‘Our children will decide for themselves how to treat Comrade Marx’: historians and local historians of Kazan dissatisfied with mayor’s office again

‘Our children will decide for themselves how to treat Comrade Marx’: historians and local historians of Kazan dissatisfied with mayor’s office again
Photo: realnoevremya.ru/Dinar Fatykhov

Karl Marx in the square of the Varvarinsky Church

As Realnoe Vremya wrote, the Kazan authorities are going to return the bust of the German philosopher and founder of communism, Karl Marx, to the streets of the city. The sculptural image was previously at the intersection of Peterburgskaya (formerly Sverdlov) and Artem Aydinov streets. It was installed back in 1949. The bust of the German philosopher stood on a pedestal of brownish-gray polished granite of cylindrical shape on a hexagonal base. On the front of the pedestal, there was an inscription covered with bronze paint: “K. Marx.” It was taken away for restoration back in 2005.

Last week, the Kazan City Hall announced a tender for the development of project documentation for the installation of the sculpture. They are going to spend 1,3 million rubles on this. The contractor of the tender is given only 10 months for engineering surveys and the development of scientific and design documentation, and the examination should take no more than 2 months.

The Committee of External Landscaping of Kazan noted that it is about the restoration of the old, not about the installation of a new monument. “It is planned to restore the bust with placement in the park near the Varvarinskaya Church," they said.

This is how the monument to Karl Marx looked before the restoration screenshot by realnoevremya.ru from the website of the Cultural Heritage Centre of Tatarstan

The bust on the pedestal will be located on a plot next to house No. 69b on Karl Marx Street. This is a green area between the Korston Hotel and the Varvarinsky Church. This was discussed at the mayor's office back in 2021. By the way, as they told Realnoe Vremya in the executive committee, the plans for the installation of the monument have not changed. Although before the restoration, it stood in another place of the city.

“We should love your old days”

Realnoe Vremya interviewed Kazan local historians about the return of the monument to Karl Marx. As local historian Leonid Abramov said, instead of a monument to city officials, it would be better to think about the return of the old name of the street Arskoe Pole. In his opinion: “we should love our antiquity, because the Arskoye Pole, like Bulak, Kabany, Tashayak, are the oldest toponyms.”

“In addition to Marx, I propose to erect monuments to Jung, Freud, and other remarkable philosophers. I think the initiators [of the bust's return] did not read either one, or the other, or the third," Abramov is indignant.

Updated monument to Lenin was opened in Kazan in 2021 realnoevremya.ru/Maxim Platonov

“It is possible to restore interesting mosaics and graffiti on the palaces of culture”

Local historian Mark Shishkin does not see logic in the return of the monument. In his opinion, on the contrary, there is a shortage of ideas in this.

“If it is being restored because there used to be a bust in another place, then let's remember that there was a church in the name of the Georgian Icon on Karl Marx Street, and there was the Kazakovskaya Mosque on Tatarstan Street and they were destroyed during the reign of Marxist ideology. Maybe we restore them?" the interlocutor of Realnoe Vremya wondered.

realnoevremya.ru/Roman Khasaev

Shishkin added: “If Kazan needs another object related to the Soviet period, then it is possible to restore interesting mosaics and graffiti on the palaces of culture, to put in order all the buildings in the style of constructivism and Stalinist neoclassicism. But it's impossible to look at some without tears.”

“If you need to create a semantic 'centre of gravity' in the area of the Varvarinsky Church, then you can remember that poet Nikolay Zabolotsky was baptised in this temple, that there was a Siberian outpost nearby, that academician Nechkina, a landmark figure for historical science in the USSR and the author of wonderful memories, spent her young years in the B building of the Kazan National Research Technological University (KNRTU) about Kazan. A lot can be done without Marx," concluded Mark Shishkin.

“There will always be dissatisfied, no matter what monument is restored”

But the author of the Telegram channel Architecturasy, Yan Gordeev, treats the return of the monument to Karl Marx positively. According to him, there is logic in that the bust will be installed on the street of the same name.

“This is a historical object, apart from Marx, it is a work of art. I liked the monument since my childhood, it used to stand on Peterburgskaya Street. It is impossible to return the monument there, so it will be installed in a small green area between the Varvarinsky Church and Korston. Previously, it was an unorganised square, but now it will be organised. Therefore, I treat this only positively," Gordeev said in a conversation with Realnoe Vremya.

realnoevremya.ru/Dinar Fatykhov

Our interlocutor stressed that Karl Marx is a great name, he was a great scientist, so there is no problem that a monument to him would appear, and there are no contradictions here. Gordeev added: “The monument has been talked about for a long time, this project is at least five years old. The project came to the public plane two years ago, now its implementation is beginning. I wouldn't associate it with politics or anything else. It's just how the gears of the city work, slowly but surely.”

“There will always be dissatisfied, no matter what monument is restored. If they erect a monument to Karl Marx, there will immediately be dissatisfied with why they did not install a monument to anyone else. The monument will be removed — a lot of dissatisfied people will also appear. This is a common process in a big city. There will always be disputes. It fills the city life. The news is good, God grant that it will be established, another square will appear in Kazan. And we, in the end, will not forget our own history," said Yan Gordeev.

“People's indignation is easy to explain”

Kazan local historian and author of the book “Kazan from the Tram Windows” Alexey Klochkov agreed with Gordeev that there will always be dissatisfied. But this is easily explained by that all people are different. As Klochkov said: “Someone has not yet departed from the USSR, someone, on the contrary, is in a hurry somewhere. People are different. One wants it that way, the other wants something else.”

“We are an amazing people in a broad sense, it's as if we are still fighting the revolution. It's been more than 100 years. That's why all this arises. The Chinese said that they have Mao Zedong, and that's it, he did 70% of the good and 30% of the bad, and that's it. I think we should learn from them. And our children will figure it out later," the local historian added.

realnoevremya.ru/Maxim Platonov

In his opinion, Karl Marx is a certain layer of our history, he is quite serious and deep. Therefore, we should be very careful not to offend anyone.

“I believe that history flows — and let it flow, everything will be solved by itself. We have already done things in the last 100 years, and I don't want to repeat all this. Let everything go as it goes, we have new districts and a bunch of other former heroes, after whom streets can be named. Our children will decide for themselves how to treat Comrade Marx," Klochkov said.

Artur Kazantsev