Appeal for Support for German Political Refugees

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Note from MECW :

This and other documents published in this volume reflect Marx's efforts to gather together revolutionary forces scattered after the defeat of the 1848-49 revolution and to render support to the revolutionary refugees suffering poverty and privation in England. (On the Committee of Support for German Democrats in Need which later became the Social-Democratic Refugee Committee see Note 180.) The Appeal of the Committee of Support for German Refugees (which appeared in some of the German newspapers) evoked a response from broad democratic circles. The Workers' Committee of Support for Political Refugees set up in Cologne published a pamphlet entitled Die Westdeutsche Zeitung und die Westkalmücken. On September 28, the Workers' Association in Frankfurt, led by Weydemeyer, decided to render support to refugees and announced a collection of funds. The Hamburg newspaper Der Freischütz (No. 86, October 26, 1849) carried the following item describing the activities of the London Committee: "Appeal for Support for German Refugees signed by Karl Marx ("former editor of the Neue Rheinische Zeitung"), Karl Blind ("former envoy in Paris of the Baden-Palatinate Government"), Anton Füster ("former member of the Austrian Imperial Diet in Vienna" who lived for some time in Hamburg), Heinrich Bauer (master shoemaker in London) and Karl Pfänder (painter in London).—Friendly donations should be addressed to: Heinrich Bauer, 64 Dean Street, Soho Square, and marked 'for the Refugee Committee'. That the appeal yielded results is proved, inter alia, by the following receipt sent to us. "Receipt: "We acknowledge the receipt of a seven-pound bill on the London and Westminster Bank issued in the name of Herr E. Thiessen in Stettin and, on behalf of the German refugees, extend our gratitude to those who contributed. "London, October 16, 1849. The Committee of Support for German Political Refugees." "Karl Marx, Karl Blind, Heinrich Bauer, Karl Pfänder."Ever since, accompanied by the savage din of war, “peace and order” have been re-established in Germany; ever since, atop the ruins of smouldering cities and amidst the murderous thunder of cannon, the “security of property and person” has been restored; ever since the court-martial has scarcely sufficed to consign one “rebel” after the other with smashed head to the grave; ever since the prisons have no longer proved large enough to accommodate all the “traitors”; ever since the only remaining form of justice has been martial law—since that time thousands upon thousands of people have been wandering without shelter in foreign lands.

From day to day their number grows and with it the misfortune of those without a homeland; turned away from one place to the next, they do not know in the morning where they will lay their heads that evening, nor in the evening where tomorrow’s food is coming from. There is an emigration of countless numbers filling Switzerland, France and England. Those wretched people have come from all the provinces of Germany.

Anyone who mounted the barricades in Vienna against the black and yellow[1] “league” and grappled with Jellachich’s Serezhans[2]; anyone who fled from the soldiery of Wrangel and Brandenburg in Prussia; anyone who in Dresden took up the musket to defend the Imperial Constitution, and anyone who in Baden saw action as a republican soldier against the united crusading army of- the princes—whether liberal, democrat, republican or socialist: supporters of the most varied political doctrines and interests, they are all united in the same exile and the same misery.

Dressed in rags, half a nation is begging at the doors of foreigners.

Our fugitive compatriots are also wandering on the cold pavement of the resplendent metropolis, London. Every ship that crosses the Channel brings from across the sea a new multitude of people without a homeland; in every street of the city one can hear the grief of an exile lamenting in our tongue.

This distress has deeply stirred many German friends of liberty in London. Therefore on September 18 of this year a general meeting was held of the German Workers’ Educational Society and the refugees from our nation who had arrived here, in order to set up a Committee of Support for Democrats in Need. Those elected were: Karl Marx, former editor of the Neue Rheinische Zeitung;

Karl Blind, former envoy in Paris of the Baden-Palatinate Government;

Anton Füster, former member of the Austrian Imperial Diet in Vienna;

Heinrich Bauer, master shoemaker in London; and

Karl Pfänder, a painter here.

This Committee will render a public account every month, both at the general meeting and in the form of extracts in German newspapers. In order to avoid any misinterpretation it has been decided that no member of the Committee may draw any assistance whatsoever from the fund. Should a member of the Committee ever be in need of assistance in the future, then he will cease to be a member of the Committee.

We ask you now, friends and brothers, to do whatever lies in your power. If you are concerned that liberty, crushed and enchained, should rise again, *and if you have a feeling in your hearts for the sufferings of your best champions, then there will be no great need of exhortations from us.

All donations should be addressed to: “Heinrich Bauer, master shoemaker, 64 Dean Street, Soho Square, London.” Whatever is enclosed should be marked “for the Refugee Committee”.

London, September 20, 1849

The Committee of Support for German Political Refugees:

Anton Füster, Karl Marx, Karl Blind,

Heinrich Bauer, Karl Pfänder

  1. Black and yellow were the official colours of the Austrian Empire.— Ed
  2. Serezhans and other South-Slav army formations performed compulsory military service on the Austro-Turkish border. In 1848 and 1849 the Austrian authorities and Right-wing bourgeois-landowning nationalist elements drew them into the war against revolutionary Hungary. p. 596