CCTV Cameras Installed on London’s Karl Marx Grave to Stop Vandals

CCTV Cameras Installed on London's Karl Marx Grave to Stop Vandals

CCTV cameras have been installed above the London grave of Karl Marx to deter vandals who have carried out politically-motivated attacks on it.

The severe measure was taken as a last resort following significant damage to the grave at Highgate cemetery in the last year.

Vandals twice targeted the grave’s white marble plaque and it was daubed in blood red paint spelling out slogans such as ‘architect of genocide’.

Surveillance cameras have now been mounted on two trees overlooking the grade-I listed monument, which attracts thousands of visitors every year.

The defaced plaque, which sits below a bronze bust of the German philosopher, has been temporarily replaced for restoration and replaced with a copy.

The decision was taken by the Marx Grave Trust, which owns the monument, despite concerns that cameras would be intrusive due to recent burials close to the site.

The body is understood to have consulted security experts from Historic England, which is responsible for overseeing the country’s protected buildings.

It is the first of the cemetery’s 53,000 graves – including notable figures such as author Douglas Adams and novelist George Eliot – to be protected with cameras.

Ian Dungavell, head of the Friends of Highgate Cemetery Trust which runs the north London graveyard, said there were plans to put up notices alerting visitors to the cameras’ presence.

He told the Guardian: ‘They are discreet but not invisible and intended as a deterrent. If people are worried about the security of their graves we are always happy to accommodate them.’

The Trust has described the monument – a burial site for four Marx family members and their housekeeper – as a target for a ‘particularly inarticulate form of political comment’.

Marx’s book Das Kapital, first published in 1867, was the text that inspired Communist leaders such as Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin.

His works, including the Communist Manifesto, are considered by critics to have fuelled political tensions and conflicts throughout the 20th century.

The current tomb has repeatedly been targeted by vandals since its erection in 1956 and was damaged by a pipe bomb in 1970, blowing up part of Marx’s face.

The marble plaque, from Marx’s original 1883 gravestone with his wife Jenny von Westphalen, was struck with a hammer during an attack in January.

The incident left some of the plaque’s lettering severely damaged in an apparent attempt to remove Marx’s name.

Just weeks later, the plaque was once again targeted with a hammer and sprayed with red paint, saying ‘ideology of starving’ and ‘architect of genocide terror + oppression’.

Jean Seaton, director of the Orwell prize, told the Guardian: ‘He would find it funny that even a grave is now subject to surveillance.’

Scotland Yard opened inquiries into both incidents but have yet to charge anybody over the attacks.

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