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The Wall came down but Karl Marx lives on in Berlin

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The Wall came down but Karl Marx lives on in Berlin


“The philosophers have only interpreted the world in different ways. The point, however, is to change it!’

Twenty-five years after the fall of the Wall, Humboldt University in the former east Berlin still showcases Karl Marx’s famous quote – although “Marxism-Leninism” is not taught there anymore.

One of east Berlin’s main avenues still bears his name, and his statue. The buildings along Karl Marx allee, constructed in the so called “socialist classicist” style, were a flagship project for the regime, and the street was used as the main avenue for military parades.

Originally though it was called Stalin allee, and was only given Marx’s name in 1961 – the year the Wall was built through Berlin.

So do people remember Marx here?

“I’m from the east, everybody knows Marx here!” said a man on a bike.

“All the socialist societies in Asia have changed their systems, they don’t believe in it anymore,” said another cyclist.

“For me, what he wrote in Das Kapital (‘Capital’) is still valid today, when he quotes that as profit soars to several hundred percent people don’t stop at anything. Look at the banks today,” a woman added.

West Berlin too has its Karl Marx street, predating the east’s: the main road in the Neukölln district was named after the philosopher in 1947, right after the war, when the separation of the two Germanys was still in the making.

How do people in the west remember Karl Marx?

“Anti-capitalist, long hair, workers’ struggles!” joked a young man.

“Of course, I didn’t read him! His writings were taught as a separate subject in the east, so it can’t have been so easy,” an older man said.

Euronews correspondent in Berlin Olaf Bruns said:
“With the fall of the wall the country which claimed to have changed the world following Marx’s ideas disappeared as well. Twenty-five years later not only the philosophers but also Berlin’s people are wondering whether the world needs another change.”

Every story can be told in many ways: see the perspectives from Euronews journalists in our other language teams.

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