Engels in Neue Rheinische Zeitung May 1849

The Congress of Rhenish Towns

Source: MECW Volume 9, p. 392;
Written: by Engels on May 3, 1849;
First published: in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 289, May 4, 1849.

Cologne, May 3. The congress of Rhenish municipal councils will take place after all, although in a less official form, and not until next Tuesday. [309]

It goes without saying that we are expecting nothing at all from this assembly composed of bourgeois elected on the basis of three classes according to the property qualification with the mass of the people debarred from voting. A deputation is to be sent to Berlin, which will not even be allowed into the presence of Herr von Hohenzollern.

But it may be that the congress will not take place at all. On Sunday various party congresses will be held here in Cologne.[310] The Government is trying at all costs to provoke a conflict between the people and the army, in order to be able to muzzle us Rhinelanders, just as the Berliners have been muzzled.

It depends on the workers of Cologne whether this subtle Prussian plan will be frustrated. By their calm behaviour, by unshakeable equanimity in the face of the provocations of the soldiers, the Cologne workers can deprive the Government of any excuse for acts of violence.

Decisive events are at hand. Vienna, Bohemia, South Germany, Berlin, are in a ferment and await the right moment. Cologne can play its part, it can play a very powerful part, but it cannot begin any decisive action.

Let the workers of Cologne bear in mind, especially next Sunday, that all the provocations of the Government aim only at causing an outburst of such a kind as will occur at a moment unfavourable for us but favourable for the Government.

Only by great events can revolutions be carried through but if one accepts the challenges of the Government, the most that can result is a revolt.

Workers of Cologne, remember the 25th of September![311]