Marx and Engels in Neue Rheinische Zeitung June 1848

A New Partition of Poland [47]

Source: MECW Volume 7, p. 64;
Written: by Engels on June 8, 1848;
First published: in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 9, June 9, 1848.

Cologne, June 8. The new demarcation line of Herr von Pfuel in Posen is a new rape of Poland. It limits the part. that is to be “reorganised” to less than a third of the entire Grand Duchy and joins the far larger part of Great Poland to the German Confederation. The Polish language and nationality are to be recognised only in a small strip along the Russian border. This strip consists of the Wreschen and Pleschena districts and parts of the districts of Mogilno, Wongrowiec, Gnesen, Schroda, Schrimm, Kosten, Fraustadt, Kröben, Krotoschin, Adelnau and Schildberg. The other parts of these districts as well as the entire districts of Buk, Posen, Obornik, Samter, Birnbaum, Mescritz, Bomst, Czarnikow, Chodziesen, Wirsitz, Bromberg, Schubin, and Inowroclaw are transformed without more ado into German soil by the decree of Herr von Pfuel. And yet there is no doubt that even within this “territory of the German Confederation”, the majority of the inhabitants still speak Polish.

The old demarcation line at least gave the Poles the River Warta as their frontier. The new one restricts that part of Poland which is to be reorganised by another quarter. Both “the desire” of the Minister of War [August Kanitz] to exclude from reorganisation a three to four mile strip of territory around the fortress of Posen and the wish of various towns such as Ostrowo etc. to be joined to Germany, serve as convenient pretexts for this measure.

The desire of the Minister of War is perfectly natural. First one steals the city and fortress of Posen which lies ten miles deep inside Polish territory; then one finds the new theft of a three-mile strip desirable so as not to be disturbed in the enjoyment of the previously stolen territory. This further acquisition of land leads again to all sorts of small adjustments, and so one has the best occasion to propel the German frontier further and further towards the Russian-Polish border.

The desire to be incorporated expressed by “German” towns may be explained as follows: all over Poland, Germans and Jews form the main part of the artisans and merchants; they are the descendants of immigrants who fled their homeland for the most part because of religious persecutions. Founding towns in the midst of Polish territory, they have shared for centuries all the vicissitudes of the Polish realm. These Germans and Jews, a very large minority in the country, are trying to make use of the country’s present situation to gain mastery. They plead their German nature; they are no more German than the German Americans: Annexing them to Germany would entail the suppression of the language and nationality of more than half of Posen’s Polish population and especially that part of the province in which the national insurrection raged with the greatest violence and intensity, i.e. the districts of Buk, Samter, Posen and Obornik.

Herr von Pfuel declares that he will regard the new frontier as finally settled as soon as the Ministry ratifies it. He mentions neither the Agreement Assembly nor the German National Assembly Who after all have also a word to say when it comes to settling the boundary of Germany. But no matter whether the Ministry, the Agreement Assembly, or the Frankfurt Assembly ratify the decision of Herr von Pfuel, the demarcation line will not be “finally settled” so long as two other powers have not ratified it as well: the German nation and the Polish nation.