Engels in Neue Rheinische Zeitung April 1849


Source: MECW Volume 9, p. 359;
Written: by Engels on April 28, 1849;
First published: in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 285 (second edition), April 29, 1849.

Cologne, April 28. Our readers will be thankful to us if from time to time we examine the “splendour and might” of our Hohenzollern royal family and the simultaneous wonderful prosperity of the chief supports of its noble throne, the bug-ridden knights of Brandenburg who have been transplanted into every province.

In this instructive investigation we deal today with the Polish part of our fatherland in the narrower sense. Already last summer, on the occasion of the glorious pacification and reorganisation of Poland carried out by shrapnel and caustic,[274] we tested the German-Jewish lies about the “predominantly German population” in the towns, “the large German landed estates” in the countryside, and the royal-Prussian merit for the growth of general well-being. Readers of the Neue Rheinische Zeitung will recall that we learned from official figures and reports of the Archbishop of Gnesen and Posen to the bourgeois transitional Minister Camphausen that in the parts of the territory included within the Prussian demarcation lines, not about one half, but hardly one-sixth, of the population is Germans, whereas the lying statistics of the Prussian Government step by step increased the alleged German population the more the progress of the counter-revolution seemed to make possible a new division and a new diminution of the Polish part of Posen. We discovered that in connection with these figures the German national simpletons and money-grubbers of the Frankfurt parliamentary swamp always counted as Germans the Polish Jews as well, although this meanest of all races, neither by its jargon nor by its descent, but at most only through its lust for profit, could have any relation of kinship with Frankfurt. We discovered that in fact relatively very few of small German landowners were ensconced in individual districts of Posen, and then only as a result of treacherous Prussian speculation on Polish poverty, since, by the Cabinet Order of 1833, all auctioned estates could be sold exclusively to Prussian Junkers from the backwoods, to whom the Government advanced money for that purpose. Finally, we discovered that the benefits and services rendered by the Hohenzollern paternalism consisted in the fact that after the March revolution, out of cowardice, the finest promises were given of a “national reorganisation”, and then, with the growth of the counter-revolution, by means of a five times repeated and ever greater partition, the noose was fastened more tightly round the neck of the country, whereupon “reorganisation” was made dependent on “pacification” i.e. the surrender of weapons. Finally, when this condition was fulfilled, “My glorious army” [275] was let loose on the unarmed, trustful country in order in alliance with the Jews to plunder the churches, set fire to the villages, beat the Poles to death in public places with ramrods or brand them with caustic and, after having taken revenge for their belief in the “March promises”, pay honour to God and his Christian-Germanic Majesty on this field of corpses.

Such was the charitable work of Prussian “reorganisation” in Posen. Let us now deal also with the origin of large-scale Prussian landownership, the domains and estates. Their history is no less instructive as regards the “splendour and might” of the Hohenzollern family and the value of its beloved rogue knights.

In 1793 the three crowned thieves divided the Polish booty among themselves according to the same right by which three highwaymen divide among themselves the purse of a defenceless traveller.[276] Posen and South Prussia on that occasion received the Hohenzollerns as hereditary rulers in exactly the same way as the Rhine Province in 1815 received them as hereditary rulers, — in accordance with the right of trafficking in people and of kidnapping. As soon as this right of trafficking in people and of kidnapping is abolished, the Poles, like the Rhinelanders, will cancel with a red stroke the title-deed of their hereditary Hohenzollern Grand Duke.

The first thing by which in plundered Poland the Hohenzollern Father of the country manifested his Prussian benevolence was the confiscation of the lands formerly belonging to the Polish Crown and Church. In general we have not the slightest objection to such confiscation; on the contrary, we hope it will soon be the turn of other crown lands. We ask however for what purpose were these confiscated estates used? In the interest of “the general well-being” of the country, for which the Brandenburg paternal regime was so benevolently concerned during the work of pacification and reorganisation in 1848? In the interests of the people whose sweat and blood created those estates? We shall see.

At that time Minister Hoym, who for twenty years had administered the province of Silesia quite free from any supervision and used that power for the most Junker-like swindling and extortions, was entrusted with the administration of South Prussia as well, in reward for his services to God, King and country. In the interests of the “splendour and might” of the dynasty and in order to create a splendid and mighty class of devoted Junkers from the backwoods, Hoym proposed to his lord and master that he should bestow as many as possible of the confiscated Church and Crown lands to so-called “deserving persons”. And that was done. A host of rascally knights, favourites of royal mistresses, creatures of the Ministers, accomplices whom one wanted to silence, were presented with the largest and richest estates of the plundered country and thereby “German interests” and “predominantly German landownership” were implanted among the Poles.

In order not to arouse royal cupidity, Hoym had as a precaution assessed these estates for the King at a quarter or sixth part of their value, and sometimes even less; he was afraid, and probably not without reason, that if the King were to learn the true value of these estates, he would think of his own “paternal” pocket before anything else. During Hoym’s four years of administration after the “pacification"[277] from 1794 to 1798, there were in this manner given away: in the Posen administrative region 22, in the Kalisch, formerly Petrikau, region 19, in the Warsaw region 11, altogether 52 larger and smaller groups of estates, which in total contained not less than two hundred and forty-one separate estates. The King was told that the value of these estates was 3 1/2 million talers, but their true value exceeded twenty million talers.

The Poles will know from whom during the coming revolution they will have to extract these 20 million talers, that Polish milliard, stolen from them by the right of traffic in people.

In the Kalisch region alone the area of the estates given away amounted to more than a third of all the Crown and Church lands, and the income from these estates, even according to the miserable estimates of the value of the grants in 1799 alone, was 247,000 talers annually.

In the Posen administrative region the Owinsk estate with its extensive forests was presented to Tresckow, a haberdasher. At the same time the adjacent Crown estate of Szrin, which had not a single tree, was declared a state domain and had to buy its timber at government expense from Tresckow’s forests.

Finally, in other regions, the deeds of gift expressly freed the estates from ordinary taxes, and moreover freed them “in perpetuity”, so that no Prussian King should ever have the right to impose new taxes on them.

We shall now see in what manner the stolen estates were given away and to which “deserving persons”. The extent of the services of these Junkers from the backwoods, however, compels us for the sake of coherent exposition to deal with this subject in a special article.[278]