Kollwitz created this image as a response to the brutal murder of Karl Liebknecht, a Communist leader who helped lead an armed revolt against the Socialist government in January 1919. He was assassinated by right-wing paramilitary units. Kollwitz's composition is based on traditional Christian lamentation scenes, thus placing Liebknecht in the role of martyr. The artist paid special attention to the dignity and pathos of Liebknecht’s working-class followers, who had put their hope and faith in him.
from German Expressionism: The Graphic Impulse, March 27–July 11, 2011