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Letter from Chemnitz

I’ve always wanted to visit Karl Marx Stadt. Twenty years after it disappeared, I finally did

By William Cook   July 2010

Whatever happened to Karl Marx Stadt? In my childhood the East German city had the strangest name on the map of Europe. Was it as bleak as it sounded? Did you have to be a Marxist to live there? If you visited, would they let you out again? I longed to go, but then the Berlin wall came down and Karl Marx Stadt disappeared.

The city didn’t really disappear, of course, but its inhabitants voted to restore its original name, Chemnitz. Now, 20 years after reunification, I went to see what had happened to this workers’ paradise.

Before the…

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