Engels in Neue Rheinische Zeitung March 1849

Draft Address of the Second Chamber

Source: MECW Volume 9, p. 86;
Written: by Engels on March 16, 1849;
First published: in the special supplement to the Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 247, March 16, 1849.

Cologne, March 16. Below we give for the information of our readers the draft Address of the Second Chamber,[84] a pale, servile copy of the speech from the throne. Its author is the notorious knight of the red land, valiant (!) von Vincke.

The Commission that drafted the Address

“gratefully recognises” (Old-Testament style) “the establishment” of “legal order through the Constitution of December 5 of last year”.[85]

The Commission even expresses this gratitude in the name of the “Prussian people”. And why should, according to the Commission, the people be thankful for the December Constitution imposed by the sabre? Because it is “imbued with a longing for the restoration of public legal order”. Unfortunate knight Vincke! He has had to prove that he is the champion of the “ legal basis’, which is his speciality. But how is it possible to recognise the “legal basis” when confronted with the Brandenburg Government which shattered this very basis of legality by tearing up the laws of April 6 and 8, 1848 [86]? Nothing is simpler! The Government has imposed a new legal basis, martial law and simultaneously the Charter, the Code and philosophy of martial law — the Constitution of December 5. First the Government abolishes “public legal order”. Then the Government proclaims some other “public legal order”, the first that comes to hand, e.g. a Croatian one, a legal basis of quelconque. Then the Commission for drafting the Address in the name of the Prussian people, and Vincke in the name of the Prussian Commission for drafting the Address, have nothing more urgent to do than to welcome the restoration of some sort (any sort, no matter what) of “public legal order"! The legal basis is dead! Long live the legal basis! If, tomorrow, the Prussian Government is overthrown, if a Comité du salut public[87] is proclaimed in Berlin, then among the first to offer congratulations and invite guests to the wedding there will undoubtedly be a “champion of the legal basis”, some Vincke or other, who in moving tones will recognise the “restoration of” some sort of “public legal order”.

The Address Commission and the dead ride fast. First of all, “gratitude” (according to the prescription of the Neue Preusische Zeitung) for the coup d'état of December 5! Then the martial-law Constitution as the “henceforth valid fundamental law of the Prussian state"! Finally, the vow to carry out the “revision wholly inspired by reverence and loyalty towards Your Royal Majesty”, i.e. a revision in the sense desired by the donor. In this way, it is to be hoped, we shall be led back to the period even prior to the United Diet[88]!

As for Berlin’sstate of siege?”, the Address Commission will be governed exclusively by the platitude that “true freedom cannot exist without law and order”. People know the battle-cry of “law and order!” from the events in Warsaw.[89] If only Prussia could exist without money or obtain money without these importunate parliamentary charterers! As for the states of siege sporadically occurring “outside the city of Berlin”, the Address Commission considers it appropriate “to await a further report from Your Royal Majesty’s Government”. Meanwhile Erfurt and the districts of Silesia where a state of siege has been declared are left out in the cold. Vincke is satisfait as long as the Erfurt and Rosenberg military censorships do not “cross out” his draft Address. There is no danger of that!

Vincke then makes a promise in the name of the Address Commission, and the commission makes a promise in the name of the Second Chamber, and the Second Chamber makes a promise in the name of the people to fulfil “by strenuous effort” and as satisfactorily as possible the tasks which the royal Prussian Government has entrusted to the “so-called representation of the people”. Good luck!

“We too recognise with joy that the Prussian army has proved its military renown during the days of struggle and its loyalty in the course of severe trials.”

The Danish campaign of the Imperial Court of Law![90] The battles at Miloslav and Wreschen! The victories in Anhalt, in Mainz, in Frankfurt am Main![91] More than this! Vincke joyfully recognises the loyalty with which “My glorious army” hounded Vincke’s predecessor and used the official documents of the old National Assembly as fuel for the stove. Vincke has every reason to rejoice. Without the “loyalty” of the “Prussian army in the course of severe trials”, our Vincke would never have had the opportunity to immortalise himself by this draft Address which he himself drew up. Moreover, we may point out incidentally that in this matter, too, the Address Commission copies in schoolboy fashion the provisions in the Hohenzollern general plan of reform a as given by the Neue Preussische Zeitung.

And the German question?

“Prussia” will shrink from “no sacrifice” in order to seize Little Germany, by means other than those with which Frederick the Great seized Silesia. In regard to “conquests”, modern Prussia subscribes to the principle of “peaceful” progress. Moreover, the Address Commission “hopes” that “all the German governments will come to an understanding with the German National Assembly”. We hope that the German governments will not pay much attention to this imperial training-college for teachers.

The Address Commission further expresses the wish that there be “no disturbance of the peace” as a result of “the termination of the armistice by the Danish King”. Vincke knows very well that this Danish termination of the armistice is not meant to be taken more seriously than the Prussian-Danish war itself.[92] The Prussian troops act as imperial troops in Schleswig-Holstein, the Schleswig-Holstein troops act as imperial troops in South Germany, the former here and the latter there declaring martial law!

Condolences for the death of Prince Waldemar, and assurances of readiness for self-sacrifice, by means of which von Bodelschwingh, Riedel, von Seckendorf, Arnim, Harkort, Count Renard, Camphausen, Vincke, Grün and suchlike rabble stoop to the role of Prussian Lycurguses and Solons; piety, respect for the law, public spirit, justice, providence, the hearts of the kings and the future of Prussia, “and with it the future of Germany”, — all that is served up as a dessert by the Address Commission through the good offices of von Vincke!

Idiocy must have rights of citizenship in a national assembly and in a nation which a von Vincke, by means of such a miserable botchwork produced in the name of a commission, in the name of a Chamber, and in the name of the people itself, can dare to turn into the laughing-stock of the European gallery.