Marx and Engels in Neue Rheinische Zeitung August 1848

The Attempt to Expel Schapper

Source: MECW Volume 7, p. 390;
Written: on August 18, 1848;
First published: in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 80, August 19, 1848.

Cologne, August, 18.

“We demand a universal German right of domicile and full freedom of movement throughout the German fatherland.”

So said His Majesty Frederick William IV in his charter of March 18.[251]

But the King proposes and Herr Geiger disposes. Herr Geiger, acting Police Superintendent of Cologne, is insisting on the expulsion of Herr Karl Schapper on the pretext that Herr Schapper is a citizen of Nassau and moreover a German in partibus infidelium. [Beyond the realm of reality — literally “in the country of infidels” — an addition to the title of Catholic bishops appointed to a purely nominal diocese in non-Christian countries]

Yesterday a police-sergeant pushed his way into Frau Schapper’s bedroom and deposited the following letter, which we reproduce exactly as it was written. What might appear to be incorrectness is perhaps nothing more than a Prussian protest against German grammar.

Herr Schapper,
I am instructed to inform you that the Police Superintendent still continues to insist that you should leave the city, should you however have any objection to raise against the laws then please lodge an appeal immediately with the Police Inspector, to he sent to him immediately.
Cologne 17/8. 48


Thereupon, Herr Schapper addressed the following note to the Police Inspector:

Dear Sir,
Under the date of the 11th of this month you signified to me that I must leave the city of Cologne within a week, in accordance with the decision of Herr Geiger, Police Superintendent. I had already lodged a protest against the decision on that occasion. You have now communicated to me through a police-sergeant that the said expulsion order still stands but that I may appeal against it. This I am now doing and I base my case on the following reasons.

1) As early as March 18, 1848, the day before the March revolution, the King of Prussia issued a charter calling on all German states to observe a universal German right of domicile and admit the freedom of movement. No Prussian authority ought to refuse the citizens of another German state what the King of Prussia has demanded for citizens of the Prussian state. The charter of March 18 either has no meaning at all or it implies the abolition of all earlier provisions for the expulsion of non-Prussian German citizens.

2) On July 21 of this year the German National Assembly at Frankfurt adopted Paragraph 2, Article 1, of the German Fundamental Rights[252] in a form which expressly forbids all expulsions of Germans from German cities or states. It says:

“Every German has the right to sojourn and make his domicile, acquire real estate etc., etc. ... pursue any type of employment in any part of the territory of the Empire...
"The conditions of sojourn and domicile will he laid down for the whole of Germany ... by a law of domicile issued by the imperial authority. Until such a time as these laws of the Empire are proclaimed, the exercise of the said rights is open to every German in every German state under the same conditions as apply to the citizens of the state in question.
"No German state may make any distinction in connection with civil, penal or adjective law between its own citizens and the citizens of any other German state whereby the latter, as foreigners, are treated at a disadvantage.”

According to this paragraph I have the right, until the proclamation of the relevant laws of the Empire, to sojourn or domicile in Cologne, a town situated on the territory of the German Empire, and gain my livelihood as a proof-reader under the same conditions as the citizens of the Prussian state. But citizens of the Prussian state can only be expelled from Cologne, under the existing laws, if they have no means of subsistence. I have not been accused of lacking these and if I were I could at any time prove the contrary, since my salary as proof-reader on the Neue Rheinische Zeitung is sufficient to guarantee myself and my family a decent standard of living.

It is not valid to object that the relevant paragraph of the Fundamental Rights has not yet been promulgated. It has all along been the practice of administrative authorities in all constitutional states to suspend the execution of regulations such as the right of expulsion and other restrictions on personal freedom when a resolution abolishing these regulations has been passed by the appropriate Legislative Assembly and only awaits formal promulgation.

We are here dealing, then, with a resolution of the National Assembly which abolishes the powers of expulsion and a royal charter which recognises this resolution in advance. Consequently I believe that I am fully within my rights when I declare
that I protest against the expulsion order, which was not even communicated to me in writing or accompanied by a statement of reasons, as an illegal act and that I will only yield to force.

Sir, I would ask you to be so kind as to lodge this protest with the appropriate authorities and to forward the decision to me as soon as possible, for if it is ignored I will appeal immediately to the royal Regierungspräsident or the Ministry of the Interior and in the last instance to the Berlin Constituent Assembly and the German National Assembly.

Cologne, August 17, 1848

(signed) Karl Schapper

The “cathedral of German unity”, in which the solemn speeches that our great political architects made for three days running culminate, has, as its foundation stone the expulsion of a citizen of Nassau from Cologne on the Rhine.