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Marx-Engels-Forum

Marx-Engels-Forum

Marx-Engels-Forum is a public park in the centre of Berlin, the capital of Germany. It is named for Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, authors of The Communist Manifesto of 1848 and regarded as the founders of modern socialism. The park was created by the authorities of the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) in 1986.

Marx-Engels-Forum lies on the eastern bank of the River Spree. It is bound to the south-west by the river, to the north-west by Karl-Liebknecht-Straße, to the north-east by Spandauer Straße and to the south-east by Rathausstraße. Across the river it faces the site currently occupied by the Palast der Republik (now being demolished) and formerly occupied by the Berliner Stadtschloß.

Before World War II the area now occupied by Marx-Engels-Forum was a densely populated old town district lying between the river and Alexanderplatz, and a street called Heiligegeiststraße (Holy Ghost Street) ran across it between Kaiser-Wilhelm-Straße (now Karl-Liebknecht-Straße) and Rathausstraße. The area was heavily bombed during Allied air attacks in 1944 and 1945 and most of its buildings reduced to ruins. After the war the ruins were cleared but nothing replaced them

In 1977 the GDR authorities appointed the sculptor Ludwig Engelhardt director of the project to redevelop the site as a tribute to Marx and Engels, the founders of the communist movement to whose ideology the GDR was dedicated. It consists of a rectangular wooded park with a large, circular paved area in the centre. In the middle of this stands a sculpture by Engelhardt, consisting of larger-than-life bronze figures of Marx (sitting) and Engels (standing). Behind the statues is a relief wall showing scenes from the history of the German socialist movement.

After German reunification in 1990 the future of the Marx-Engels Forum became the subject of public controversy. Some Berliners saw the Forum as an unwanted relic of a defunct regime which they opposed, and argued for the removal of the statues and renaming of the park. Others argued that the site had both artistic and historical significance, and should be preserved. The latter view eventually prevailed, assisted by the generally left-wing tone of Berlin politics. The statues are now a tourist attraction, and a steady stream of people sit on Marx's knee to have their photos taken.

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