Some 550 streets, alleys and plazas in former communist East Germany bear the name of of the Communist Manifesto philosopher, according to Die Welt.
But the Economic Council of the CDU (Christian Democratic Union) believes it’s about time the country moved away from its Cold War past, as Bild first reported.
“More than a quarter of a century after the political and economic bankruptcy of the GDR [East Germany], it is time to part ways with communism’s replacement of saints in the streets,” general secretary for the CDU economic council Wolfgang Steiger told The Local in a statement on Thursday.
“I do not understand why some places today still have main streets named after him.”
The economic council is an organization of business professionals that works closely with the CDU party to represent the interests of entrepreneurs in economic policies.
Steiger went on to say that Marx and colleague Friedrich Engels “did nothing good with their ideology”.
“And the decaying last days of the GDR were proof of this,” he continued.
Instead, Steiger said that streets should more often be named after former West German Chancellor Ludwig Erhard, who in the 1960s was credited with leading the postwar economic recovery known as the “economic miracle”.
“After German reunification, along with the freedom and successful model of a social market economy that blossomed, these streets should be named after Ludwig Erhard, one after the other” Steiger said.
But Berlin Die Linke (Left Party) politician Katrin Lompscher laughed off Steiger’s suggestion, telling The Local that she couldn’t take his economic council’s idea seriously, politically speaking.
She also doubted whether many other people would support changing the names of Karl Marx streets.
“Marx was one of the most important philosophers, not only for Germany but also for humankind,” Lompscher said.
“He is indisputably a huge figure in history… this isn’t even a question and it’s not surprising that there are so many streets named after him.”
She added that people outside of Germany might associate his name with something negative because he was “not a friend of capitalism”, but that he was for many Germans what perhaps Abraham Lincoln or George Washington is for Americans.
“He analyzed systems and political formations, but he was not a violent revolutionary.”
East Germany is also dotted with the names of other prominent communists, like Engels, and Polish-born Rosa Luxemburg, who took part in a socialist uprising after the First World War and was killed by government paramilitaries.
There are also streets named for Ernst Thälmann, who helped organize the attempted Hamburg Uprising during the Weimar Republic. During the Second World War, he was arrested by the Gestapo and killed on Adolf Hitler’s orders.