilde Jacob herself was briefly imprisoned in May 1919, she learned of the death of Rosa Luxemburg, whose body she also had to identify.

After psychologically coming to terms with the great loss, she joined Luxemburg’s former defender, Paul Levi, who became chairman of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) in March 1919. After the latter was expelled from the KPD in 1921 due to disagreements over the March Action, he founded the Communist Working Group (Kommunistische Arbeitsgemeinschaft, KAG) and, with Mathilde Jacob, joined first the USPD and, with its majority, the SPD in 1922

Here she assisted Paul Levi in editing various publications, such as the magazine Unser Weg.
After Levi’s death in 1930, Mathilde Jacob withdrew from all political activities, but maintained contacts with resistance circles after 1933
As a Jew, she had to endure the reprisals and restrictions of the Nazi regime. She was only able to keep her head above water with a small pension and occasional clerical work until she was finally picked up on 27 July 1942 and deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp, where she died on 14 April 1943. Her grave is located at the Jewish Cemetery Berlin-Weißensee.


Her life and achievements were first researched by Heinz Knobloch and published in his 1985 book Meine liebste Mathilde .
Mathilde Jacob is particularly credited with smuggling Rosa Luxemburg’s manuscript The Crisis of Social Democracy out of prison in 1915 and ensuring its printing and distribution.
Another historical deed is the rescue of parts of the Rosa Luxemburg estate, which Mathilde Jacob carefully managed and handed over to an American historian in 1939.


Memorial plaque at the Tiergarten Town Hall in Berlin-Moabit

In 1995 the town hall forecourt of the then Berlin district of Tiergarten was named after her, and in 1997 an associated commemorative plaque was inaugurated at the town hall. Since the Berlin district merger in 2001, Mathilde-Jacob-Platz 1 now belongs to the Mitte district.

In 1996, a terracotta stele in honor of Mathilde Jacob, created by the artist Ingeborg Hunzinger, was erected in front of the publishing building of Neues Deutschland on Franz-Mehring-Platz.

On May 10, 2011, a Stolperstein was laid for her in front of her former home, Altonaer Straße 26, in Berlin-Hansaviertel.


  • Kulturamt Tiergarten: Aufbrüche. Women’s stories from Tiergarten 1850-1950. Berlin 1999.
  • Hans-Jürgen Mende, Kurt Wernicke (eds.): Tiergarten. The District Encyclopedia. Berlin 2000.
  • Mathilde Jacob: Von Rosa Luxemburg und ihren Freunden in Krieg und Revolution 1914-1919. Edited and introduced by Sibylle Quack and Rüdiger Zimmermann. In: Internationale wissenschaftliche Korrespondenz zur Geschichte der deutschen Arbeiterbewegung (IWK). Vol. 24, Issue 4, December 1988, pp. 435-515, ISSN 0046-8428 (anexcerpt of pp. 490-498 and 505f. also in: Andreas Lixl-Purcell (ed.): Erinnerungen deutsch-jüdischer Frauen 1900-1990. Reclam, Leipzig 1992, pp. 105-119, ISBN 3379014230).
  • Heinz Knobloch: My dearest Mathilde. The inconspicuous life of Mathilde Jacob. Berlin 1985.
  • Ottokar Luban: Mathilde Jacob. More than Rosa Luxemburg’s secretary. With the text of M. Jacob’s only public speech (19.12.1920). In: JahrBuch für Forschungen zur Geschichte der Arbeiterbewegung. Heft III, 2002, pp. 110-128. ISSN 1610-093X.
  • Jacob, Mathilde. In: Hermann Weber, Andreas Herbst: Deutsche Kommunisten. Biographical Handbook 1918 to 1945. 2nd, revised and greatly expanded edition. Karl Dietz, Berlin 2008, ISBN 978-3-320-02130-6.

Web links

Commons: Mathilde Jacob– Album with pictures, videos and audio files