Engels in Neue Rheinische Zeitung April 1849

The New Croatian-Slavonian-Dalmatian Robber State

Source: MECW Volume 9, p. 307;
Written: by Engels about April 20, 1849;
First published: in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 278, April 21 1849.

Agram. While in Hungary proper the royal imperial united monarchy is being shaken in its very foundations by the victorious Magyar armies, the national separatist movement in the South-Slav countries is continually creating new difficulties for the Austrian Government. The Croats have now conceived the idea of a Croatian-Slavonian-Dalmatian triune kingdom, to serve as the focal point for pan-Slav aspirations in the south. This trinity of Pandours, Screzhans and Haiduks, this kingdom of red-coats, was at once “taken in hand”, to use the Austrian Croat-German phraseology, by the Croatian-Slavonian Committee of the Diet, and the appropriate Bill produced by the Committee is available in print.[244] The document is remarkable, There is not a trace in it of hatred for the Magyars or of any precautions against Magyar transgressions. But it plainly bears the marks of hatred for the Germans, of safeguards against German transgressions and of the pan-Slav alliance against the Germans. That is what our constitutional-patriotic wailers of the Holy Roman Empire have got for their enthusiasm for the Croats.[245] We have already earlier informed our readers that the same hatred and the same mistrust of the Germans is prevalent in the Serbian Voivodina.

The trinity of red-coated cut-throats begins its existence at once with conquests. Apart from the fact that it tears from Hungary the whole of Croatia and Slavonia, it demands the Mur Island, i.e. the corner of the comitat of Zala lying between the Drava and the Mur, and the Quarnero islands of the district of Istria and Trieste, i.e. a small fragment of Germany as well as one of Hungary.

In addition it demands the following rights: (1) the internal relations of Croatia-Slavonia with Dalmatia are to be decided by their respective Diets; (2) their relations with the Serbian Voivodina are to be decided by mutual agreement; (3) also,

closer political union is to be established with the remaining neighbouring Slav provinces of the Austrian Empire on the basis of mutual agreement”,

i.e. a pan-Slav separatist union [246] to be formed against the Germans and the Magyars within the royal imperial united monarchy. And this right of separatism is, according to the Pandour-Serezhan way of thinking, the first right of man:

“This natural (!) right of union cannot under any pretext be either denied or hindered in either the triune kingdom or in the Austro-Slav areas which wish to unite with the kingdom by reason of” (Croat German!) “the same or related nationality.”

That is, our first, “natural” right of man is the revival of the Prague Slav Congress [247] as the legislative authority. How naive a demand to put to a Schwarzenberg-Stadion Government!

These conquests and pan-Slav alliances, are followed by a solemn declaration:

“The triune kingdom has never been a German country” (Dieu merci!), “nor does it wish to become such or even a part or member of the German Empire, and consequently the triune kingdom cannot in future be drawn, without its express consent, into any kind of union with Germany which Austria may enter into either now or in the future.”

Such solemn declarations vis-ā-vis the Germans are considered to be urgently necessary, although to our knowledge no one has ever regarded Croatia and other areas inhabited by cut-throats as a “German country”, and although Germany at the moment has not the slightest wish to incorporate the Otocac[248] and Serezhan gentlemen into the German Empire.

There is not a single mention of the Magyars in the whole document, not a single paragraph designed to safeguard the desired triune robber state against the much-lamented Magyar oppression!

But the object of the whole thing is quite clear: the united, centralised Austria for which the Government is striving and in which the Germans as the most civilised nation will in the long run certainly be morally dominant, frightens the pan-Slav trinity a thousand times more than the Magyars, whom they consider to be defeated. Moreover, it is clear that among these petty robber nations hatred of the Germans far exceeds their hatred of the Magyars. And yet these petty robber nations are the allies of the Kölnische Zeitung, that German patriot!

These general principles are then followed by a long series of stipulations with which the South-Slav robber states seek to safeguard themselves against Austrian centralisation, i.e. against German oppression.

Thus the document proposes that all functions which this law does not expressly assign to the central government shall remain the prerogative of the provincial government. The authority of the central government, however, is only recognised in the following fields: (1) foreign affairs, with the exception of the above proviso regarding relations with Germany, changes in which require a two-thirds majority in the Diet; (2) financial administration, insofar as this is absolutely necessary; (3) military affairs, but only insofar as they concern the standing army; (4) commercial affairs; (5) roads and waterways.

Furthermore, in addition to representation in the Imperial Diet, the trinity of robber states demands

“consideration for the sons of the triune kingdom in appointments to relevant central government posts on the basis of the population proportions and the necessary qualifications”

(elegant Croat German again!), dealings with the central government to be conducted in the official language, a separate robber-state Minister in the central government, and a separate administrative section for the robber states in every relevant ministry.

Apart from that, the robber states will be governed by a “State Council of the Triune Kingdom”, and the armed forces, the army as well as the Banderial units, [249] the levy in mass and the National Guard will be under the command of the Ban. But the Ban may command only the army according to the orders of the Central Authority; for his command of the remaining sections of the armed forces he is responsible to “the nation”.

In internal affairs, the following changes are demanded: (1) the triune robber state shall provide contingents of troops no larger than any other Austrian province in relation to the size of its population; and (2) in civil matters the Military Border is to be subject to the ordinary civil administration and jurisdiction; the military administration and military jurisdiction operate only for those borderers who are actually under arms. But with that the whole of the royal imperial Military Border will automatically cease to be. We shall return to this.

This is the draft plan for the new triune Otocac-Pandour-Croat robber state which they want to set up on the south-eastern borders of Germany if the revolution and the Magyars permit it.