Celebrating Karl Marx’s 200th birth anniversary divides Germany once again
His motherland remains divided over him and it showed when Germany observed the 200th birth anniversary of Karl Marx (1818-1883), arguably history's most revolutionary philosopher who influenced world and national politics even centuries after his death.
Particularly in Germany, Marx is seen as a divisive figure even after 30 years have passed since the fall of the Berlin Wall - a cruel symbol of the Cold War 'fought' between two nonconformist ideological camps.
In Trier, Marx's birth place in Germany, commemorations were held as tribute to the man who officials called "great son of the city" and 600 events were planned to mark his birthday. A major attraction of the celebrations was unveiling of an 18-foot statue of the man which was gifted by China and it sparked a controversy.
It was reported by AFP that a body representing victims of communist 'tyranny' protested against the move to unveil the statue of Marx for they believed it was him who was responsible for encouraging Stalinist regimes that led to deaths of millions.
"We want to protest loudly against the unveiling of the Marx statue and raise our voices against the glorification of Marxism," AFP quoted Dieter Dombrowski, president of the Union of the Victim Groups of Communist Tyranny, as saying. He felt the decision to accept the statue as a gift from China was "disrespectful and inhuman".
Politically, too, there was disapproval. Alternative for Germany - a far-right party which has a strong support in the states of former East Germany which had gone under the Socialist Bloc in the post-World War II period, called for a silent march in Trier demanding toppling of the bronze statue.
Trier's mayor Wolfram Leibe said in the defence of accepting and unveiling the statue that historical controversies should be acknowledged, a Reuters report added.
"In Germany, we have this situation again and again with difficult, complex personalities of history - we want to hide them in the woods," Reuters quoted Leibe as saying. "So it was a conscious act to bring Karl Marx into the city... We don't have to hide him," he added, as per the report.
Trier's city council accepted the gift from China in March 2017 by a 42-7 vote. However, the fact that the gift was accepted from a country which has a dubious human rights record was also not received well by many.