Lonely Planet Writer

Karl Marx’s hometown stocks up on souvenirs for a mini tourist boom

In an ironic turn for the ages, the 200th birthday of the most famous figure in Communism, Karl Marx, is sparking memorabilia madness in his hometown of Trier in Germany.

Rubber duckies holding ‘Das Kapital’ are just one example of the Marxist mementos. Photo by Harald Tittel/Getty

Marx cemented his place in social history with his most famous publications The Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital, both blistering attacks on the capitalist system. Born on 5 May 1818, anniversary celebrations are being prepared to mark the event but it’s unlikely the man himself would approve of some of the souvenirs on offer.

The most famous is produced by Trier Tourism and is a special ‘zero-euro’ note emblazoned with an image of his face. At €3 a pop, it’s proving quite the money-spinner for the organisation which sold out of the initial run of 5000. A further 15,000 will be made available later this month and are available to pre-purchase on their website, with orders coming in from as far as the USA, Taiwan and Russia.

The banknote is deceptively realistic. Photo by Harald Tittel/Getty

The notes even feature authentic security features like watermarks, holograms, copper strips and individual serial numbers. If that’s not enough, you can also purchase Karl Marx magnets, mugs and cleaning cloths with the philosopher printed on it.

Souvenirs aren’t the only thing in line for big business for Marx’s anniversary. A huge bronze statue was erected in the town square last week in front of his former family home. It will be officially unveiled to the public on 5 May and the council said it hopes it will encourage discussion of his body of work.

The official unveiling takes place on 5 May. Photo by Harald Tittel/Getty

Meanwhile, the Karl Marx Haus is undergoing a renovation with a new permanent exhibition also due to open on 5 May. The exhibit promises to hold a little more to his ideals as it explore his ideas and their lasting impact to this day. But yes, they do charge (a very small price) for admission.

Elsewhere in the city, there are at least two sets of traffic lights that feature, instead of the traditional figurine, a glowing green Karl Marx walking with a book and with his arm outstretched when depicted fittingly in red.