What to do With Karl Marx?
A 14 X 7 meter relief of Karl Marx which adorns the front of the University of Leipzig in Leipzig, Germany, must be removed by August 22 to make room for remodelling. The relief, titled "Aufbruch," ("Departure") but better known simply as "Marx-Relief" was built by the former DDR in honor of Marx 33 years ago. The townspeople are divided over what to do with it. Some, like university rector Franz Häuser, see it as possessing "strong symbolic value." The PDS, Germany's communist party, has requested that it be placed in another prominent location. Others, like the chairman of the local Youth Union, want to see it removed from sight forever.
The relief is symbolic of the dogmatism of Marxism-Leninism in the DDR and, along with that, for the restriction of science.
Author and honorary citizen of the city of Leipzig Erich Loest has a most poetic suggestion. To understand it, however, we must back up in time to 1968.

The Paulinerkirche stood before the University of Leipzig and looked down over a city square known as the "Karl Marx Platz." Construction had begun in 1228 and the church was first dedicated in 1240. It was a place of worship, community gathering and a burial site. Extensively renovated in 1900, it stood as a model of Gothic church architecture. It contained many historic and artistic artifacts, including a well-known organ. A place of God, however, could not be tolerated on the edge of the Karl Marx Platz.

So, on May 30, 1968 at 11AM, the church was destroyed. The decision was made May 23, with only one voice of dissent, a parish priest who noted that the Basilica stands untouched over Red Square. With only seven days to prepare for the demolition and concerns over what the SED would do, little was rescued from the church. Of that day, Erich Loest writes (my translation),

That was Leipzig's bitterest day since 1945. The SED with Paul Fröhlich and Ulbricht behind him, had decided to destroy the University Church. The reason was simple: On the Karl Marx Platz, no house of God could be tolerated.

Ironically, as the dust settled and the smoke cleared, Loest and other onlookers noted that now the tower of St. Nikolai was clearly visible. The rubble was cleared and piled at the edge of the city where it is now covered by a small hill with a small wooden cross which reads, "Paulinerkirche 1968."

Erich Loest would like to see the Karl Marx Relief destroyed as the church was and have its rubble deposited atop the church's on the outskirst of Leipzig. A fitting end to the city's great monument to marxist socialism.

As the dust settles, however, Marx's hold on German (and American) society will still be visible. Until we free our minds, Marx' "dogmatism" will remain.

The pictures of the Paulinerkirche are from the NPR website where you can also view video of the last mass held there and the destruction of the church.
The picture of the Karl Marx Relief and the information regarding it come from Spiegel. The article is in German.
The information regarding the Paulinerkirche is from Paulinerkirche.de. It also is in German.

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