Friedrich Engels, by virtue of a statue in Deansgate, is ingrained in the heart of the city of Manchester. But how did a German man, who co-wrote the communist manifesto, become a Mancunian icon? What does Manchester owe to him?
On May 3rd, 2021, Northern Ireland commemorated its 100th anniversary as a separate legal entity within the United Kingdom. This raised the question: how do we commemorate a state with a history of violence and discrimination? This essay doesn’t attempt to answer this question but explores Northern Ireland as a case study to demonstrate the complex nature of contested anniversaries.
In February 1952, Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne at the youthful age of twenty-five, becoming a historic moment that captured the hearts and minds of the nation. Her reign is bejewelled with monumental records and achievements, beginning with her coronation’s televised broadcast to the general public and including her most recent accomplishment of reaching her Platinum Jubilee, having been on the throne for 70 years.
The Russian Civil War (1917-1922) broke out after the Bolshevik seizure of power between the Bolshevik Red Army and anti-Bolshevik White armies. Victory in the Civil War saw the true consolidation of the revolution, which allowed the Bolshevik state to create history. However, millions died during the Civil War, from starvation, disease, the war itself and the Red Terror. Russia’s population, which stood at 170.9 million in 1913, had fallen to 130.9 million by 1921 as the country had been fraught with constant warfare and devastation.
In recent years Germany has been presented as the exemplar western liberal democracy. Their recent election saw increased turnout, almost 10% higher than the 2019 UK General Election. Chancellor Merkel’s Conservative CDU/CSU party has led ‘GroKo’ – Grand Coalition governments with the Social Democrats for twelve of the last sixteen years. This coalition between the largest parties is difficult to imagine elsewhere, especially in the UK. Finally, in response to the 2015 Refugee Crisis, Germans accepted over a million refugees, whilst the UK pledged to take 20,000. Thus, it’s easy to assume Germany’s engaged, consensus politics and democratic culture as permanent and inevitable