German President to Chinese students: Dictatorship in the name of Marxism had created havoc

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. (Photo courtesy: DE)
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. (Photo courtesy: DE)

(, Dec09, 2018) – Visiting German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has said both good and bad things about communism and the ideology’s propounder Karl Marx, with neither of them being favourable to Beijing, while speaking to Chinese students on Dec 7.

He said “havoc” was wrought in the name of Karl Marx in Germany and eastern Europe, but that the philosopher also stood for things like freedom of the press, said a Reuters report carried by the website Dec 7.

Though burgeoning with ever growing number of billionaires, resulting in more concentration of wealth in few hands, China still lauds Marx and in May President Xi Jinping said the decision of the ruling Communist Party to stick with his political theories remained “totally correct”, delivering a speech coinciding with the 200th anniversary of the German philosopher’s birth.

While noting that China had this year donated a big statue of the founding father of communism to his German birthplace of Trier, Steinmeier has told students at Sichuan University, “In this anniversary year, it seems to me that Germans and Chinese can have very different views not only of current issues, but also of the same historical and intellectual ideas.”

Steinmeier has said Marx was no doubt a great intellectual, an influential philosopher, economist, historian and sociologist, he was “rather less successful educator and workers’ leader”.

“However, there is also no doubt that Marx was a passionate humanist. He demanded freedom of the press, humane working conditions, universal education, political rights for women and environmental protection,” the president has said.

While not making any specific criticism of the Chinese government, Steinmeier has said, “We Germans cannot talk about Marx without also thinking of the havoc wrought in his name in eastern Germany and Europe – the depressing time of the Iron Curtain.”

As to what he meant by it, Steinmeier has said that during that time, Marxism was everything and the individual counted for nothing, families were torn apart, neighbours pitted against each other, and “people confined behind walls and people who attempted to flee murdered”. The people of China would be all too familiar with these things under the current communist party rule.

Recalling that Germany’s history was for many years marked by “dictatorship and repression”, Steinmeier has said, “This makes us particularly sensitive to and aware of what happens to those who do not share the prevailing opinion, belong to an ethnic minority, want to practise their religion or campaign non-violently and peacefully for their ideas and beliefs.”


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