Articles by Marx & Engels in Neue Rheinische Zeitung

Vienna and Frankfurt

Source: MECW Volume 9, p. 42;
Written: Written on March 12, 1849;
First published: in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 244, March 13, 1849

Cologne, March 12. It was on the 15th of this month that the Imperial Diet in Kremsier intended to begin its consideration of the draft Constitution completed by the commission. The royal imperial brutes of summary jurisdiction then considered that the moment had come to thrust on the Imperial Diet the Constitution "by the grace of God", which had been lying ready for a long time, and to put an end to the whole Kremsier comedy of popular representation that had until then been tolerated.[39]

The whole imposition manoeuvre had already been worked out in the summer of last year between the anointed and unanointed counter-revolutionaries in Schönbrunn-Vienna, Potsdam-Berlin, London (where Metternich, as the master-spider of the Holy Alliance, sits at the centre of the web slowly spun around the peoples rising in revolt for their freedom), and Paris. That it was first of all put into operation by the Potsdam King was due solely to the situation in Prussia which allowed such a step to be taken earlier than in Austria.[40]

In November, official Austria hurled the blood-stained head of Robert Plum at the feet of the deputies in St. Paul's Church. A few days before this, the fine twin-pair of Imperial Commissioners, Welcker-Mosle, had returned from Windischgrätz's antechamber and from gourmandising in Olmütz covered with such disgrace that anyone else but the worthy Welcker-Mosle would have put a bullet through his brain rather than have dared to look anyone on earth in the face. Instead of that, this diplomatic twin-pair even bragged about their roundabout travels.[41]

The majority of the National Assembly was "satisfait" just as the French Chamber under Louis Philippe declared itself "satisfait" even when faced with the vilest actions and the most striking proofs of corruption.

The blood of the murdered Robert Plum has indeed stained the faces of the deputies in St. Paul's Church. Their cheeks certainly reddened, not however because of shame or fury and an outburst of deepest indignation, but with the colour of pleasure and satisfaction. It is true, fresh Imperial Commissioners were sent to Austria. But the only result they achieved was to redouble the contempt with which the Austrian side had already treated the so-called National Assembly representatives and the Germany they had betrayed.

"Mocht nix, 's is olles Aans!"—this was and is the motto of these gentlemen.

It will be recalled that shortly before the arbitrary acts of the Prussian Government Bassermann, Simson and, of course, the "noble" Herr Gagern etc. were in Berlin as Imperial Commissioners.[42]

And once again there are Imperial Commissioners in Austria, in Olmütz, while there, just as in Berlin, the Imperial Diet is being dispersed and a Constitution "by the grace of God" imposed on the people by means of Croats, Serezhans, Huzuls[43] etc.

Wherever freedom of the people is to be destroyed, Commissioners of the so-called Central Authority make their appearance like expectant vultures. Their sense of smell has always proved correct.

Now at last the Frankfurt frog-pond should realise that its turn will soon come. It itself will be punished for all its sins. On the monument to be erected at the site of its wretched activity the wayfarer will read: "Perished through its own fault, through cowardice, professorial stupidity and chronic meanness, amid in part the revengeful derision, and in part the complete indifference of the people."

Yet even now some of these miserable wretches dare to boast of the "fundamental rights" emanating from the Frankfurt factory[44] and are proud of them as though they were a great achievement. With the garrulity of washerwomen, they chattered about "fundamental rights" like scholastics in the Middle Ages, while the "fundamental power" of the Holy Alliance and its accomplices became ever more strongly organised and scoffed louder and louder at the chatter of the professors and philistines about fundamental rights. The former affixed their "fundamental rights" to a scrap of paper, whereas the latter, the men of the counter-revolution, inscribed their "fundamental power" on keenly sharpened swords, guns and Slav redcoats.[45]

As soon as the German people in any part of the Germanic fatherlands made use or seemed to want to make use of their original fundamental right, that of revolt against feudal or philistine-constitutional tyranny, Frankfurt with the utmost haste sent "imperial troops" in order to punish the people and make them submissive by billeting troops, by plunder, massacres and military excesses of all kinds, and in order to maintain the tools of the counter-revolution in good condition, that is to say, to fatten them well at the expense of the people and its "fundamental rights" and to fortify them for further heroic deeds.

In such cases the Frankfurt gentlemen always had the necessary power, since they borrowed it from the ranks of the abovementioned "fundamental power" of our gracious sovereigns.

Consequently, it is not surprising that the Frankfurt frog-pond has to maintain an impotent silence and look on helplessly whenever the anointed gentlemen proclaim their "fundamental rights", even if the fundamental rights of the gentlemen "by the grace of God" are aimed directly against it.

Hence also it will and must calmly witness that the Austrian Tamerlane has now dictated 13 fundamental rights to his beloved "subjects" among whom is a considerable number of Germans by the grace of God and Sophia, and simultaneously with this coup he has once again dealt a rough slap in the face to the Frankfurt heroes. And that according to law and justice!