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Karl Marx memorial at Highgate Cemetery defaced for second time in weeks – and plaque is now ‘unfixable’

PUBLISHED: 16:03 16 February 2019 | UPDATED: 17:24 16 February 2019

Karl Marx's memorial in Highgate Cemetery has been vandalised for the second time this month. Picture: Highgate Cemetery

Karl Marx's memorial in Highgate Cemetery has been vandalised for the second time this month. Picture: Highgate Cemetery

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Karl Marx’s memorial at Highgate Cemetery has been desecrated for the second time this month in a “senseless” act of vandalism.

The marble tablet bearing Karl Marx's name has been targeted again, with vandals smashing his name from it. Picture: Highgate CemeteryThe marble tablet bearing Karl Marx's name has been targeted again, with vandals smashing his name from it. Picture: Highgate Cemetery

Volunteers arrived on Saturday morning to see the marble plaque bearing the philosopher and his wife’s names smashed up and graffiti in red paint covering the memorial.

The slogans include “memorial to bolshevik HOLOCAUST 1917-1953, 66,000,000 DEAD [sic],” on the front, with one side now reading “ideology of starving” and the other having “doctrine of hate”.

The back has also been damaged, with “architect of Genocide terror + oppression MASS MURDER” painted on it.

The memorial tablet bearing Marx and Jenny von Westphalen’s names looks to have been targeted, with Marx’s name hammered off.

Vandals have daubed paint all over Karl Marx's grave in Highgate Cemetery. Picture: Highgate CemeteryVandals have daubed paint all over Karl Marx's grave in Highgate Cemetery. Picture: Highgate Cemetery

Cemetery director Ian Dungavell was among those who was scrubbing off the paint this morning. He said the damage to the tablet was a “senseless, crazy thing to do”.

“It’s a physical link between Marx’s original grave and this one, and it’s been pretty much smashed up,” he said. “When they put up the grave in 1956, they incorporated that original tablet. It’s a job for a expert stone conservator, but it looks unfixable.

“The paint looks to be water-based, and will come off quite easily as it’s on quite hard Cornish granite so shouldn’t damage the memorial.”

He said he had no idea who could have been responsible, and the cemetery hasn’t received any threats against the grave. “But this isn’t the first time it’s happened and there’s no sign it’s part of a trend,” he said.

A fragment of the marble tablet which was attacked. Picture: Highgate CemeteryA fragment of the marble tablet which was attacked. Picture: Highgate Cemetery

Dr Dungavell also said the cemetery would be looking at further security measures, but it’s difficult to police due to its size. “If you put CCTV in, they just come back with hoodies on. It’s a 20-acre site on two sides of the road surrounded by Victorian railings.”

The Marx Grave Trust, which is responsible for the memorial to Marx and his late wife, has been notified about the damage.

The memorial was previously attacked during the first weekend of February, with someone – possibly left-handed, according to Dr Dungavell – chipping away at Marx’s name with a “metal implement”.

It was unveiled in 1956 at the cemetery in Swain’s Lane.

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