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Karl Marx' Making a Comeback in Germany -- In the Form of a Credit Card


“The last capitalist we hang shall be the one who sold us the rope.”

Imagine using a credit card emblazoned with the image of Karl Marx, a man who is known for saying things like:

“The last capitalist we hang shall be the one who sold us the rope.”

Marx is often credited with making that anti-capitalist statement. Curiously, it is his image that is the most popular one on a credit card from a German Bank.

Sparkasse Chemnitz Bank actually offered customers a choice of ten images they could put on their personal MasterCards. After the votes were counted, Marx's image was the clear winner. To be more accurate, Marx won by a landslide, easily beating out choices like a castle, a racetrack, and a palace.

How is this possible? Perhaps the location of the bank holds a clue. It happens to be in a part of the country that used to belong to the Communist state of East Germany. A report from Reuters quotes a 2008 survey that said a majority of Germans living in the eastern part of the country did not believe in the Free Market system.

"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," Reuters says.

But the popularity doesn't end there.

"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," bank spokesman Roger Wirtz told Reuters.

But Forbes writer Tim Worstall, who has worked in the region recently, says he's not convinced its a longing for the old system.

"As I say, my general impression is that people are quite happy to think of the past warmly, remember the good and gloss over the bad," he writes. "But almost no one actually wants to go back to anything like the old system. A Karl Marx credit card is a fun thing to have: the Stasi less so."

Still, there appear to be signs that some Germans still long for the days when Karl Marx's face adorned the 100-Mark notes. At least they can have him on their credit cards.

This story has been updated with additional information.

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