Engels in Neue Rheinische Zeitung February 1849

War. — Discord Between the Government and the Southern Slavs

Source: MECW Volume 8, p. 347;
Written: by Engels on February 10, 1849;
First published: in Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 219, February 11, 1849.

The Kölnische Zeitung, which is known to support Windischgrätz against the Magyars, today describes the reports of Magyar victories appearing in the reactionary Breslauer Zeitung, which is hostile to the Magyars, as “utterly ridiculous exaggerations”. We have printed those reports and shall, of course, await further information before going into them in greater detail. This much is certain — that the imperial troops have met unexpected obstacles on the Theiss, otherwise they would have crossed the river long ago; according to “reliable” Austrian reports, Schlick has already marched on Debreczin a dozen times, whereas he has not even crossed the Theiss!

Meanwhile, for the edification of that reliable source, Schwanbeck, we should like to present a few short news items taken from the royal imperial Augsburg newspaper, on whose reliability one can surely depend. It will be remembered that for some time now we have been drawing attention to the so-called democratic group of the Austrian Slavs, and also to the conflict which these fanatics were bound to become involved in with the Olmütz Government. We described Jellachich as the first and Stratimirovich as the second representative of this trend.[302] That this particular group, whose mouthpiece is the Südslavische Zeitung at Agram, is also gaining ground in Croatia itself is borne out by the following article taken from the Augsburg Allgemeine Zeitung:

“As I have already reported, the machinations of the Serbian General Stratimirovich are gaining in importance as he has many followers among the Serbs and seems to exert a particular influence on the Tchaikists.[303] We do not doubt the general claim that his attempts to stir up opposition to Patriarch Rajachich do not stem from any kind of agreement with the Magyars but simply from his own ambitious aims; only how sad it is to see the Slav element, which Austria should and must cling to in the storm, being itself abandoned to the storms of egoistical factionalism! Stratimirovich is offended as he felt he had been thwarted in his hopes of succeeding to the position of voivode on the death of General Shuplikac, and he now broods on vengeance. Whether this is at the expense of the union which is so necessary amongst the people and at the expense of the well-being of his own country, does not worry him. Stratimirovich was fortunate enough to distinguish himself at the very beginning of the struggle against the Magyars with a small troop of victorious Serbs[304]; he was also fortunate enough to make himself indispensable, as it were, and in particular to achieve more at St. Thomas and the Roman ramparts[305] than did many other generals one could name with regular troops. He quickly rose from the rank of Oberleutnant to that of general. Assigned to the deputation which his country sent to Olmütz, he succeeded in helping to fulfil the Serbs’ most cherished wishes as far as their nationality and independence were concerned, and when this was followed shortly afterwards by the sudden death of Auplikac, who had only just recently been appointed voivode, the wish of the troops and of the country designated him as the probable successor. That is how things stand from this point of view. But in Croatia too, things do not seem as bright as they tend to appear in the usual superficial reports. Reliable persons coming from that country assert that people are not happy about the Ban’s absence being prolonged and that his popularity is endangered, since the Croats see in him their Ban and not simply the Austrian Lieutenant-Field Marshal. Nor, apparently, is the appointment of Baron Kulmer as Minister meeting with the kind of approval in the country that had been initially expected, as he is generally considered to be a tool in the hands of the Court. The news of his appointment is said even to have given rise to a hostile demonstration during which part of the forest-land he owns in Croatia was set on fire. From all this, and also from the daily increasing irritation revealed in the language of the Agram newspapers, it becomes clear that one will not be able to deal with the Slavs so easily.”

On the other hand, the same newspaper confirms Dembifiski’s arrival at Debreczin. It reports from Pest:

“General Dembifiski really is in Debreczin. Members of the Hungarian House of Representatives are there also in large numbers, and by contrast the insurgents can only count 11 magnates among their number. Fortune appears to have turned its back on the rebel leader Bem in Transylvania; at least, despite his boastful reports, refugees seeking help keep arriving at the rump parliament. A decree issued by Köz1öny of Debreczin, the Magyar Moniteur, states that Meszaros, the Minister of War, has resigned because of illness, and has been replaced by General Vetter.”

It contains the following on Dembinski himself:

Vienna, February 3. The fanatic Magyars expect the talents of that famous Polish general, Dembinski, who is said to have been placed in supreme command of all Magyar troops, to bring them great success. Born in 1791, Dembinski came to Vienna in 1807 to attend the Engineering Academy, fled from the town secretly in 1809 and, at the age of eighteen, joined the ranks of the Fifth Polish Mounted Rifle Regiment. He fought against the Russians and so distinguished himself in the 1812 campaign at the battle of Smolensk that Napoleon promoted him to captain on the very battlefield. Too proud to enter the service of the Russians, he thereupon lived in quiet seclusion for many years, until the Polish revolution of 1830 gave him the opportunity to distinguish himself as a colonel with his cavalry brigade of 4,000 men. He managed to delay the whole Russian force of 60,000 men under Marshal Diebitsch for a whole day during the battle of Grokhov."[306]