Engels in Neue Rheinische Zeitung April 1849

Dissolution of the Second Chamber

Source: MECW Volume 9, p. 357;
Written: by Engels on April 28, 1849;
First published: in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 285 (second edition), April 29, 1849.

Cologne, April 28. The rumour already current in the town at midday today was confirmed this evening: the King and his martial-law Government have dissolved the Second Chamber.[270]

The details can be found below, de dato Berlin. By this act the King and his martial-law Ministers have once again broken their word. According to the imposed martial-law Charter of December 5 [271] the Chambers were expressly convened “to revise the Constitution”. Only after the first Parliament convened under this Constitution had revised this botch-work was the latter to be regarded as complete and definitively valid. This is how it was imposed in December of last year.

Hence the Chambers had at least a partially constitutional mandate. So long as they had not carried out this mandate, so long as they together with the Crown had not revised the Constitution, they could not be dissolved, any more than the Assembly of blessed memory convened to agree upon the Prussian Constitution.[272]

Nevertheless it has been dispersed — this miserable Second Chamber, summoned under the sabre dictatorship and the menace of the bayonet, by means of bribery, intimidation and deception!

This is what is called “Prussian honour”, “Prussian loyalty"!

If the Ministers had waited a few more weeks, perhaps the Austro-Hungarian revolution would have spared them the trouble and dispersed both Chambers.

As for the significance of this new coup d'état, it is quite obvious.

We are going to be made to experience the rule of the sabre raised to the second power. We shall have most graciously foisted on us laws on the press, on associations, on civil disturbances, on posters etc., to such an extent that the German philistine’s eyes will fill with tears. There will be persecution, disciplinary punishment, arrests; the state of siege will be made universal and, to cap it all, finally a new Constitution will be introduced, and an electoral law with property qualifications as well as a House of Lords, a Constitution in which the present first Chamber will figure as the second.

In short, things will be pushed as far as Prussian pluck will permit.

We, for our part, wish only that Herr Manteuffel will once more convene the United Diet[273] of blessed memory.