We all have a secret in the family. Famous characters are no stranger to this rule. Karl Marx is the father of scientific socialism and modern communism. He was one of the most influential thinkers of all time. He was a philosopher, economist, sociologist and communist militant. He suffered persecutions and lived in poverty with his wife Jenny von Westphalen, with whom he had seven children. But a great secret was brought to the grave that was only revealed many years later: that of an extramarital child. This was Marx's secret.
A life of secrets
«Marx's first secret is that he had a son outside his marriage. The second, who had it with the girl who helped in the house (Helen Damuth or "Lenchen"). Third is that Friedrich Engels agreed to appear as the father of the child, ”says Samper Pizano, a Colombian journalist and writer. Engels was a relevant intellectual next to which Marx wrote several fundamental works for the birth of Marxism.
In 1851, Lenchen was pregnant. He had a baby named Frederick and gave it to a family to take care of him. But the story gets much more interesting when in a letter Marx tells Engels. «I must reveal a tragicomic mystery to you», according to Samper Pizano from the biography Karl Marx: an Intimate Biographyby Saul Padover. It was published in 1978.
The value of friendship
The mystery was really a request. In order for Marx to save his marriage, Engels, who was single, had to declare himself the father of Lenchen's baby. And Engels accepted, several biographies say about this.
«I think Engels thought: if I don't do it, this could end Marx's family. And he loved the family very much. It was not hard for him to do that for his friend who was like a brother, ”adds the Colombian author. Lenchen was not a simple maid of the Marx, but a governess and a person very close to the family.
«The proof is that she continued working on Marx's work. And helping Engels collect them when Marx was already dead, ”says the journalist. Marx's secret remained hidden for about four decades. It came to light after his death and that of his wife. It was revealed when Engels, on his deathbed, confessed it to Eleanor Marx, one of the daughters. The newspaper detailed it like this The New York Times in a 1983 article.
It is believed that Marx never met his son and that Frederick never knew who his father was. Like all secrets, sooner or later it would come to light. How many secrets are there in your family history, dear reader?