Tomb of Karl Marx
Karlmarxtomb.jpg
ArtistLaurence Bradshaw
Completion date1956
TypeSculpture
MediumBronze
SubjectKarl Marx
Dimensions3.7 m (12 ft)
LocationHighgate Cemetery
London, N6
Coordinates51°33′58″N 0°08′38″W / 51.5662°N 0.1439°W / 51.5662; -0.1439Coordinates: 51°33′58″N 0°08′38″W / 51.5662°N 0.1439°W / 51.5662; -0.1439
Listed Building – Grade I
Official nameTomb of Karl Marx and family
Designated14 May 1974
Reference no.1378872

The Tomb of Karl Marx stands in the Eastern cemetery of Highgate Cemetery, north London, England. It commemorates the burial sites of Marx, of his wife, Jenny von Westphalen, and other members of his family. Originally buried in a different part of the Eastern cemetery, the bodies were disinterred and reburied at their present location in 1954. The tomb was designed by Laurence Bradshaw and was unveiled in 1956, in a ceremony led by Harry Pollitt, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Great Britain, which funded the memorial. The tomb consists of a large bust of Marx in bronze set on a marble pedestal. The pedestal is inscribed with quotes from Marx's works including, on the front, the final words of The Communist Manifesto, "Workers of all lands unite". Since its construction, the tomb has become a place of pilgrimage for followers of Marxist theory. It has also been a target for Marx's opponents, suffering vandalism, and two bomb attacks in the 1970s. It is a Grade I listed structure, the highest listing reserved for buildings and structures of "exceptional interest".

History

Marx moved to London as a political exile in June 1849.[1] Living originally in Soho, he moved in 1875 to Maitland Park Road, in the north London area of Belsize Park, and this remained his home until his death in 1883.[2] During this period, Marx wrote some of his most notable works, including The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon[3] and Das Kapital.[4] Throughout his time in London, Marx lived in financially straightened circumstances and was heavily reliant on the support of his friend and collaborator Friedrich Engels.[5] Marx died on the afternoon of 14 March 1883 from a combination of bronchitis and pleurisy, exacerbated by an abscess on his lung.[6] He was buried on the following Saturday, at Highgate Cemetery,[7] in the grave prepared for his wife who had died eighteen months previously. Engels spoke the eulogy at the funeral.[8]

In 1954, the Marx Memorial Committee, with the agreement of Frederick Longuet and Robert-Jean Longuet, Marx's great-grandsons, applied to the Home Office for an exhumation licence allowing the bodies of Marx, his wife, other family members and the Marxs’ housekeeper Helene Demuth to be disinterred and reburied at a new site, some 100 yards from the original graves.[9] The reburials took place during the night of 26/27 November 1954.[10] The reburials were the precursor to the construction of the Karl Marx tomb, designed by Laurence Bradshaw[11] and funded by the Communist Party of Great Britain.[12] The unveiling ceremony on 15 March 1956 was led by the Party's General Secretary, Harry Pollit.[9]

Since its construction, the tomb has become a place of veneration for Marx's followers,[13] including some, such as the anti-apartheid activist Yusuf Dadoo and the founder of the Notting Hill Carnival Claudia Jones, who have been buried nearby.[14]

The tomb is maintained by the Friends of Highgate Cemetery Trust, a charity which acquired ownership of the cemetery in 1975.[15] The trust's policy of charging an entrance fee to the cemetery, to cover the costs of upkeep and maintenance, has generated some controversy.[16][17] Marx's grave is among the most visited sites at Highgate and has been described as "one of the most recognisable graves in the world".[18]

Architecture and description

The tomb of Karl Marx: detailed view of the central panel which formed the original gravestone

The tomb was designed by Laurence Bradshaw, an artist, sculptor and a member of the Communist Party since the 1930s. On obtaining the commission, Bradshaw wrote that the challenge was to create, "not a monument to a man only but to a great mind and a great philosopher".[19] The tomb comprises a large bronze bust of Marx's head and shoulders, set on a marble plinth.[20] Bradshaw was responsible for the entire design, including the choice of inscribed texts, and their calligraphy. The texts on the front of the memorial are the closing words of The Communist Manifesto, "Workers of all lands unite", and those which conclude the Theses on Feuerbach, "The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it". The sides of the memorial each have three projecting lugs, the top two of which support sculpted wreaths.[21] A central panel records the dates of the births and deaths of Marx, of his wife, of their daughter Eleanor, of their grandson Harry Longuet and of their housekeeper Helene Demuth.[22]

