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Vandalised! Karl Marx memorial in Highgate Cemetery ‘repeatedly smashed’

Marx Grave Trust: 'There's no doubt that it will be fixed - and I hope as soon as possible"

05 February, 2019 — By Tom Foot

The damage to the famous memorial

THE memorial to Karl Marx, and four other family members, has been vandalised in a “deliberate” political attack, according to the Friends of Highgate Cemetery.

Chief executive Dr Ian Dungavell said the attack, on Friday or Saturday, had targeted Marx’s name on a marble plaque set into the face of the famous monument.

It appeared to have been carried out with a “blunt metal instrument” that was “repeatedly smashed” into the memorial “again and again and again”, he said.

The Marx Grave Trust – based in Marx Memorial Library in Clerkenwell and responsible for maintaining the memorial – told the New Journal: “There’s no doubt that it will be fixed – and I hope as soon as possible.”

“People are horrified,” said Dr Dungavell. “I would say it was done by someone who is left-handed. They were aiming for the word Karl Marx itself. The head itself is difficult to reach.

It is particularly upsetting because it is a grave of of five people, and most of us would feel upset if their family graves had been attacked. It was clearly singled out because of Karl Marx. But also the sheer stupidity of it. It is such an inarticulate way to make a political point. It is just wrong-headed.”

The CNJ reported on the secret special branch files held on the bomb attack on Marx’s tomb in 1970s

Dr Dungavell said that “deliberate vandalism” was rare in the cemetery but over the years the memorial had been daubed with paint.

“In the last few years, it has been water-based emulsion,” he said.

“The most damaging attack was when they put a pipe bomb in it the 1970s – and tried to blow up the memorial. They were trying to saw off his  nose. We have had people dancing and chanting  around it.”

Dr Ian Dungavell

He said there had been 400 people in the cemetery on Sunday, adding: “Marx is a big attraction. It is hard not to recognise the impact he has. Whether you are socialist or not. He’s a figure of major international importance.”


The Marx Grave Trust, based  in Marx Memorial Library in Clerkenwell, is responsible for maintaining the memorial.

Trustee Simon Renton, one of the trustees of library, said: “Whether this is a sign of European wide rise of fascism it is hard to say. It is fair to say there is a crisis of ideas and ideology and politics at the moment.”

He added: “It is quite impossible to protect it, because of it’s size – you can’t put it behind a screen. But there’s no doubt  that it will be fixed – and I hope as soon as possible.”



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