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German City Trier Braces For Protests On 200th Anniversary Of Karl Marx's Birth

A worker helps install a statue of German philosopher, economist, political theorist and sociologist Karl Marx in his hometown of Trier last month.

Police in the German city of Trier were bracing for hundreds of protesters to attend a celebration on May 5 marking the 200th birthday of its most controversial native: the father of communism, Karl Marx.

"We hope that anyone who wants to deal with the issue of Marx will do so in a civil way," city spokesman Michael Schmitz said on May 4. "If you want to criticize Marx, you are welcome to do so, but not with violence or destructive rage."

The festivities will kick off with a speech by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to around 1,000 guests, and the opening of three large exhibitions to the public.

The highlight of the event is expected to be the unveiling of a large statue of Marx funded by China. But the 5.5-meter statue is also expected to be the focal point of demonstrators protesting Beijing's alleged repression of rights and imprisonment of intellectuals.

The anti-migration Alternative for Germany (AfD) party is planning a silent march to remember the victims of communism. Supporters of the Falun Gong spiritual movement, which is banned in China, are also planning vigils.

Police expect a counterdemonstration to the AfD march. Meanwhile, a Marxist alliance is also planning a protest "against capitalism and exploitation."

"The large number of meetings and events poses a unique challenge," head of police Ralf Kraemer said.

In the center of Trier, the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate has set up a display in two museums of more than 400 exhibits illustrating "Karl Marx (1818-1883), Life, Work, Influence up to the Present."

There will also be exhibitions in the city's Cathedral Museum and in Karl Marx House, the place of his birth.

Based on reporting by dpa and AFP