Karl Marx Street in Saarbrücken

As a former working-class city, Saarbrücken is one of the few cities in the western part of Germany that has a street named after Karl Marx (1818-1883), the founder of scientific socialism and author of Das Kapital.

Marx was born in Trier, which is a hundred or so kilometers downstream from Saarbrücken, just past the place where the Saar River flows into the Mosel.

As you can see from my photo, the Karl-Marx-Straße in Saarbrücken is not a particularly glamorous street, even though the young lady is doing her best to feel glamorous in her new underwear. (On the poster there are two young ladies, but I think they are both the same person, with the same photo of her just flipped for symmetry.)

French cigarettes are being advertised on the left, and the cigarette machine on the right is — typically for the 20th and early 21st centuries — mounted low to the ground so that even small children would not have to stand on tiptoes to become addicted.

After a bitter political struggle, a new German law finally went into effect in 2007, requiring buyers to insert a card proving they are at least eighteen before they are allowed to buy cigarettes from a vending machine.

As I have mentioned in my Tauberrettersheim post, it is not clear whether this new law has effectively reduced the number of young smokers, since the tobacco industry is still doing everything in its power to get children and teenagers addicted. Statistics from the German Cancer Society show that people who have not started smoking by age 20 have a good chance of remaining non-smokers for the rest of their lives. And of course living longer than those who smoke.

Karl Marx, by the way, was “an excessive smoker of cigars from his student time until his death,“ according to a letter in the British Journal of Dermatology from July 2008. This letter includes a quotation from Franz Mehring, one of Marx’s biographers: “He was accustomed to say jokingly that his ‘Capital’ would not bring him in sufficient to pay for the cigars he had smoked whilst writing it. During the long years of poverty he undoubtedly had to put up with many inferior brands and, as a result, his passion for smoking certainly did his health no good, in fact, his doctor prohibited smoking on a number of occasions.”

My photo in this post is from 2006. I revised the text in 2023.

See more posts on the city of Saarbrücken, Germany.

6 thoughts on “Karl Marx Street in Saarbrücken”

    1. No, smoking has been prohibited in indoor public spaces for a number of years now. I forget when the change went into effect, but it was a great improvement in our quality of life. Also, the trains no longer have smoking cars.

  1. I remember seeing the vending machines when I first moved to Germany and being quite taken aback by them. The British health authorities were pushing a tougher anti-smoking line then, so it felt like a step back.

    I see a lot of young folk vaping now, so the card machine may be less popular but the health issue remains!

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