Engels in Neue Rheinische Zeitung September 1848

The Faedreland on the Armistice

Source: MECW Volume 7, p. 446;
Written: by Engels on September 21, 1848;
First published: in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 109, September 22, 1848.

Cologne, September 21. It is common knowledge that the so-called National Assembly in Frankfurt approved of the armistice on Prussia’s assurance that the Danish Government has officially given notice of its readiness to agree to modifications.

It is well known, however, what intrigues went on during the voting on the preliminary question. The intrigues over the main question took place outside the Assembly.

Listen to what the Faedreland of September 16 says:

After explaining the disadvantages of the armistice that was actually signed as compared with the first draft, the newspaper comes to the advantages for Denmark. England and Russia would intervene if the war broke out again; German unity, held together with difficulty by the Danish war, would immediately disintegrate; the population of Jutland could be trained as an army reserve and the army doubled in size:

“and 60,000 troops on the narrow peninsula, backed up by the fleet, are a Dannevirke which big, united Germany would think twice about storming”.

“But whatever the terms of the armistice, it is plain that once it is signed, ratified and guaranteed, it would be irresponsible if we neglected to fulfil its terms, or tolerated their infringement by our enemies. There is no question of our Government doing such a thing, there can and must be no doubts about this, and for this reason it would be wrong to get alarmed at all the rumours hawked around in Schleswig-Holstein publications about changes in the terms once they have been accepted. We are fully aware that Prussian generals and officials and the Germans in general, with a few honourable exceptions, do not take their commitments and their vows, their bona fides so very seriously; we are quite ready to believe that General Wrangel had the effrontery to put proposals to the Danish Commissioner, Mr. Reedtz, suggesting a breach of the terms in order to make them more acceptable to his friends in Schleswig-Holstein; we are quite ready to believe that both the Frankfurt Assembly and the Prussian Ministry consider it quite in order to urge us to agree to arbitrary changes in a matter that has already been signed and sealed in due form. But we also believe that the worst thing our Government could do would be to permit them to alter even one jot or tittle of the treaty, for then “German honesty” would have no qualms about trampling the whole thing under foot. If Karl Moltke cannot find any co-regents, since it has been laid down how these are to be appointed, the Danish Government can proceed to choose two whose agreement is certain in advance, and it is then up to Prussia to find two of its own. If the people of Schleswig-Holstein are not willing to obey, it is up to Prussia to force them to. And if on the last appointed date, that is tomorrow, September 17, there is anything essential missing in the execution of the treaty after we for our part have conscientiously fulfilled all our obligations, then it is up to the Danish Government to set a final deadline, and if this also expires without any further developments, then it is the right and duty of the Danish Government to move the army to Schleswig and have it occupied. We will then see what Europe has to say and what guarantees and obligations actually mean. We certainly have no need to fear the consequences; whatever they are, it is easier to endure them than to disgrace ourselves in our own eyes and in the eyes of the whole world, than to allow ourselves to be treated as the bondsman (Trael) of German arrogance and German dishonesty.

“We are pleased to say that as we lay down our pen we can give the positive assurance that as far as Danish Government is conceived any modification of the armistice convention which has been concluded is out of the question.

Thus the semi-official organ of the Danish Cabinet.

And now? Who is the deceiver now, who the deceived, who the, deceived deceiver? [Lessing, Nathan der Weise]