Engels in Neue Rheinische Zeitung April 1849

Rumours of the Extermination of the Rebels

Source: MECW Volume 9, p. 265;
Written: by Engels about April 12, 1849;
First published: in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 271, April 13, 1849.

At last we perceive again an official royal imperial sign of life in the Vienna papers which came this morning. The following poster was displayed in Pest and Ofen:

“A brigade of the corps of His Excellency the Ban yesterday encountered an enemy detachment on the way from Jasz-Bereny. Although the enemy was numerically superior to our troops, he was at once attacked, dispersed and deprived of 17 guns. This is the beginning of operations which will end with the extermination of the rebels (!!).

Ofen, April 5, 1849
Count Lad. Wrbna,

Lieutenant-Field Marshal and Commander
of the 2nd Army Corps”

A commentary on this bulletin is provided by the Ost-Deutsche Post in a report from Pest, also dated April 5, where we read:

“Yesterday an encounter took place. The air was pregnant with rumours. Commotion grew when about 7 p. m. the pontoons were brought back, followed by ammunition carts, empty gun-carriages and individual small detachments of soldiers. At the same time an order went out to the inhabitants of the houses on the fortified bank of the Danube next to the suspension bridge to keep themselves in readiness for the evacuation of their quarters. Today wagons full of wounded came in and the rumour spread that the Ban had suffered a reverse and the insurgents were closing in on the city from Szegléd. The soldiers coming in were from his corps.”

This looks more like a defeat than a victory, and it is well known that the Ost-Deutsche Post is by no means on the side of the Magyars.

This then is, in Herr Wrbna’s words, “the beginning of operations which will end with the extermination of the rebels”. We therefore have every prospect to learn of more serious fighting shortly. By the way, even the Kölnische Zeitung no longer believes Herr Wrbna’s tale of the “extermination of the rebels”.

It appears that the gentlemen of the Pest War Council are offended that their incompetence is to be alleviated by bringing in allegedly more capable officers from Italy. Ŕ tout prix they want to “exterminate the rebels” before the victors of Novara arrive.[218] Nous verrons.