Grave of Karl Marx attacked by “fascist vandal”
The grave of Karl Marx in London's Highgate Cemetery, engraved with the words, "Workers of all lands, Unite!" | Public Domain

LONDON—Custodians of London’s Highgate Cemetery say the tombstone of Karl Marx has been damaged in a hammer attack. The grave of Marx, whose works include The Communist Manifesto and Capital, draws tourists from around the world.

The German philosopher and economist was buried here after his death in 1883. The 12-foot tall granite monument, topped with a bronze bust of Marx, was built by the Communist Party of Great Britain after a fundraising campaign in 1956. It bears two of the most famous lines from Marx’s work: “Workers of all lands, unite!” and “Philosophers have only interpreted the world; the point is to change it.”

A blunt instrument, likely a hammer, was used to deface the original 1880s plaque from the Marx family’s earlier, simpler headstone that now makes up part of the larger memorial. | Highgate Cemetery via Twitter

It was the smaller 1880s inset marble plaque from the Marx family’s original tomb attached to the memorial that was damaged.

Ian Dungavell of the Friends of Highgate Cemetery Trust said the monument suffered a “deliberate and sustained attack.” Police said Tuesday they had investigated but closed the case without making any arrests.

Dungavell condemned the vandalism as “an appalling thing to do” and a “particularly inarticulate form of political comment.” He said the monument “will never be the same again” and “will bear those battle scars for the future.”

It is not the first time the Marx monument has been attacked. In the 1970s, it was the target of bombs, it has been painted with anti-Marxist slogans, and the Marx bust atop it was even pulled off once.

Dungavell criticized the attacker, saying, “It’s particularly naïve to think that by a few hammer blows, you’re going to encourage sympathy for anti-Marxist views.” The monument, he said, is “battle-scarred and has all the marks of a rich and varied life.”

Communist Party of Britain General Secretary Robert Griffiths remarked, “The ideas of Marx—like his plinth at Highgate—are powerful enough to outlast any damage done by a fascist vandal.

“The labor movement and the left in Britain, and internationally, must now ensure that the monument is fully restored as quickly as possible.”

This article combines material from The Associated Press, Morning Star, and other sources.


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