Army Order, Election. Candidates, Semi-Official Comments on Prussian Ambiguity

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Author(s) Friedrich Engels
Written 14 September 1848


MIA-bannière.gif
Source: Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volume 7, p. 434;
First published: in Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 103, September 15, 1848.
Collection(s): Neue Rheinische Zeitung
Keywords : Election, Denmark, Germany, War

We have received Danish newspapers up to September 9. An army order of September 4 gives the following instructions: General Krogh takes over command in Jutland, headquarters Viborg. For the duration of the armistice the garrison in Alsen has a special command. The corps in the field is quartered as far as possible in its recruiting areas and is therefore spread across Jutland and the islands. Forty to fifty men per company remain under arms, the rest will be sent home on leave, and the brigade commanders are instructed to inspect their troops frequently and prepare for a new campaign. However, since the King [Frederick VII] wants to make a personal inspection of the troops before they go on leave, these decisions will not be carried out until further orders. It is also unlikely that they will be, for as the postscript of the Faedreland announced on the 9th, news of the decision passed by the National Assembly about suspending the withdrawal has just reached Copenhagen in private letters.

The Danes can rely fairly firmly on the troops recruited in North Schleswig, this is evident from the fact that it was precisely these sections of the army that were moved to the vicinity of the Schleswig frontier or Alsen.

The liberal party in Copenhagen has put forward its list of candidates for the approaching elections. The representatives of the middle class, the editors of the Faedreland and other “men of the people” of the “constitutional monarchy established on a democratic basis” (note how thoroughly the Danes have plagiarised the Germans) have met to draw up the list. It consists of a bank manager, a director of a life-insurance institution, two schoolmasters, an attorney, a lieutenant-colonel, a naval officer, two artisans and a “disvacheur” (!). It can be seen what sort of intellectual forces are at the disposal of the “Hovedstad'”. [Capital]

The Prussian Government is unfortunate. In the Danish affair too it has managed to give Prussia a reputation for ambiguity which almost verges on treason against both sides. This ambiguity has always been a well-known feature of Prussian policy; we need only think of the “Great” Elector’s [Frederick William] betrayal of Poland when he suddenly went over to Sweden, of the Basle Peace, of 1805 and more recently of the ambiguity through which the Ministry enticed Poland into the trap[1]. And now, in the Danish affair, the Prussian Government has abused the interests of the German people and not even earned a word of thanks from Denmark. Let us listen to what the Faedreland says:

“According to the note of the Prussian Prime Minister Auerswald ,(to the Provisional Government in Rendsburg), which we publish below, it is plain that Prussia is playing a very ambiguous role. In the first place it is extremely surprising that the Prussian Government should have any dealings at all with the rebel Government in the duchies. Furthermore, Herr Auerswald has in more than one respect completely twisted the meaning of the terms of the armistice. Although the armistice was in no way intended to furnish any basis for a final peace, Herr Auerswald nonetheless claims that through it conditions are being prepared that will bring about a favourable final solution. He talks further of the significance of the terms whereby the federal troops are to remain in Schleswig and the Schleswig-Holstein army corps is to continue at its present strength, even though the armistice stipulates that the Schleswig and the Holstein troops should be separated and the federal troops remain in Altona. Lastly, he puts forward a similar falsehood when he says that the legal situation in the duchies is to continue on its present basis, whereas the armistice says that the decrees issued since March 17 both by the King of Denmark and by the Provisional Government should be repealed. As regards the Central Authority, it has shown such a lack of firmness towards the Assembly in its negotiations over Limburg [2] that from that side one can really expect anything.”

  1. In 1648 Frederick William, the Elector of Brandenburg, supported the candidature of John Casimir to the Polish throne; in 1656, after taking advantage of the King of Poland’s difficult situation he concluded a military pact with Charles Gustav, King of Sweden, and supported his claims to the Polish crown. In the war of 1655-60 between Sweden and Poland, he manoeuvred between the warring parties and thus secured the final incorporation of Eastern Prussia in Brandenburg. On April 5, 1795, in Basle, Prussia concluded a separate peace treaty with France, the first anti-French coalition having already begun to disintegrate. In November 1805, Russia and Prussia concluded a convention in Potsdam on joint action against Napoleonic France. The Prussian Government undertook to join the third anti-French coalition (Britain, Austria, Russia and Naples), but after the defeat sustained by the Austrian and Russian armies at Austerlitz, it renounced its obligations
  2. This refers to the debate in the Frankfurt National Assembly in the summer and autumn of 1848 on the status of Limburg, a province of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, then part of the German Confederation. Numerous explanations on this subject were offered to the Assembly by representatives of the so-called Central Authority (the Imperial Ministry)