Final Issue Neue Rheinische Zeitung May 1849

“To My People”

Source: MECW Volume 9, p. 464;
Written: on May 18, 1849;
First published: in Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 301, May 19, 1849.

Cologne, May 18. “To my people!” [Appeal issued by Frederick William IV on May 15, 1849] Not — “To my glorious army!"[380] Have the Russians perhaps been defeated? Has the wind shifted and once again, as in March of last year, knocked the military cap from the head of the “unweakened” servant of Russia? Are the “loyal subjects”, living under a state of siege, once more in full rebellion?

When in 1813 the old “monarch of blessed memory” likewise derived from the advance of the Cossacks the necessary courage to shake off his abject cowardly role and the bloody punishments of the revolutionary empire, then — in spite of the Cossacks, Bashkirs and the “glorious army” made famous by battles at Jena and Magdeburg and by the surrender of Küstrin to 150 Frenchmen — it was only the lying promises of an “Appeal to My People"[381] which made possible the crusade of the Holy Alliance against the successors to the French revolution. And now! Has not the reinvigorated Hohenzollern, as a result of the incursion of the Cossacks into German territory, obtained sufficient courage to renounce his cowardly role of the post-March period and to cancel the “scrap of paper interposed between him and his people” owing to the revolution? [382] Has not “My glorious army” in Dresden, Breslau, Posen, Berlin, and on the Rhine, worthily wreaked vengeance on the revolution by the valiant slaughter of unarmed men, women and children with shrapnel and caustic? [383]

Have not the last cowardly concessions made in March — abolition of censorship, freedom of association, arming of the people — once more been abolished by the recently imposed martial-law Constitution, “even apart from the state of siege"?

No, the son of the hero of Jena and Magdeburg still does not feel safe enough in spite of the alliance with the Cossacks, in spite of the privileges in regard to murder and courts martial afforded to the uncurbed “glorious” military horde. The unweakened Crown is afraid, it appeals “To my people”, it “feels compelled” to address an appeal for help and support against “internal and external enemies” to the downtrodden besieged “people” which has been battered by grapeshot.

“In these difficult times, Prussia is called upon to protect Germany against internal and external enemies. Therefore, I call my people to arms already now. It is a matter of establishing law and order in our state and in the other German states where our help is required; it is a matter of creating Germany’s unity, of protecting her freedom from the rule of terror of a party that is ready to sacrifice morality, honour and loyalty to its passions, a party which has succeeded in casting a net of delusion and folly over a section of the people.”

“That is the gist of the royal address,” exclaims the filthy police agent Dumont, and the venal police claqueurs of Dumont have indeed discovered the “gist”.

“External enemies"! By that is meant the “party of terror”, the party which terrifies the valiant Hohenzollern, the party which demands our interference in the “other German states”. The people of the Rhine Province, Silesia and Saxony are called upon “in the name of German unity” to put an end to the revolutionary movements in the foreign German states of Baden, Bavaria, and Saxony! And to this end the bait with which the Hohenzollern gladdened the hearts of the people in 1813 is repeated, the well-tried “royal word” is pledged once again, promising the “people” a castrated recognition of the Frankfurt Constitution, promising them the “protection of law and liberty” against “godlessness”. “I and My house wish to serve the lord."[384] Is the well-tried pledge of a “Hohenzollern’s royal word” not worth a crusade against the “party which terrifies the Crown that promises so much”?

The powerful subordinate knyaz of imperial Russia recalled the Prussian deputies from Frankfurt only in order now, in accordance with his March promises, to put himself “at the head of Germany”. The Agreement Assembly and the imposed Chamber were dismissed, the “scrap of paper” was replaced by a martial-law Constitution and murderous military courts solely in order to guarantee the people the “protection of law and liberty!”

And freedom of the press has been suppressed, censorship has been imposed on the press in Erfurt, newspapers are directly banned throughout Posen, in Breslau, in the Silesian provincial towns, and even the National-Zeitung in Berlin. In Düsseldorf censorship has been re-introduced de jure, but the press has been totally abolished de facto (the Düsseldorf newspapers, the Neue Rheinische Zeitung etc.), and finally only the police cesspool of the Kölnische Zeitung and the rascally newspaper in Berlin [Neue Preussische Zeitung], were imposed on the “free” subjects. All this has been done so that there should not be the slightest doubt about the value of the “royal word”.

And the word of the Hohenzollern does indeed merit that the people don military uniforms to strengthen the royal courage so as to procure — under the army reserve law — a royal bounty of one taler monthly for the wives they leave behind as a “safeguard against begging”.