Marx as a Migrant – A digital narrative

Karl Marx lived a long life as a migrant. Fleeing from the Prussian state, censorship and possible arrest, important stops on his journey were Paris, Brussels and London. These cities shaped his political activities, his engagement with political fellow-travellers, as well as his intellectual development and thus his entire work.

At the click of a mouse, you can follow Marx as a migrant from city to city. You can not only immerse yourself in his time, but also discover that even today, traces of his life and work continue to be seen in Paris, Brussels and London.

Each station takes about 45 minutes.


Marx as a Migrant

  • London
  • Hard Years in Dean Street

London, September 2017, Soho, Wardour Mews

A former administrative building, in the basement the Marx Walks guides prepare their tours. The upper floors are being renovated into a communal housing project with rehearsal rooms and space for political events. Progress is slow, there’s not enough money, and at the moment there’s no running water because construction work on offices across the street have damaged the water pipes.

Dean Street is only a five-minute walk away – the street where, in 1855, Karl Marx and his family are still living. Karl Marx must have taken this route hundreds of times, the ten-minute walk between the British Museum and Dean Street via Tottenham Court Road, along which the metal wheels of the horse-drawn omnibuses constantly clatter, through Soho Square and along Oxford Street – which was a shopping street even back then, when the first shops had large glass show windows installed in the 1840s. From Bloomsbury, the “intellectuals quarter”, to Soho, the district of workers, immigrants, pubs and pawnbrokers.

At this point, they have lived through years of “the most major and at the same time the pettiest concerns, anguish, disappointments, all sorts of deprivation”. In November 1850 their first son, Guido, died at just one year of age. After that, the family moved out of number 64 Dean Street and into number 28. Three cramped rooms, one for Karl and Jenny, one for the children and Helene Demuth, while the third functioned as Marx’s office.