Engels in Neue Rheinische Zeitung April 1849

The Extradition of Political Refugees

Source: MECW Volume 9, p. 257;
Written: by Engels on April 12, 1849;
First published: in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 271 (second edition), April 13, 1849.

Cologne, April 12. By the issue of warrants for the arrest of Austrian, German and non-German so-called political criminals, especially Kossuth, Bem, Perczel and other Hungarian heroes, the Prussian Government has already proved the close connection between Prussian constitutional freedom and blood-stained royal, imperial martial law. That an entente cordiale between Potsdam and Olmütz[206] existed, despite the question of the imperial crown, the German question, the Schleswig-Holstein and other questions, was a fact which could be overlooked only by the diplomatising literary moles from the Kölnische Zeitung and other shrewd journals. But that this entente cordiale was to sink to the lowest depths of vileness, to the infamy of the extradition of political refugees to the Austrians — that is what our glorious Government still had in store for us.

If Robert Blum had escaped from Vienna into Prussia, the Prussian Government would have handed him over to his executioners.[207]

On April 4 of this year the Prussian Government handed over the Viennese cadet Höcke, a comrade-in-arms of Robert Blum’s, to the bloodhounds of Austrian martial law. The Oberschlesische Lokomotive published the following report from Ratibor dated April 4:

“Yesterday at midday the Viennese cadet Höcke was brought here in a special conveyance under police guard from Breslau, to which town he had fled not long ago, being charged with high treason for his part in the October revolution in Vienna. In a letter to his family in Vienna, Höcke had given his Breslau address. This letter must have shared the fate of many others, i.e. it was opened at some Austrian post station, for soon afterwards the police authorities in Breslau received the order to arrest the aforesaid Höcke at the place where he lived, and to hand him over to the Austrians.
"Accordingly, the prisoner arrived here at noon yesterday under escort, where a very serious illness, from which he has suffered for a long time, delayed the continuation of his journey to judgment by court martial. He was put in the town gaol under a strong military guard, but already at 5 a.m. today he was taken across the frontier under the escort of two men of the town guard and a policeman. The much-vaunted Prussian human feeling did not allow him on this last journey of two-and-a-half hours to leave the vehicle even once, although it was a necessity in view of his illness. Nor was he allowed any kind of refreshment, for the purchase of which no money was available although, according to the prisoner’s statement, 80 talers were taken from him when arrested in Breslau, and the cost of transport, as we know for certain, amounted to only (!) 30 talers.
"It is the most urgent duty of German newspapers forcefully to draw the attention of the Austrian fugitives to the danger to which they are exposed by staying on Prussian, and especially Silesian soil. The old extradition treaty continues to operate in all its old glory.[208] The great German fundamental law, called martial law, is recognised in Prussia just as it is in Austria, and it is being put into effect with relish.”

Such an example from the heroes of martial law in the various countries where a state of siege has been proclaimed should not be given us in vain. Just as they assist one another now, so the democrats of all nations, too, will assist one another when the day of reckoning comes.

The royal and ministerial scum of half Europe found a safe refuge in England last spring.[209]

We assure Herr Manteuffel, Herr Brandenburg and Co. that in the next revolution which they themselves are so busily expediting, no obstacle will be put in the way of England handing them over to the victorious German people thirsting for revenge. Arrangements for that have already been made.