Engels in Neue Rheinische Zeitung May 1849

Kossuth’s Proclamation

Source: MECW Volume 9, p. 407;
Written: by Engels about May 7, 1849;
First published: in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 292, May 8, 1849.

We are publishing the following passages from a proclamation by Kossuth, dated Gödölllö, April 7, and taken from the Neue Oder-Zeitung.

“The nation’s valiant army has driven out that enemy whose traitorous commissioners in Nograd and Somogy had once more started to subject the people to the yoke of labour services which had been abolished by law and which we shall never permit to be inflicted on you again. It has driven out the enemy who in the past month issued an imperial decree that where the terrier has been abolished, the tenant has to pay half the value of the abolished labour services and tithes out of his own pocket, although the Hungarian law exempted you from this payment. It is our firmest resolve to uphold this law in defence of your freedom.

“Our valiant army is driving from your borders the enemy whose Emperor dared to state: ‘Hungary does not exist and will never again exist’, and who dared to partition us from our brothers in Transylvania, to tear Croatia from Hungary, to cut up our own fatherland and to turn our most fertile regions into a special Rascian Kingdom, [318] for the benefit of those Rascian robbers with whom he did not scruple to ally himself for the purpose of exterminating the Hungarian nation.

“Our valiant army is driving from your borders the enemy who, wherever he went in his flight, robbed like a common highwayman, who, not content with stealing as much as he could eat and drink, destroyed and laid waste what he was unable to consume, in order to leave famine in his wake; what is more, with inhuman ferocity and out of sheer predatory, malignant instincts he snatched the pillows from under the heads of your children, scattering the feathers to the winds. He did not even spare your churches; he tore the marble slabs from the altars, gutted the roofs of the chapels, while some of the officers stole the silver spoons from those who gave them food: thus behaves the enemy that the Austrian Emperor sent to our country, to destroy it, to exterminate our nation, and to make our people slaves and beggars!

“I prophesied to you months ago that Hungary’s freedom, autonomy and independence would blossom out of the tyranny of the Austrian Emperor.

“And, thank God, it is so. Praised he the holy name of the Lord for this, and the nation’s blessing and eternal thanks also to the valiant Hungarian army, to those who gladly sacrificed their lives and blood for the fatherland, who with unshaken courage defeated the united force of the enemy and who with their continuing victories are hastening towards the glorious goal, making you, O Hungarian people, by the sacrifice of their heroic blood free and happy! The enemy boasted of fictitious victories in order to deceive the Hungarian people and to plunge them into desperation.

“That is a characteristic piece of cowardice, for only a coward is capable of lying. The enemy deceived you with lying reports that he had driven our troops out of Transylvania, that Jellachich had taken Szegedin by storm, although he never came anywhere near it.

“Yes, and what is more — now that the enemy has been defeated four times within five days, and forced out of his strongest position, Windischgrätz, Schlick and Jellachich with their whole army in flight from Poroszlo, Pest and Waitzen — now, while I am writing this in Gödölllö, in the very same room where 24 hours ago Windischgrätz dared to dream of Hungary’s subjugation — now, whilst his whole defeated army is on the run and we have snatched the whole of Transylvania, two-thirds of Hungary, from the tyrant’s clutches — even now he is still not ashamed of spreading the lies in the venal Pest journals that he won a victory near Jasz-Bereny. To remove any doubt in the matter, I give you — my brothers, my friends! — the comforting assurance that I and the splendid leaders of our heroes are in Gödölllö with our army, whither our intrepid Honveds fought their way at bayonet’s point. We are in Gödölllö from whose outskirts our artillerymen went into action, shelling the arrogant enemy out of his positions; in Gödölllö from whose outskirts our hussars pursued the fleeing enemy up to the Danube at Pest. — And over there in Transylvania the imperial enemy no longer exists. This Emperor sent the wild Muscovites against us, but Bem and our Hungarian army in Transylvania expelled the enemy and his Muscovite protectors, down to the last man, from the sacred soil of Transylvania.

“And down in the Bacska, Perczel took St. Tamas whose capture cost so much blood on other occasions. And he liberated Peterwardein, which was enmeshed by Austrian treachery, and freed the prosperous Alföld from the Rascian robbers. But up here, where the enemy’s main force planned to subjugate Hungary, Commander-in-Chief Görgey with his generals Damjanich, Aulich, Klapka and Gaspar defeated Schlick near Hatyan, Jellachich near Tapio-Bicske, Windischgrätz and Schlick rejoined by Jellachich near Isaczeg; and now that they and our victorious troops have taken Gödölllö, they are already standing on the Rakos plain. A few more days, and Hungary will be free and no wicked enemy will violate the soil of our fatherland.

“This is the joyful news I give you, my brothers Long live the free Hungarian fatherland!”