Engels in Neue Rheinische Zeitung February 1849

Windischgrätz. — Jews and Southern Slavs

Source: MECW Volume 8, p. 415;
Written: by Engels on February 21, 1849;
First published: in Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 228, February 22, 1849.

Jews are known to be cheated cheats everywhere, but especially in Austria. They exploited the revolution and are now being punished for it by Windischgrätz. Incidentally, anybody who knows how powerful the Jews are in Austria will appreciate what an enemy Windischgrätz has taken on by issuing the following proclamation:

Pest, February 13 (official Wiener Zeitung, evening supplement). “Proclamation. In my proclamations of November 13 and December 13 of last year and of January 7 of this year I acquainted all inhabitants of Hungary with the task I have to solve, namely, the restoration of peace, order and legality. I have also had the satisfaction of seeing the effect, evident everywhere, of these proclamations. Only individual localities, duped by infamous agitators, are still attempting to disturb the so necessary calm and order by spreading Kossuth’s appeals, orders and decisions. Inhabitants of Hungary! You have seen what leniency I have exercised, on the assumption that the majority are misled and seduced rather than truly rebellious people; but whoever still tries to make common cause with the Debreczin party of rebellion, to accept or spread its orders, or to maintain any kind of connection with it and to stir up the communities, can no longer count on any leniency, he must receive the punishment for high treason.

“I am sending out in various directions troops, whose commanders will be authorised to use the jus gladii[right of the sword] ; anyone found carrying on him a proclamation by Kossuth, or any writing, letter, newspaper etc., issued by his party, will inexorably be treated under martial law, in the same way as anyone concealing arms or inciting people to disobedience. — Any postmaster or postal employee who accepts such writings, letters or proclamations from the area of Debreczin, or worse, forwards them, will be hanged. — Finally, I would like to warn the Jews of Ofen and Pest, but particularly those of Old Ofen, to refrain from entering into any understanding under any name whatever with the traitor Kossuth, the so-called honvédmi bizotmáy, [Defence Committee] and the rebel Assembly, for it has come to my knowledge that it is in fact mainly Israelites who allow themselves to be used as spies and suppliers of the rebels, and that they also make it their business to spread false and bad news about the alleged victories of the rebels so as thereby to arouse fear and mistrust; hence, for every Israelite who is sentenced under military or martial law for the above-mentioned offences, the Jewish community to which he belongs will pay a fine of 20,000 guldens C. M. [343] Ofen Headquarters, February 11, 1849.

Alfred Prince zu Windischgrätz m. p., Royal Imperial Field Marshal”

It is clear from this proclamation that things are going very badly for “citizen and communist” Windischgrätz.

And, incidentally, to come back to the Jews: Windischgrätz. attempt to filch money from them has already “begun to be put into effect” as the Code Napoléon says. For the Constitutionelles Blatt aus Böhmen reports the following:

“The Jews are to pay a lump sum of 1,200,000 florins in redemption of the abolished toleration tax, and that in five years, but they have not paid the quotas due either last year or this. The amount in arrears has now been called in. — The printer Eisenfels was arrested yesterday.”

It seems to us priceless that the Jews must still pay for their emancipation. In Prussian this is called “redemption of feudal dues”.

Otherwise there is nothing to report from Hungary except that in Pest the forwarding agent Franz Förster was shot under martial law on February 8 for taking part in a revolt by attempting to confiscate the steamboat Hermine in Gran.

The Leipziger Zeitung reports as follows on the increasingly comical complications among the Slavs (Neue Rheinische Zeitung has, of course, known this for a long time):

Vienna, February 14. From several provinces of the monarchy we hear of stubborn refusals to supply the demanded recruits. In the Praschin district of Bohemia the peasants refuse under the pretext that the Imperial Diet has not sanctioned the latest recruiting ordered on such a lavish scale. Quite a noticeable ferment is observed in the countryside even more than in the capital, Prague. If, as we are assured, the Government shortly proposes compensation for the abolished Urbar duties, [344] a new and more serious shock will be added to the innumerable and seemingly endless shocks of our public life. Confusion is growing in the South-Slav areas; but evidently a most dangerous storm is brewing, the aim and end of which cannot yet he discerned. General Todorovich has had a state of siege declared in Karlowitz, the scat of the Serbian National Committee. The chaos in Serbian affairs is further increased by the specifically Austrian efforts of Consul Mayerhofer. With barely concealed fury the Southern Slavs cry: Betrayal! They claim that all the measures taken lately by the Government in Hungary are directed towards restoring ultra-Magyarism, insofar as it is disguised in old aristocratic garb. In Agram, the agitation has reached a most disturbing degree. — Jellachich is in Szolnok. The following is a reliable fact: He has protested against the separation and dismemberment of his corps. He had to do this in order not to jeopardise his exceptional popularity in the Slav world. In Croatia there is energetic pressure for the convocation of the Provincial Diet. With this the dictatorship with which Jellachich was vested in the summer will come to an end."[345]