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
  • Regular at the Pawnbroker’s

A Regular at the Pawnbroker’s

At the end of the 1850s and early 1860s, Marx again faces serious money problems. The global economic crisis does not herald the longed-for revolution, but instead reaches Marx personally. Beginning in 1857, the “New York Daily Tribune” only pays him for one article a week. His income is halved, and in 1862 the collaboration comes to an end completely.

Marx runs up debts with “the baker, the milk supplier, the greengrocer, the butcher”, he can’t pay his taxes, school money, the rent or for coal. Jewellery, crockery and toys, clothes and shoes regularly make their way to the pawnbroker’s once again. During these years Marx’s wife struggles with depression. In 1860, she falls critically ill with smallpox. Their daughter Jenny is placed under medical supervision for wasting syndrome, and her sister Eleanor comes down with whooping cough.

Karl Marx sometimes pawns his frock coat, his overcoat, for food money. But without a coat he is not considered respectable enough to be allowed into the British Museum – and without access to the material there, he cannot work.