Engels in Neue Rheinische Zeitung April 1849

The Counter-Revolutionary Plans in Berlin

Source: MECW Volume 9, p. 370;
Written: by Engels on April 30, 1849;
First published: in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 286, May 1, 1849.

Cologne, April 30. The plans of our counter-revolutionary Government are gradually being revealed.

It was intended that a new stage of the Prussian counter-revolution should date from April 27. It was desired to provoke the Berlin people into street fighting, perhaps to allow the insurrection ā la Cavaignac to achieve “considerable magnitude”, then to crush it by Cavaignac’s means and with superior force such as Cavaignac possessed, to proclaim martial law, to favour a few deputies and a good number of agitators [285] with powder and shot, and finally, by new dictated measures to get rid of the troublesome fetters which even the martial-law Charter of December 5 still imposed on our counter-revolution.

The provoked uprising would have provided a sufficient excuse for asserting that the people “were not yet mature enough” for the freedom most graciously bestowed on them, and that it was impossible to govern under such an electoral law and such a Constitution.[286] “To avoid bloodshed”, and therefore in the interests of the people, the last remnants of freedom had to be destroyed. “To avoid bloodshed”, a state of siege had to be proclaimed throughout the country with the exception of Further Pomerania! All that could be asserted only after a decent-sized revolt in Berlin, with the requisite disturbances in Breslau, Magdeburg, Cologne etc., had taken place and had been successfully suppressed with the aid of grape-shot.

Hence the brutal behaviour of the constables against the Left assembled in the Konversationshalle, [287] and the cordon of troops encircling Dönhoff Square; hence the rapid fire on an unarmed peaceful crowd, which could not disperse because all the streets were barred to it.

The calm behaviour of the people despite all provocation upset the calculations of the counter-revolutionaries. They have no pretext for issuing dictates, but dictate they must. Perhaps this evening already we shall learn what new turn these gentlemen have decided on.

What extensive plans were envisaged is evident from all the circumstances. Firstly, from the simultaneous dissolution of the Chamber in Hanover, secondly and in particular, from Herr Radowitz’s journey to Berlin.

Herr Radowitz is the heart and soul of the Prussian counter-revolution. He drafted the plan for the counter-revolution of November last, but he himself still remained behind the scenes and intrigued in Frankfurt on behalf of the Prussian hereditary imperial crown. This time Radowitz himself went to Berlin in order, it is said, to come out in the open at last and to become Prime Minister. A Radowitz Government — that is the heart of the matter!

Furthermore, we definitely know the following facts:

1) In the course of last week all Chefpräsidenten received from their Oberpräsidenten a document informing them of the forthcoming dissolution of the Chamber and directing them to take all necessary precautionary measures.

2) A ministerial rescript was sent to all government authorities stating:

1. That all burgomasters are obliged to report daily to the appropriate government authorities about the impression produced by the dissolution of the Chamber. The government authorities, for their part, must present collective reports on this subject to the Ministry.

2. For the present new elections would not be held; on the other hand, measures will be taken against many members of the “so-calledLeft.

3. All precautionary measures should be taken to suppress any attempt at revolt.

The rescript is signed: Manteuffel.

Herr Manteuffel, or rather Herr Radowitz, his superior, could not have rendered a better service to the developing Hungarian-Polish-German revolution than precisely at the present time to come forward openly with his plans for the restoration of the absolutist regime.