Marx and Engels in Neue Rheinische Zeitung June 1848

Threat of the Gervinus Zeitung

Source: MECW Volume 7, p. 115;
Written: on June 24, 1848;
First published: in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 25, June 25, 1848.

Cologne, June 24.

“There will not be any trouble if the prestige of the Frankfurt Assembly and its constitutional provisions keep France in check; Prussia will restore its prestige from its eastern provinces and in doing this it may perhaps hardly shrink from the temporary loss of its Rhine Province.” (Gervinus Zeitung of June 22.)

How diplomatically the Berlin correspondent of the professorial newspaper writes! Prussia will restore “its prestige from its eastern provinces”. Where will it restore its prestige? In the eastern provinces? Oh no, from the eastern provinces. In the Rhine Province? Even less so, since in connection with this restoration of its prestige it counts “on a temporary loss of the Rhine Province”, i.e. a temporary loss of its “prestige” in the Rhine Province.

Thus in Berlin and Breslau.

And why will it not restore with its eastern province rather than from its eastern province the prestige it has apparently lost in Berlin and Breslau?

Russia is not the eastern province of Prussia, Prussia is rather the western province of Russia. But from the Prussian eastern province, the Russians will move arm in arm with the worthy Pomeranians to Sodom and Gomorrah and restore the “prestigeof Prussia, i.e. the Prussian dynasty and absolute monarchy. This “prestige” was lost on the day when absolutism was forced to push a “written scrap of paper”, soiled by plebeian blood, between itself and its people, and when the Court was compelled to place itself under the protection and supervision of bourgeois grain and wool merchants. [86]

Thus the friend and saviour is to come from the East. What then is the purpose of concentrating soldiers that side of the frontier? It is from the West that the enemy is approaching and it is therefore in the West that the troops should be concentrated. A naive Berlin correspondent of the Kölnische Zeitung does not comprehend the heroism of Pfuel, that upright Polonophile who accepts a mission to Petersburg without an escort of 100,000 men behind him. Pfuel travels to Petersburg unafraid! Pfuel in Petersburg! Pfuel does not hesitate to cross the Russian frontier and the German public spins yarns about Russian forces along the German frontier! The correspondent of the Kölnische Zeitung feels sorry for the German public. But let us return to our professorial newspaper!

If from the East the Russians rush to the aid of the Prussian dynasty, from the West the French will rush to help the German people. The “Frankfurt Assembly” may continue to debate calmly the best agenda and the best “constitutional provisions”. The correspondent of the Gervinus Zeitung hides this opinion by the rhetorical embellishment “that the Frankfurt Assembly and its constitutional provisions” will keep France “in check”. Prussia will lose the Rhine Province. But why should it shrink from such a loss? It will only be “temporary”. German patriotism will march once again under Russian command against the French Babylon and also restore for good “the prestige of Prussia” in the Rhine Province and in all South Germany. Oh, you foreboding angel, you! [Goethe, Faust]

If Prussia does not “shrink from the temporary loss of the Rhine Province”, the Rhine Province shrinks even less from the “permanent” loss of Prussian rule. If the Prussians ally themselves with the Russians, the Germans will ally themselves with the French and united they will wage the war of the West against the East, of civilisation against barbarism, of the republic against autocracy.

We want the unification of Germany. Only as the result of the disintegration of the large German monarchies, however, can the elements of this unity crystallise. They will be welded together only by the stress of war and revolution. Constitutionalism, however, will disappear of itself as soon as the watchword of the time is: Autocracy or Republic. But, the bourgeois constitutionalists exclaim indignantly, who has brought the Russians into German affairs? Who else but the democrats? Down with the democrats! — And they are right!

If we ourselves had introduced the Russian system in our country, we would have saved the Russians the trouble of doing it and we would have saved the costs of war.