Marx & Engels, Berlin

  - darkometer rating:  1 -

In socialist countries, statues of the fathers of the communist idea, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, were commonplace in all cities. And East Berlin was no exception. After the collapse of the Eastern Bloc and the abolition of communism in most of its countries, the majority of those statues disappeared too (either moved somewhere out of view or destroyed – except were such statues were deliberately collected for display in socialist sculpture parks).
However, one prominent pair, a double statue of a sitting Marx and a standing Engels, has survived in Berlin … albeit only just.

They used to face East Berlin's hub Alexanderplatz from the south, i.e. looking north in the direction of the TV Tower – a prime showpiece of East German achievement in itself – and against the backdrop of the Palace of the Republic, the "Parliament" of the GDR and its central Palace of Culture. The latter has meanwhile been demolished (see under lost places) … and, if it all goes wrong, i.e. according to plan, the backdrop will one day be an even more incongruous fake replica of pseudo-grandeur: the rebuilt City Palace (Stadtschloss) recalling Prussian imperialism!

When I last was in Berlin (in November 2011) I thought Marx and Engels had disappeared too! Though it didn't take me long to find them again: they have simply been relocated from their former central plaza spot and moved closer to the westernmost corner of Alexanderplatz and Karl-Liebknecht-Straße by the Spree river. But not only that: now they have been turned around too, by 180 degrees, so they now face the other way, i.e. towards West Berlin. Is that symbolism coincidental? I doubt it very much!

Now call me grumpy or naïve if you wish, but to me it smacks of a blatant exercise in revisionism. I'm not a Marxist (despite certain left leanings), but neither am I one for capitalism's triumphant excesses. And this I find a particularly cheeky example.

OK, at least they haven't been erased altogether, they remain freely on public display … and, if that's any consolation (though I have my doubts), they are now just across the road from the GDR Museum. Still, it's an odd move to say the least …  

New Location: [52.5188,13.4031]
  • Marx & Engels 7 - seen from the road in 2016Marx & Engels 7 - seen from the road in 2016
  • Marx & Engels 8 - still with polished hands and feetMarx & Engels 8 - still with polished hands and feet
  • Marx & Engels 9 - looking dismayedMarx & Engels 9 - looking dismayed
  • Marx and Engels 1- in their original positionMarx and Engels 1- in their original position
  • Marx and Engels 2 - in front of Palace of Republic demolitionMarx and Engels 2 - in front of Palace of Republic demolition
  • Marx and Engels 4 - goneMarx and Engels 4 - gone
  • Marx and Engels 5 - relocatedMarx and Engels 5 - relocated
  • Marx and Engels 6 - also a kind of revisionismMarx and Engels 6 - also a kind of revisionism

©, Peter Hohenhaus 2010-2019

Cookies make it easier for us to provide you with our services. With the usage of our services you permit us to use cookies.
More information Ok Decline