Marx Engels Forum which hosts a statue of Marx and Engels is probably the best example of the famous pairing still standing. If you had to name Karl Marx a side kick then the first name that pops into your head is going to be his close friend and co-author Friedrich Engels. They are the Han Solo and Chewbacca of 19th Century revolutionary literature and together you will be sure to find these two hanging around the rather coincidentally named Marx Engels Forum in Berlin.
Arguably Two of the Most Important Figures in the History of the Political Left
The Marx Engels Forum is a stunning public square dotted with trees located within the Mitte district of Berlin. It was created by the then government of East Germany (GDR) in 1986. It was named after Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, co-authors of The Communist Manifesto of 1848 and arguably two of the most important figures in the history of the political left.
The main attractions in the park are the colossal bronze statues of a sitting Marx and a standing Engels. Just behind lies a wall depicting a number of scenes from the history of the German socialist movement after 1945.
A Long Wait for Marx Engels Forum to Begin
The Marx Engels Forum can be found on the eastern bank of the Spree river, less than five minutes walk from the famous Alexander Platz. Prior to World War II the area was a well populated area of the city of Berlin. However, it was heavily bombed during the Allied air raids on the city and the area was completely destroyed. Following the war a cleanup of the site was attempted and much of the ruins and debris were removed however due to a lack of funding nothing was built in it’s place.
It wasn’t until 1977 that the famed sculptor Ludwig Engelhardt was named as the director of the project and allowed to redevelop the site. It was decided that the site should be a tribute to Marx and Engels and the official inauguration took place in 1986.
A Storm in a Tea Cup
Following German reunification in 1990, the future of the Marx Engels Forum developed into something of a public controversy. On one side of the discussion some Berliners argued that the Forum and the statues were a unwarranted reminder of an oppressive former regime and argued in favour of removing the statues and renaming the area.
On the other side others argued that the site had great artistic, cultural and historical significance, and as such was worthy of preservation. To date the latter view has won out and in recent years the statues are a popular tourist attraction. The sitting Marx in particular has fallen victim to the selfie brigade suffering excessive discoloration to his knee from sitting posers. The monument is open all hours so acts of graffiti and nocturnal prank are also not unheard of.