Engels in Neue Rheinische Zeitung May 1849

The Uprising in Elberfeld and Düsseldorf [348]

Source: MECW Volume 9, p. 428;
Written: by Engels about May 10, 1849;
First published: in the special supplement to the Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 295, May 11, 1849

Cologne, May 11. From Elberfeld we learn that after twice attacking the people, the soldiery drawn up on the market square were repulsed with several dead and wounded. The colonel of the 16th regiment had his horse shot from under him; he himself was severely wounded. Captain Uttenhoven is reported to have fallen, riddled with bullets in front and behind (!); it is said that his own men fired at him. The soldiers’ attack aroused the most tremendous fury. The majority of the civic militia fought on the side of the people.

The dissolved town council is said to have been replaced by a committee of public safety, and four members of the former council have joined it. The house of the chief burgomaster, von Carnap, was totally demolished; the mahogany furniture from the Hotel von der Heydt was used to build one of the most valuable barricades. A total of about 40 barricades is supposed to be in the town.

At the time of dispatch of this news which, however, cannot be vouched for in every point, the town had been evacuated by the troops, and large reinforcements from the surrounding districts were advancing to support the people of Elberfeld.

When the news that fighting had begun in Elberfeld reached Düsseldorf on the evening of the 9th, a truly heroic struggle was waged at Düsseldorf railway station against the troops who were being sent from Cologne to Elberfeld as reinforcements; and there was soon fierce barricade fighting in all streets. The alarm tocsins were rung the whole night through, and the grape-shot fired by the military was answered by the bullets of the people. Towards morning, the soldiery gained the upper hand, however, and it is reported that during the day posters were put up on the street corners proclaiming a state of siege and martial law.

There are thought to be about 20 dead among the casualties suffered by the people; they include the well-known forwarding agent Hartmann and a Polish painter who, after springing in front of the advancing soldiers and urging them not to fire on their brothers, was cut down by their bullets and fell dead to the ground.

The military are said to have later shot down defenceless men, women and children, thus marking their victory by even more bloodshed.