Saturday, 9 October 2021

dor nischl

The colossal stylised bust of philosopher and historian Karl Marx (previously) sculpted by Soviet realist Lev Efimovich Kerbel for the city formerly and presently known as Chemnitz (redesignated as Karl-Max-Stadt for the year of the revolutionary in 1953) was dedicated on this day in 1971 before an assembly of a quarter of a million attendees. The wall directly behind the visage and plinth is inscribed with the famous phrase from the Communist Manifesto “Workers of the World, unite!” in German, Russian, French and English by graphic artist Helmut Humann.  Locally referred to as the above Mitteldeutsch colloquialism for head or skull and used as a backdrop for much propaganda and pageantry under the East German government, the symbol was not without controversy, but was preserved while many other monuments to Soviet heroes and ideals were dismantled. After reunification, the city of Kรถln even offered to buy the head in order that it be saved from destruction, while residents were wrestling with the recent past and deciding to restore their city’s former name. Ultimately, it was decided to keep this and select vestiges of times past, which can still be a focus of the here and now.