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Pipped at the Post by Lenin

This colossal 7.1-metre, 40 ton, bronze monument of the German revolutionary philosopher Karl Marx is officially the second largest bust in the world. Second by a mere 60 cm, the Marx monument is only just overshadowed by the giant Lenin head of Ulan-Ude in Russia. The Marx head stands atop a 4.5-metre stone pedestal. He can be found in the centre of the city of Chemnitz which is in the south east of Germany.

The local people of Chemnitz, on balance, seem to have embraced the monument and it’s murky history maybe this is case of ostalgie. It is a big tourist attraction for the city pulling in visitors from all over the world and a site of pilgrimage for many with an interest in the influential German philosopher.

The Crowning Jewel for a Model Socialist Centre

The Marx monument was designed by the famed Soviet sculpture Lew Kerbel and was cast in Bronze in an art foundry in Leningrad, now St. Petersburg. It was officially unveiled along side Karl Marx Allee on October 9, 1971 in front of crowd numbering approximately 250,000 people. The city of Chemnitz had been renamed in 1953 to Karl Marx Stadt by the then soviet aligned government of East Germany and this name remained until 1990.

Interestingly, Karl Marx, who was originally from Trier in Germany, never went to the city once during his long life. This deficit in relevance mattered little to city officials. Following the Second World War they attempted to rebuild the city as a model socialist centre. A square was constructed for demonstrations and the monument to Marx took pride of place. Peculiarly, the city motto was Stadt mit Köpfchen until 2007, the city with brains.

Workers of the World Unite

Marx looks a little flustered for whatever reason, and maybe you can detect some frustration hidden within his face. Behind are written the famous words Workers of the world, unite! in four languages: Russian, French, German and English. The lines are lifted from the Communist Manifesto which he co-wrote along with Friedrich Engels.

Many other monuments to Marx, Lenin or other socialist big wigs have been removed from other former socialist cities yet this monument has remained. Attempts to move the monument after the fall of the Berlin Wall were resisted by locals and Marx monument continues as a symbol of the city to this day. He has been adopted by many an entrepreneurial type as the branding for t-shirts, replica statues and even chocolate. A modern day David for the hordes of tourists throughout the city.

IKEA and the German National Football Team

That old soviet symbol of Soviet industrial might, IKEA has even got in on the game donating €25,000 for the monument to be renovated. More recently Marx was even dressed up a supporter of the national football team during their successful bid for world cup greatness. Some residents, however, weren’t impressed believing such a stunt to be unbefitting the socialist philosopher.


[one_half]Opening Hours: Open all hours[/one_half][one_half_last]Address: Brückenstraße, 09111 Chemnitz, Germany[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Price: Free[/one_half][one_half_last]Website: n/a[/one_half_last]


Photo credit:  Photo 1 by motograf and photo 2 by gravitat-OFF.