Two decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, some eastern Germans are once again carrying round images of Karl Marx – if only in their pockets.
The disappearance of communist former East Germany has not deterred them from using credit cards emblazoned with the image of the man who foretold the end of capitalism and the triumph of communism.
More than a third of customers at Sparkasse bank in Chemnitz opted for the picture of a bronze bust of the bearded 19th-century German-born philosopher, bank spokesman Roger Wirtz said.
Marx’s stern face is depicted gazing toward the logo of Mastercard.
Before the fall of the Berlin Wall, citizens of Chemnitz – then known as Karl-Marx-Stadt – and the rest of East Germany would have seen Marx’s face on their 100-Mark banknotes.
Flattened during the Second World War, Chemnitz was rebuilt as a model socialist city and still boasts a seven metre-tall bust of Marx in its centre. The city has been economically depressed since the end of communism and its population has shrunk by 20 per cent.
The east has witnessed a wave of nostalgia in recent years for aspects of the old East Germany, or DDR, where citizens had few freedoms but were guaranteed jobs and social welfare. The trend is not limited to the region.
“We’ve even received inquiries from clients in western German states asking whether they could open a local account with us to get a card bearing Marx’s features,” Sparkasse’s Mr. Wirtz told Reuters.
A 2008 survey found 52 per cent of eastern Germans believed the free market economy was “unsuitable” and 43 per cent said they wanted socialism back.