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A Discarded Communist Statue From Ukraine Has a New Home in Manchester

Friedrich Engels now looks upon the city where he studied the working class.

A statue has been freshly erected in front of a theater in Manchester, England, but it’s certainly not new. The 12-foot, grim-faced statue of communist writer Friedrich Engels had languished, in pieces, in a Ukrainian field until May, when a British artist loaded it onto a truck and brought it to Manchester in time for an art festival.

Engels was born in Germany, but in 1842 he immigrated to Manchester, where he helped run his family’s cotton factory. His father had hoped a stint in industry would cure Engels of his radical liberal beliefs, but instead he used the time in Manchester to educate himself on the conditions of the working class. Before working with Karl Marx on The Communist Manifesto, Engels wrote The Condition of the Working Class in England, which was published in German in 1845 (an English translation wasn’t available until 1887).

When British visual artist Phil Collins (no, not that one) became interested in Engels’s time in Manchester, he decided to try to find a statue of the man. He spent about a year, reports The New York Times, searching Eastern Europe for a discarded monument. He eventually found one on a farm in eastern Ukraine. Once loaded onto a truck, the statue made its way through Europe, and even stopped in Engels’s hometown, Barmen, in what is now Wuppertal, Germany. The complete statue was unveiled at a film event on the closing night of the Manchester International Festival.