Larissa Reissner was born in Lublin, Poland, then part of the Russian Empire. She spent her early childhood in Tomsk, Siberia, where her father Mikhail Reissner was a law professor. In 1903, when she was 8 years old, the family fled to Germany to escape tsarist repression. Exiled Russian revolutionaries and leading members of the German left, such as Karl Liebknecht, were frequent guests in the household. The family returned to Russia in 1907 and settled in St. Petersburg. Following the overthrow of Tsar Nicholas II in the Russian Revolution, Larissa became become the first woman political commissar in the Red Army. In 1918, she married Fyodor Raskolnikov, another Bolshevik. During the civil war that followed the Revolution, she ran an espionage operation with Raskolnikov, commanding members of the Russian Navy. She traveled with Raskolnikov as representatives of the Soviet Republic to Afghanistan, where they carried out diplomatic negotiations in 1921. Everywhere she went, she wrote passionate essays, articles and letters about her experiences. Numerous collections of her work were published in the early and mid 1920s. In 1923, she went illegally to Germany, where she became involved with the Polish Communist Karl Radek, and wrote accounts the Weimar Republic, then returned to Russia, and wrote about mining conditions in the Urals. She died of typhus at age 30 in 1926.
Hamburg at the Barricades and other Writings on Weimar Germany is a compilation of her works that was published in 1977.