History Books Deleted Marx’s Illegitimate Child Print
Kaleidoscope
China Uncensored   

As the founder of “communist doctrine”, and a ‘godlike’ figure, Karl Marx’s personal biography is extremely important to communists. But the personal life of Marx was very different from his depiction of how the world should be.

During the translation of the Biography of Marx the section about Marx’s illegitimate child was deleted from the Soviet and Chinese versions. As a result the older generation of Marxist revolutionaries only knew of the romance Marx shared with his wife Johanna. They had no idea that Marx concealed the private affair he had with his housekeeper. An affair which resulted in her giving birth to a boy in June 1851.

It is well known that Marx, the founder of the communist movement, abhorred the exploitation of the working class. Yet there was one laborer who did not even receive minimum remuneration. This type of laborer was not recorded in the British museum, didn’t work in Silesia’s mines, or in England’s cotton mills. This laborer was not even present in his Das Kapital. This laborer was in his home.    

The picture that helped the Chinese Communist Party to keep millions of Chinese fighting each other since 1949.

The Chinese characters at bottom: Long live the spirits of Marx and Lenin; long live the spirit of Mao Zedong.(screenshot)

Every time Marx and his family took a walk in London or picnicked with friends in sunny weather, a strong female servant always followed behind them. She carried a heavy basket filled with food and carried a knapsack filled with cups and plates. She had to serve the food and drink when they reached their destination and tidy up when everyone was finished.

She was Helen Demuth. Marx and his family called her Lenchen. She was from a poor peasant family, and from a young age was a servant at Marx’s father-in-law’s home. When Johanna and Karl Marx were married she was given to him as part of a dowry. Marx did not decline this live gift, and he actually accepted it without question. Historically he thought that to employ physical labor was evil, but it seems he thought he deserved the devotion at no charge.

Marx’s whole family completely trusted this female servant. Besides letting her manage the daily household chores, she also looked after their financial affairs. Lenchen managed the entire family’s clothes and meals during the daytime, and at night she had to oversee their expenses. In regards to her master’s children, she thought of them as her own.

However Lenchen’s devotion to Marx exceeded that of caretaker of household duties and financial affairs. In 1850 Lenchen became pregnant. When the child was born Marx convinced Friedrich Engels, his loyal battle companion, to take care of this responsibility. Marx needed to be able to state very clearly the whys and wherefores regarding this child; he must not let anyone think Lenchen’s child was illegitimate. In that way there would be no disgrace to him or the woman who took care of his home and finances.

Friedrich Engels was an ideal choice because he was frequently in and out of the Marx home and was also a bachelor. This infant was named Henry Friedrich; Friedrich was an Engels’ family name.

Marx could not let this illegitimate child stay at his home, so Henry was sent out and grew up at a worker’s home. Afterwards little Henry was allowed to visit his mother, but he could not enter the house at the formal entrance. He had to enter from the side door.  

Friedrich Engels died after Marx. At his funeral Engels praised this thinker as a completely perfect person even though for half of his life, Marx’s reputation depended on him. Eventually Engels died of throat cancer. He could not talk on his way to death’s door, so he wrote on a piece of paper: Henry Friedrich is Marx’s son.

Lenchen died in 1890. For much of her life she worked for the Marx family and in the end was left empty handed; she was nothing, not even an ‘employed laborer’. However later her son became a mechanic, a real employed laborer. He was not at all interested in the communist revolution idealized by his father, but was a reform labor union member instead.