Decision of the Berlin National Assembly

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Author(s) Karl Marx
Written 11 November 1848


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Source: Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volume 8, p. 20
First published: in Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 141 (special edition), November 12, 1848.
Collection(s): Neue Rheinische Zeitung

Equitable Labour Exchange Bazaars or Offices (the name is given in English in the German original) were founded by the workers’ co-operative societies in various towns of England in 1832. This movement was headed by Robert Owen, who founded such a bazaar in London. The products of labour at these bazaars were exchanged for a kind of paper “money” issued as labour “tickets”, a working hour being the unit. These bazaars were an attempt by the utopians to organise exchange without money in the conditions of capitalist commodity production and soon proved to be a failure.

Berlin, November 11, 7.45 p.m.

About 6 o'clock news came that Rimpler had been ordered to hand over all arms of the civic militia by 4 o'clock tomorrow. In the meantime the Assembly had adopted the following decision:

1) That General Brandenburg is guilty of high treason; 2) that the civic militia shall not give up its arms and, if necessary, shall repel force by force; 3) that any officer who gives the order to fire against citizens shall be charged with high treason. — In addition, a commission was appointed to discuss the question of tax refusal.

At its morning sitting the Assembly had already appointed a commission to discuss tax refusal.
When the National Assembly reached the playhouse, they found the entrance barred. Inside a company of soldiers was bivouacking. Their captain refused to allow Herr von Unruh to enter. The National Assembly then proceeded from there to the assembly hall, where they were likewise refused admittance. They then met in the Hotel de Russie.
Evening of November 11. The National Assembly transferred its afternoon sitting to the shooting-gallery in Lindenstrasse. On Monday it will move into the Köllnische Rathaus.[1] From what I hear, the Stock Exchange has offered credit and the city councillors are willing to guarantee the deputies’ allowances. Several deputations from Spandau, Magdeburg and Pomerania have arrived here to acknowledge the authority of the Assembly.
During the course of the day a “proclamation” of the King was published, countersigned by the Ministers. This proclamation, which is reminiscent of similar proclamations by Dom Miguel seeks to justify the prorogation of the National Assembly. A second royal decree disbands the civic militia; and a third appoints Rintelen chief presiding judge of the Court of Appeal at Naumburg, to he Minister of Justice. [Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 142, November 14, 1848]

The royal Supreme Court asked by Herr Bornemann whether the Crown had the right to prorogue, to transfer or to close down the National Assembly convened here in the name of the whole country, replied with a unanimous “No!"
In Berlin the rumour was circulating that at Breslau the troops have been driven out of the town and Brandenburg’s hotel destroyed.
We cannot give credence to this rumour, for a letter which has just reached us from Breslau, dated 1 o'clock in the morning of November 11, contains no mention of this. The main contents of this letter are as follows:
At its sitting on November 10 the Central Committee of the civic militia decided to request that the City Council (and the City Councillors) take steps for the immediate general arming of all men capable of bearing arms and declare that it will recognise and protect the National Assembly under all circumstances and acknowledge it as the only seat of government. The Oberpräsident declared to a deputation sent to meet him that he would not go beyond the law, but that he would never undertake any action against the National Assembly, nor lend his hand to such action. He would resign from office immediately if he was asked to do anything contrary to the law. He did not recognise the necessity for prorogation of the National Assembly.
The Chief of Police, who was also present, gave his support to these declarations. He did not recognise any right to dissolve the Chamber and would immediately resign from office if anything of the sort were to happen.
The Central Committee of the Breslau civic militia has declared itself a permanent body.

Since the National Assembly has declared Prime Minister Brandenburg guilty of high treason, the obligation to pay taxes automatically ceases, for it would be impermissible to support his treasonable administration with taxes. — Therefore, to pay taxes is now tantamount to high treason and refusal to pay taxes is the primary duty of the citizen.

  1. The Kölnische Rathaus (Cologne Town Hall) was situated in the centre of Berlin which in the middle of the nineteenth century was still called Kölln or Altkölln (Old Cologne)