Engels in Neue Rheinische Zeitung August 1848

The Kölnische Zeitung about Italy

Source: MECW Volume 7, p. 395;
Written: by Engels on August 26, 1848;
First published: in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 87, August 27, 1848.

Cologne, August 26. Yesterday we were condemned to having to listen to the political hot air of a writer of belles-lettres, Herr Wilhelm Jordan of Berlin, who lectured from the world-historical standpoint.” Fate is pursuing us relentlessly. A similar lot befalls us today: the main achievement of March consists in the belles-lettres writers having monopolised political life.

Herr Levin Schücking of Münster, the fourth or fifth wheel on the advertising wagon of Herr Dumont, has published an article in the Kölnische Zeitung on “our policy in Italy”.

And what does “my friend Levin with the eerie eyes” [from Ferdinand Freiligrath’s Die Rose] have to say?

“There has never been a more propitious moment for Germany than the present one to place its policy vis-a-vis Italy upon a healthy basis which promises to endure for centuries. We have gloriously” (!by the betrayal of Charles Albert) “wiped off the disgrace with which our flags were besmirched by a people that in times of fortune easily becomes overweening. At the head of a matchless army, worthy of admiration not only in victory and battle but also for its patience and endurance, barba bianca, the White-Beard, planted Germany’s glorious (!?) double-headed eagle on the battlements of the rebellious town where more than six hundred years ago the imperial Red-Beard hoisted the same banner as a symbol of Germany’s sovereignty over Italy. This sovereignty still belongs to us today.

Thus speaks Herr Levin Schücking of the Kölnische Zeitung.

In those days when Radetzky’s Croats and Pandours were driven out of Milan by an unarmed people after a five-day battle, in those days when the “army worthy of admiration” which had been routed at Goito withdrew to Verona, in those days the political lyre of “ my friend Levin with the eerie eyes” was silent! But ever since the reinforced Austrian army achieved an undeserved victory because of the equally cowardly and clumsy betrayal of Charles Albert, a betrayal which we predicted innumerable times, ever since then the neighbouring journalists have been reappearing on the scene, ever since then they have been trumpeting about the “wiped-off disgrace”, risking parallels between Frederick Barbarossa and Radetzky Barbabianca and reducing heroic Milan, which made the most glorious revolution of 1848, to a mere “rebellious town”. Ever since then “sovereignty over Italy” belongs to us Germans, to whom otherwise nothing ever belongs.

“Our flags"! The black-and-yellow rags of the Metternich reaction which are being trodden under foot in Vienna, those are the flags of Herr Schücking of the Kölnische Zeitung!

“Germany’s glorious double-headed eagle"! That selfsame heraldic monster which had its feathers plucked by the armed revolution at Jemappes, Fleurus, Millesimo, Rivoli, Neuwied, Marengo, Hohenlinden, Ulm, Austerlitz and Wagram[253] happens to be the “glorious” Cerberus of Herr Schücking of the Kölnische Zeitung.

When the Austrians were beaten, they were separatists [Sonderbündler][254] and practically traitors to their country. Ever since Charles Albert was caught in the trap and they have moved to the Ticino, they have become “Germans” and it is “we” who have accomplished all this. We have no objections to the Kölnische Zeitung having achieved the victories of Volta and Custozza and conquered Milan [255] but then it will also have to assume the responsibility for the — to it — very well known brutalities and infamies of that barbarian army “whose patience and endurance are worthy of admiration”, just as it also assumed in former times the responsibility for the Galician slaughter.[256]

“This sovereignty still belongs to us today. Italy and Germany are nations around which nature and history have after all formed a bond. They belong together providentially, being related like science and art, thought and sentiment.”

Just like Herr Brüggemann and Herr Schücking!

And it is exactly for that reason that the Germans and Italians have constantly fought each other for 2,000 years. It is exactly for that reason that the Italians shook off German oppression again and again. It is exactly for that reason that German blood has so often reddened the streets of Milan. All this was done to prove that Germany and Italy “belong together providentially”.

It is exactly because Italy and Germany “are related” that Radetzky and Welden have allowed the burning and plundering of all Venetian towns!

My friend Levin with the eerie eyes now demands that we surrender Lombardy up to the River Etsch a because the people does not want us even if a few poor “cittadini”, [citizens] (the learned Herr Schücking thus refers to the contadini, peasants) received the Austrians jubilantly. But if we conduct ourselves as “a free people”,

“then it [the Italian people] will gladly offer us its hand in order to let us guide it along a path which it cannot enter upon by itself, the path to freedom”.

Indeed! Italy which won for herself freedom of the press, a jury system and a Constitution before Germany had awakened from the laziest slumber; Italy which at Palermo fought the first revolution of this year[257]; Italy which without weapons conquered the “matchless” Austrians at Milan, that Italy cannot enter upon the path to freedom without being guided by Germany, which means by a Radetzky! Of course, if it takes a Frankfurt Assembly, a meaningless central power, 39 separatist leagues [Sonderbünde] and the Kölnische Zeitung to walk the path of freedom....

Enough of that! So as to make sure that the Italians “will let themselves be guided towards freedom” by the Germans, Herr Schücking retains Italian Tyrol and Venetia for the enfeoffment of an Austrian archduke and he sends

“2,000 South German imperial troops to Rome so that Christ’s vicar may restore order in his own domain”.

But unfortunately

The French and Russians own the land,
The English rule the sea;
But we in dream’s ethereal realm
Hold sovereign mastery.

Our unity is perfect there,
Our might beyond dispute.
The other folk in solid earth
Have meanwhile taken root.
[Heine, Deutschland. Ein Wintermärchen]

And up there in the ethereal realm of dreams we also possess sovereignty over Italy”. Nobody knows this better than Herr Schücking. After he has developed this worthy policy of sovereignty for the benefit of the German Empire, he closes with a sigh:

“A policy which is great, high-minded and worthy of a power like that of the German Empire has unfortunately always been regarded by us as fantastic and thus it will probably be for a long time to come!

We recommend Herr Schücking as door-keeper and frontier guard of German honour upon the summit of the Stilfser Ridge. From up there the vigorous literary supplement of the Kölnische Zeitung may survey Italy and make certain that not one iota of “Germany’s sovereignty over Italy” will be lost. Only then can Germany sleep calmly.