Articles by Marx & Engels in Neue Rheinische Zeitung

Government Provocations

Source: MECW Volume 9, p. 55;
Written: Written on March 12, 1849;
First published: in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 245, March 14, 1849

Cologne, March 12. The high anointed and unanointed lords want to revenge themselves for their sufferings in March 1848 by redoubled joy in March 1849. To this end they have moved heaven and earth so that on the various anniversary dates of the March events in the German fatherlands disturbances will take place in as many parts of Germany as possible thus offering the counter-revolutionaries new opportunities for acts of violence. For weeks past, therefore, the constitutional and aristocratic newspapers have daily concocted stories about enormous preparations for March insurrections, about repeated incursions of republican volunteer bands across the French and Swiss frontiers—in Switzerland there are about 15 1/2 German republicans; and on each occasion alarm has been aroused in the breasts of worthy philistines by hot air from "reliable sources", "indubitable indications", and "authentic reports". But the jokers endowed with divine grace sit calmly behind the scenes, rejoicing at the effects of their reports a la Santa Claus which are being systematically spread by the whole of the servile press, and they smile in a superior manner when the stupid philistines take these calculated cries of alarm au serieux.

In this respect, Baden, i.e. Bekk, had to open the ball. Thereupon the hireling journalists began at once to repeat faithfully this whole litany about incursions, putsches and other foolishness. Then Württemberg and Bavaria had to hasten to perform similar services. Huckstering, venal Frankfurt, which has sold itself, this arrogant and worthless imperial city could not and did not want its "daily press" to lag behind. Hessians also, both the blind and the sighted, as well as the Stüve-dominated Hanoverians, and the Brunswick makers of long sausages, and all the other hosts of passion martyrs among the imperial peoples of Germany—they all had to play the same tune. This was performed best of all by most worthy Wrangel-Manteuffel. Four hundred false passports for German refugees in Besancon were prepared, and in addition orders on how to behave and emissaries were dispatched to all corners of the black-and-white territory in order to raise the loudest possible hullabaloo in the press and by oral propaganda about the approaching republican March insurrectionists.

However, many of those Christian-Germanic organs of the press, taking no notice of the very wily directives, made much too loud a noise at the very beginning. They then attempted to correct this mistake by a still stronger beating of drums and still more shameless lies.

Of course, Herr Hansemann, too, immediately and most willingly gave his support to this vociferous company in his new newspaper. While apparently belonging to the opposition in the First Chamber, he makes up for this delusive appearance by printing in his newspaper, as a loyal shield-bearer of Manteuffel-Brandenburg, the most absurd information and correspondents' reports about the threatening March insurrections. We shall give only one example. He prints the following fabrication from Cologne as the very latest news:

"For some days we have been living—so to speak—in a state of complete anarchy. One has only to go into the streets to find that even in broad daylight there are crowds of workers strolling about, partly begging, partly robbing; the ale-houses and tobacco shops in particular are subject to numerous attacks. Matters have gone so far that for several days our town hall had to be guarded by a large force of soldiers. At night no one can feel safe in the streets. The worst feature in all this is that the mood of the workers is being artificially stimulated so as to bring about a full-scale insurrection on March 18."

Here in Cologne it suffices to reprint this article to expose all its perfidiousness and absurdity.

What could be seen here in broad daylight, and to an increased extent at night, were incessant bloody fights between troops of different branches of the armed forces. The intention, it seems, is to drown interpellations about "My glorious army" [53] by calumnies against the workers.

The governments are openly preparing for coups d'etat which are intended to complete the counter-revolution. Consequently, the people would be fully justified in preparing for an insurrection. But it knows perfectly well that the complicated situation in France, and especially in Hungary and Italy, will inevitably in the near future provide an opportunity for a rising. It will not therefore allow itself to be decoyed into a clumsily laid trap.