Engels in Neue Rheinische Zeitung May 1849

Longing for a State of Siege

Source: MECW Volume 9, p. 402;
Written: by Engels on May 5, 1849;
First published: in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 291, May 6, 1849.

Cologne, May 5. It is still being rumoured that on Sunday, on the occasion of the district congresses of the various parties [314] a state of siege will once again be imposed on the good city of Cologne.

From all kinds of small preparations by the military authorities, it is clear that at any rate they are preparing themselves for all eventualities. That is not all. Measures are being taken which definitely indicate a desire to provoke disturbances.

Why otherwise has “My glorious army"[315] been suddenly permitted, to the great astonishment of the soldiers themselves, to remain out of barracks until 10 p.m instead of 9 p.m.?

There is likewise again talk of arrests. We are quite ready to believe in it. The desire for such action has been in existence for a long time. Moreover, it is known that already on one occasion by means of such arrests the plan of provoking disorders proved completely successful.

We repeat, it is of the utmost importance that the democrats, and especially the workers of Cologne do everything possible so that tomorrow the powers that are eager for a state of siege will not be given even the slightest excuse that will serve them as a cover for their acts of violence.

It is primarily the bourgeoisie that is endangered by the latest counter-revolutionary actions. The bourgeoisie has convened the congress of the towns. Let the bourgeoisie have the honour of saying the first word. Let us wait to see what these gentlemen will decide on Tuesday. We are convinced that many a worthy democrat will be greatly disappointed by the results of this pompous “congress of the towns”.

One thing is certain: if the state of siege is proclaimed before Tuesday then the congress of the towns will not take place and no one will be more pleased at this than precisely the gentlemen who convened it.

If tomorrow the workers allow themselves to be provoked into disorders they will only be pulling the chestnuts out of the fire for the bourgeoisie, and at the same time for the Government. The question is whether they wish to be used for this purpose at a time when all Germany is on the threshold of civil war, and when perhaps they will soon have the opportunity to come forward with their own demands.