Engels in Neue Rheinische Zeitung April 1849

The Southern Slavs and the Austrian Monarchy

Source: MECW Volume 9, p. 229;
Written: by Engels on April 4, 1849;
First published: in the supplement to the Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 264, April 5, 1849.

Not a word from the theatre of war. Not a syllable confirming the fabulous report of Bem’s crossing into Wallachia, which may now be regarded as pure martial-law rumour, since after the arrival of the alleged courier no Bulletin has appeared.

There is, on the other hand, interesting news of the Austrian Slavs. Among the Czech townspeople and peasants, says the Augsburg Allgemeine Zeitung, Kossuth’s name is regarded with the same respect and wonder as Napoleon’s, and people were arrested in Prague for raising a cheer for Kossuth. The Südslavische Zeitung writes from Vinkovci, March 24:

“Travellers brought to us the news that extraordinary excitement reigns in Semlin. Street processions in Hungarian costume, Hungarian freedom songs, Eljens and Zivios for Kossuth resounding through the town.”

Todorovich has withdrawn from Kanlzsa to Kikinda (between the Theiss and the Maros), and has thus by no means united with Jellachich. The blockade of Szegedin and Theresiopel has therefore been competely raised. This retreat obviously took place as a result of the discontent among the Serbs.

The cause of this dampening down of the Serbian lust for plunder is Austria’s vacillating policy, making promises to the Serbs today, to the Magyars tomorrow, and regarding the rich Hungarian aristocracy (which can easily be restored to power and influence again after an Austrian victory) as a better ally in the long run than the chaos of classes, interests and conditions of the South-Slav and especially the Serbian provinces.

For the amusement of our readers we print the latest martial-law rumour:

Kossuth is said to be involved in negotiations with the Government and to be making the following condition for Hungary’s complete and immediate submission: the acceptance of the Constitution drafted by the Imperial Diet[186] for the whole monarchy and his appointment as the Governor of Hungary!!!

Baja has not yet been retaken, Nugent bombarded it in vain.

Bem has imposed a contribution of 100,000 florins on Hermannstadt. The Romanians are quite discouraged; a Landsturm can no longer be raised.