Karl Marx

Karl Marx

Political theorist Karl Marx (1818-1883) was born in Trier, Germany. Although both his grandfathers were rabbis, Marx’s father converted his eight children to Protestantism in 1824. The young Marx later declared himself an atheist. As a student, Marx wanted to be a poet and dramatist. At the University of Berlin, he studied Hegelian philosophy and became interested in economics. While later living in Paris, he befriended Friedrich Engels, who supported him financially for the rest of his life. Together they published the Communist Manifesto in 1848, a radical criticism of the upper class and a call for the international cooperation of the proletariat. Following his expulsion from Brussels, Cologne, and Paris, Marx eventually settled in London. He lived there as a stateless exile until his death.

Although Marx’s own attitude toward Judaism has been characterized as ambivalent at best and hostile at worst, his books were burned in 1933 because of both his Jewish heritage and his socialist ideology. Marx was already named an ideological enemy in Hitler’s early writings. Unsurprisingly, he received special mention in a “fire oath” as promulgator of class conflict.

His books Das Kapital and The Communist Manifesto, blueprints for a Communist world order and among the most frequently translated German texts, were among those incinerated by the students.


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