By Tom Barfield | 20 June 2020
AFP (YAHOO! NEWS) — A divisive new monument to Soviet leader Lenin was unveiled in Germany on Saturday, in the middle of a global row over the controversial background of historical figures immortalised as statues.
More than 30 years after the post-World War II communist experiment on German soil ended, the tiny Marxist-Leninist Party of Germany (MLPD) installed Lenin’s likeness in the western city of Gelsenkirchen.
A few hundred gathered for the ceremony, marked by fluttering red flags and the smell of grilled sausages.
“Criticism of capitalism and the search for social alternatives is everywhere. We’re criticising that there’s no public discussion of socialism as an alternative,” MLPD chair Gabi Fechtner said.
The MLPD says it is the first such statue ever to be erected on the territory of the former West Germany, decades after the eastern German Democratic Republic communist state collapsed along with its deadly Berlin Wall and Stasi secret police.
“The time for monuments to racists, anti-Semites, fascists, anti-communists and other relics of the past has clearly passed,” said Fechtner in an earlier statement.
“Lenin was an ahead-of-his-time thinker of world-historical importance, an early fighter for freedom and democracy.”
Not everyone in Gelsenkirchen, a centre of the former industrial and mining powerhouse Ruhr region, has welcomed the over two-metre (6.5 feet) likeness, produced in former Czechoslovakia in 1957.
“Lenin stands for violence, repression, terrorism and horrific human suffering,” representatives from mainstream parties on the district council in Gelsenkirchen-West said in a resolution passed in early March.
The council “will not tolerate such an anti-democratic symbol in its district,” it added, urging “all legal means” be used to block its installation.
But later in March the upper state court in Muenster rejected an attempt to stop the statue that it argued would impact a historic building on the same site.
The MLPD trumpeted interest from as far away as Russia, but urged guests to maintain social distancing and wear nose and mouth coverings against coronavirus infection. […]