Marx and Engels in Neue Rheinische Zeitung August 1848

The German Citizenship and the Prussian Police

Source: MECW Volume 7, p. 383;
Written: on August 11, 1848;
First published: in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 73, August 12, 1848.

Cologne, August 11. It is well known how the Prussian army paid homage to German unity on August 6.[244] The Prussian police must not lag behind the Prussian army. Never have there been in its opinion more German foreigners or foreign Germans in Prussia than since an indivisible German National Assembly, a German Imperial Regent [Archduke John of Austria] and a German Imperial Government have been meeting in Frankfurt.

Herr Geiger, acting Police Superintendent, whose accession to the throne was greeted by us earlier with misgivings, seems to have received the special order to purge Cologne of German foreigners and to tolerate only Prussian subjects within the walls of the old imperial city. If he is consistent, who will save a person’s right of domicile except the police, the army, the bureaucracy and the natives? Herr Geiger himself will not be missing among these “last of the Mohicans”.

We shall report at a later time about the conflicts the editor-in-chief of the Neue Rheinische Zeitung, Karl Marx, had with regard to the Prussian right of citizenship. Today we are dealing with Herr Karl Schapper, a contributor and proof-reader of the Neue Rheinische Zeitung.

Herr Schapper has received an invitation to visit the Police Inspector of his district this morning. The Police Inspector informed him that due to an order of Herr Geiger, he would have to leave Cologne and the Prussian state by tomorrow because he is a foreigner. The Inspector informed him at the same time that he would extend the period by a week out of courtesy.

Herr Schapper is not only a German but he is also a citizen of Nassau and he is equipped with a Nassau passport in optima forma. [in all formality] Herr Schapper resides at Cologne with his wife and three children. His crime consists of being a member of the Democratic Society and the Workers’ Association.[245] as well as being the proof-reader of the Neue Rheinische Zeitung. These are, of course, three crimes all at once.

Every German possesses the general German citizenship,” reads the first paragraph of the German Fundamental Rights[246] which has already been approved. Herr Geiger seems to interpret this in such a way that every German has the right to be expelled from 37 German states. Besides the legislation of the National Assembly, there is now Geiger’s legislation!

For Herr Hansemann, however, the Minister of action, we have a piece of advice: he may use police methods against deputies at his own discretion, but there is no playing around with the press. It can open the book of the bourgeois past and

If you are after a little amusement,
You may go dancing, but I'll play the tune —
[Mozart, The Marriage of Figaro]

no matter how many Geigers may threaten with their violins. [play on the words Geiger — the name of the Police Superintendent of Cologne — which literally translated means “violinist”, and violine — derived from the French word vision meaning both “violin” and “prison"]