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Let’s Name Everything After Marx

Since 1945 the city of Leipzig, in what was then East Germany, has had strong association with the German philosopher Karl Marx. Following the Second World War one of the main squares, Augustus Platz was renamed Karl Marx Platz. While this was something of a common act for streets and squares across the newly formed East Germany the attempts didn’t stop there.

The trend of naming everything after Marx was continued when a new university campus was built on the same site and named after political philosopher. The university later decided to commission an artistic piece, celebrating Marx and his ideology which was to be displayed on campus. To this end in March 1970 a competition was begun looking to find someone to design a piece of work which was to be placed on the side of a building to the west of Karl Marx Platz.

14.4 m Long, 6 m Tall, 3 m Deep and 33 tons

In the end the winner of the competition was a young artistic collective made up of the artists Klaus Schwabe, Frank Ruddigkeit and Rolf Kuhrt. The Marx relief took more than three years to design and build with the result, a 14.4 m long, 6 m tall and 3 m deep relief, being unveiled on October 5, 1974, two days before the 25th anniversary of the GDR.

Weighting in at a colossal 33 tons, the relief depicted the German workers uniting and struggling toward revolution. The face of Marx can be seen among a number of other figures of workers expressing the numerous different attitudes of the revolution.

To Tear down or Not to Tear Down

With the fall of the communist regime in East Germany came a great deal of local discussion about the relevance and symbolism of the Marx relief. The decision was eventually  taken in 1991 for it’s removal from the campus.

The structure was dismantled and moved into a storage warehouse.  Here it remained for 17 years until 2008 when the then dean of Leipzig University, Franz Hauser, announced that the bronze metalwork would be reinstalled. The relief is now accompanied by a informative plaque detailing the impact that Marx has had on political thought, for both for the good and the bad.


[one_half]Opening Hours: Open all hours[/one_half][one_half_last]Address: Jahnallee, Leipzig, Germany[/one_half_last]

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


Photo credit:  Photo 1 by Geisler Martin