Pevsner, which records the pedestal as being constructed "of granite", describes the head as "colossal".[23] Bradshaw wrote that he wanted the bust to convey the "dynamic force of [Marx's] intellect" and for it to appear at eye-level rather than "towering over the people".[22] The architectural writer Clive Aslet considers the tomb "overwheening" and "the least aesthetically pleasing" monument in Highate Cemetery.[12] The tomb was listed in 1974, and its designation raised to the highest grade, Grade I, in 1999.[24]

Vandalism

In 1960, someone painted a pair of yellow swastikas on the tomb, as well as slogans in German supporting Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann, who was then in custody in Israel.[25] The tomb was the subject of two bombing attempts in the 1970s.[26] The tomb was daubed in blue paint in 2011, but no lasting damage was done to it.[27] In February 2019, it was discovered that the marble plaque from the original grave was damaged in an attack "seemingly with a hammer".[28][29] A few days later, the monument was vandalised again, the attacker daubing it with the words “doctrine of hate” and “architect of genocide” in red paint.[30]

Notes

  1. ^ "MARX, Karl (1818–1883) – English Heritage". www.english-heritage.org.uk. Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  2. ^ "Karl Marx – NW3". London Remembers. Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  3. ^ Noble, Barnes &. "18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte". Barnes & Noble. Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  4. ^ "Das Kapital – Description & Facts". Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  5. ^ "Friedrich Engels – German philosopher". Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  6. ^ "Karl Marx – Biography, Books, Theory, & Facts – Last years". Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  7. ^ "BBC – History – Historic Figures: Karl Marx (1818–1883)". Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  8. ^ "Karl Marx – Died in London on 14 March 1883". Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  9. ^ a b Staff, From Our London (15 March 2016). "Marx monument unveiled in Highgate cemetery – archive, 15 March 1956". Retrieved 7 January 2018 – via www.theguardian.com.
  10. ^ "Secret Re-burial Of Karl Marx In London". 27 November 1954. p. 1. Retrieved 7 January 2018 – via Trove.
  11. ^ Stuff, Good. "Tomb of Karl Marx and Family in Highgate (Eastern) Cemetry, Camden, London". www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk. Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  12. ^ a b Aslet 2005, pp. 150–151.
  13. ^ "London Journal; In Highgate Cemetery, Marx Is Safe on a Pedestal". The New York Times. 14 March 1990.
  14. ^ "East Cemetery – Highgate Cemetery". highgatecemetery.org. Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  15. ^ "About – Highgate Cemetery". highgatecemetery.org.
  16. ^ "It costs $6 to visit Karl Marx's grave".
  17. ^ Pinsker, Joe. "Somehow, Karl Marx's Resting Place Has an Entry Fee".
  18. ^ King, Jon. "BBC Radio 3 to broadcast programme about Highgate Cemetery's 'most recognisable grave'".
  19. ^ "Bradshaw Laurence". www.grahamstevenson.me.uk.
  20. ^ Historic England. "TOMB OF KARL MARX AND FAMILY IN HIGHGATE (EASTERN) CEMETRY, Camden (1378872)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  21. ^ Historic England. "TOMB OF KARL MARX AND FAMILY IN HIGHGATE (EASTERN) CEMETRY, Camden (1378872)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2018-01-07.
  22. ^ a b "Karl Marx's Grave, Highgate Cemetery, London". Victorianweb.org. 2013-08-01. Retrieved 2018-01-07.
  23. ^ Cherry & Pevsner 2002, p. 354.
  24. ^ Historic England. "TOMB OF KARL MARX AND FAMILY IN HIGHGATE (EASTERN) CEMETRY, Camden (1378872)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  25. ^ Miller, Sam (June 6, 2019). "Karl Marx Isn't Buried". Jacobin. Retrieved March 8, 2019.
  26. ^ Wittenberg, Daniel. "Shining a light on the history of Highgate cemetery's Karl Marx memorial". Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  27. ^ Ferguson, by Kate. "Labour grandee Tony Benn 'saddened' as vandals attack Marx's Highgate grave".
  28. ^ "Karl Marx monument 'mindlessly' attacked". BBC News. 5 February 2019.
  29. ^ "Karl Marx's London grave vandalised in suspected hammer attack". The Guardian. 5 February 2019. Retrieved 8 February 2019.
  30. ^ "Karl Marx's London memorial vandalised for second time". The Guardian. 16 February 2019.

Sources

External links

  • Media related to Karl Marx grave at Wikimedia Commons
  • Pathé News footage of the original grave
  • Pathé News footage of Nikolai Bulganin and Nikita Khrushchev laying wreaths at the tomb in a ceremony in 1956