The lights were installed on Monday, slightly shy of the 200th anniversary of Marx's birth on May 5th, 1818. With a modern twist, they were installed with LED technology, with the figure of Marx stencilled in the light with lasers.
“It’s a beautiful symbol and the city is showing its flags for Marx,” said Trier mayor Wolfram Leibe, who commissioned the first light installation.
Another traffic light is slated to be installed before Easter weekend at the Karl Marx House, where the communist philosopher was born. During anti-communist times, Trier stayed largely mum about Marx, but today the philosopher is a top tourist draw to the city.
The famed intellectual spent his first 17 years in Trier, a Roman-ruin filled university town on the banks of the Moselle river in western Germany. Along with co-author Friedrich Engels, he wrote The Communist Manifesto in 1848, which today remains a core political text on class struggles.
One of its most famous lines, “Workers of the world, unite!” was used as an official slogan of all former Soviet Republics, translated into their local languages. It remains a rallying cry by some current communist oranizations, as well as labour organisations during protests.
The anniversary of Marx’s birth has not come without controversy, as Trier was criticized last year when it accepted a bronze statue of him from the communist Chinese government. The figure is set to be erected close to the traffic light on May 5th.