Karl Marx pride of the city: mayor of thinker's hometown Trier

Updated 2018-05-04 09:42:04 Xinhua

Photo taken on May 3, 2018 shows the entrance of the exhibition "Karl Marx 1818-1883. Life. Work. Time." in the City Museum Simeonstift Trier in Trier, Germany. (Xinhua/Shan Yuqi)

"Karl Marx is the pride of Trier!" Mayor Wolfram Leibe told Xinhua ahead of the upcoming celebrations of the 200th birthday of the thinker, which falls on Saturday.

Marx was born in Trier on May 5, 1818 and spent his first 17 years here.

After the 2008 global financial crisis, there is renewed interest in Karl Marx's works and Marxist theory in the Western World, including in the southwestern German small city Trier. Leibe was quite proud of being a mayor of Marx' hometown and he heard more frequently that people talked about Marx.

"Trier is a very conservative city, but people here started to think about Marx's ideas and what on earth he wrote about. People are interested in Marx again, including his personal experience," said Leibe.

Besides his analysis of economic crisis, Marx's focus on social injustice is still influencing the world, according to the mayor.

"In my opinion, labor is the most important concept in Marx's ideas. Upon labor his ideas were developed and later trade unions were established. It was Marx that started the process," said Leibe. "I believe that the spirit of Marx's ideas is to achieve social justice. His words that impressed me the most, is what he wrote in Communist Manifesto: Proletarians of all countries, unite!"

Leibe said he believed that the unique historical and cultural environment of Trier helped shape the values of young Marx, and influenced his ideas in the future.

Trier is one of the oldest cities in Germany, with a history dating back to the ancient Roman times. The city belonged to France before Marx was born and later was annexed by Prussia.

Aiming to become a lawyer in a Catholic-dominant society, Marx's father Heinrich, who was born in a Jewish family, converted to Christianity in the new Prussian city, but the family was still the minority of the society.

Within this environment, Marx was from his childhood influenced by diverse cultures and thoughts, which, some people believed, helped him learn from different cultures and develop his own theory.

According to Leibe, the environment also gave Marx a "very international" vision, and he did become an internationalized person, which was rare at that time.

In addition, at Marx's times most of Trier's 10,000 plus citizen lived in poverty. Although Marx was born in a prominent Jewish family, the gap between the rich and poor made Marx think about social injustice in his childhood.

Since last year, Trier has been preparing for the event marking Marx's 200th birthday. The house where he was born, now the Karl Marx House museum, will reopen on Saturday after renovation, and major exhibitions sponsored by Trier and the Rhineland-Pfalz State will also kick off on that day.

"It will be a festival for all citizens!" said Leibe. Over 300 events will be held in the coming months, including symposiums, book-reading events, film-watching events and concerts. Those events are sponsored by the federal government, the state government and also the city government.

"There are different ruling parties from federal to city governments. But they all sponsor, because Karl Marx was for all the people. They belonged to the overall society," Leibe said.

Leibe added that the whole city is looking forward to the official unveiling of the 5.5-meter-tall Karl Marx statue, created by Chinese artist Wu Weishan, as a gift from China.

"We all like this gift," said Leibe, "It's a nice symbol for Marx's birthday."

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