of Friedrich Engels 21
Germany, where a violent collision—which might, perhaps, be forced
on the people—should have, at the very least, the advantage that it
would destroy the spirit of subservience which has permeated the
national mind ever since the degradation and humiliation of the
Thirty Years' War."
The reader can himself make the necessary substitutions for
Germany in the above passage.
Constitutional Risings in Germany
The working classes failed to get their political liberties in the 1848
revolutions: the reaction triumphed.
But they learned some valuable lessons: they learnt to recognise the
unreliability of the small property-owners; their treachery, and the
need to rely on themselves alone as a class in their struggle with the
bourgeoisie. Of course, the subsequent history of Europe shows that
this lesson was not learnt thoroughly by all sections of the workers in all
Europe; but the foremost ranks of the workers did learn the lesson, and
after a short respite from the shock of their defeat there commenced a
more definitely class-conscious action amongst the European working
In May, 1849, a portion of the Rhine province broke out in revolt,
and as soon as Engels heard of this he hastened to the seat of action, to
Elberfeld; but the workers being betrayed by the small bourgeoisie,
the rising soon fizzled out. The Neue Rheinische Zeitung was suppressed, and after remaining in hiding in Cologne for a short time,
Engels went to the Palatinate, which had risen, together with Baden,
for a constitution for the whole German Empire. Here he joined a
volunteer corps as adjutant. But this rising also failed, owing to the
mismanagement and treachery of the South German Democrats—a
small bourgeois party, which, supported by the workers, had led the
rising. And it ended, as described by Engels, by a bloody massacre.
Engels stopped with the conquered army to the very last, until all was
hopelessly lost. He then went to Switzerland. The day after he
arrived at Vevey, he writes to Mrs. Marx explaining his long silence, and
the course of the rising. Although, he says, he had at first tried to
stand aside from this soi-disant revolution, still, when he heard that the
Prussians had come he could not keep himself from entering the ranks.
Although he does not think much of the rising, on the whole he is glad
that one from the Neue Rheinische Zeitung had taken part; otherwise
the democrats might have denounced them as being too cowardly to
fight. He is very anxious as to what has become of Marx, and says: "If
only I were certain that Marx is free! I have often thought that there,
in the midst of the Prussian bullets, I was in a much less dangerous
post after all than the others in Germany, and particularly than Marx
in Paris. Please relieve me immediately from this uncertainty."
In reply, Marx tells Engels how anxious they had been on his account