Walk down the Rue Jean d’Ardenne in Brussels and you come to a house with a plaque. It tells you that Karl Marx lived here from 1846 to 1848. Not in this very house, but in a more modest house that was torn down in 1911. The street was called Rue d’Orléans at the time.
He lived here with his wife Jenny Von Westphalen and their two daughters. They also had a servant. How very bourgeois, you might think. In January 1848, Marx began writing a book that would change the world. It carried the unpromising title ‘Manifest der kommunistischen Partei’.
It was a thin book, hardly more than a pamphlet, barely 30 pages long, but one of history’s persistent lessons is that thin books can be the most dangerous. This one sparked off a workers’ revolution that eventually changed the world.
Marx didn’t complete the book in Brussels. He was expelled from Belgium in March 1848. The book was published in London. But the revolution that changed the world started here, in a quiet street in Brussels.
Derek Blyth’s hidden secret of the day: Derek Blyth is the author of the bestselling “The 500 Hidden Secrets of Belgium”. He picks out one of his favourite hidden secrets for The Brussels Times every day.