Ernst Moritz Arndt

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Author(s) Friedrich Engels
Written October 1840

Written: in October-December 1840
First published: in Telegraph für Deutschland Nos. 2-5, January 1841

Engels wrote this article following the publication, in Leipzig in 1840, of Arndt’s book Erinnerungen aus dem äusseren Leben. The editors of the Telegraph für Deutschland provided the name of the author, F. Oswald (Engels’ pen-name), with an asterisk referring the reader to the following footnote: “A much discussed publication, reviewed by the Telegraph.”

Telegraph für Deutschland No. 2, January 1841[edit source]

Like the faithful Eckart of the legend, old Arndt stands on the Rhine and warns the youth of Germany, who for many years now have been gazing across to the French Venusberg and the seductive, passionate maidens, the ideas, [1] that beckon from its pinnacles. But the wild youths do not heed the old hero and storm across, and not all of them remain in enervated prostration like the new Tannhäuser Heine.

This is Arndt’s position in relation to the German youth of today. Though all hold him in high esteem, his ideal of German life does not satisfy them; they want more freedom to act, fuller, more exuberant vitality, ardent, impetuous throbbing in the veins of world history which carry Germany’s life-blood. Hence the sympathy for France, not, of course, the sympathy of submission about which the French romance, but that loftier and freer form whose nature has been so admirably set forth by Börne in his Franzosenfresser, in contrast to Germanising one-sidedness.

Arndt has sensed that the present is estranged from him, that it does not respect him for his thought but respects his thought for the sake of his strong, manly personality. Hence, as a man whose life had been given meaning both by his talent and conviction and by the course of developments over a number of years, he was faced with the duty of leaving his nation a memorial of his cultural development, his way of thinking and his times, which he has done in his much discussed Erinnerungen aus dem äussern Leben.

Disregarding its trend for the moment, Arndt’s book is also aesthetically a most interesting publication. This concise, pithy language has not been heard in our literature for a long time and deserves to make a lasting impression on many of the young generation. Better firm than flabby! There are, of course, authors for whom the essence of the modern style is that every ripple of the muscles, every taut sinew of speech should be prettily enveloped in soft flesh, even at the risk of appearing effeminate. No, give me the manly, bony structure of Arndt’s style rather than the spongy manner of certain “modern” stylists! Particularly since Arndt has avoided the idiosyncrasies of his comrades of 1813 so far as possible and comes near to affectation only in the absolute use of the superlative (as in the southern Romance languages). Nor should one look in him for that repulsive mixing of languages which has again become the fashion; on the contrary, he shows how few alien shoots we need graft on our language without being at a loss. The carriage of our thoughts does indeed run better on most roads with German rather than French or Greek horses’, a fact which ridicule of the extremes of the puristic trend does not alter.

Let us now examine the book more closely. Most of it is taken up with the idyll of his early life, which is drawn with a genuinely poetic hand. Anyone who has spent his first years as Arndt did, can be eternally thankful to God! Not in the dust of a big city, where the joys of the individual are crushed by the interests of the whole, not in children’s homes or philanthropic prisons, where budding vigour is blunted; no, it was under the open sky in fields and woods that nature formed the man of steel at whom an effeminate generation gazes as at a northern warrior. The great plastic force with which Arndt depicts this period of his life almost compels one to believe that all idyllic composition are superfluous as long as our authors experience such idylls as Arndt did. What will appear most strange to our century is the self-discipline of the young Arndt, which combines German chastity with Spartan vigour. But this vigour, so naive, so free from any Jahn-like bragging, as it hums to itself its hoc tibi proderit olim [this will come in handy one day], cannot be recommended enough to our stay-at-home youths. Young men who shun cold water like mad dogs, who put on three or four layers of clothing when the weather is the least bit frosty, who make it a point of honour to obtain exemption from military service on grounds of physical weakness, are truly a fine support for the Fatherland! As for chastity, it is regarded as a crime even to speak of it in an age where one’s first inquiry in every town is the way to the “gate where the last of The houses stand”. [From Goethe’s ballad Der Gott und die Bajadere] I am certainly no abstract moralist, I detest all ascetic nonsense, and shall never pass judgment on fallen love; but it grieves me that moral seriousness threatens to disappear and that sensuality strives to set itself up as the highest good. The emancipation of the flesh in practice will always have to blush beside an Arndt.

With the year 1800 Arndt enters the profession allotted to him. Napoleon’s armies flood Europe, and as the French Emperor’s power increases Arndt’s hatred of him grows; the, Greifswald professor protests in the name of Germany against the oppression and has to flee. At last the German nation rises up and Arndt returns. We could wish that this part of the book contained more detail; Arndt retires modestly into the background before the arming of the nation and its deeds. Instead of leaving us to guess that he was not inactive he should have described his part in the developments of the time in greater detail, and told us the history of these days from the subjective standpoint. Later events are treated still more briefly. What is remarkable here is on the one hand the increasingly pronounced tendency to orthodoxy in religious matters, on the other the mysterious, almost servile, kiss-the-rod manner in which Arndt speaks of his suspension. But those who find this strange will have been convinced by Arndt’s statements issued recently in the public press, in which he regards his reinstatement as an act of justice, not of grace and favour, that he still possesses his ‘ old firmness and determination.

Arndt’s book gains particular importance, however, from the simultaneous publication of a mass of memoirs on the war of liberation. The glorious period when the German nation, for the first time in centuries, rose once more in all its power and greatness and opposed foreign oppression is vividly brought close to us again. And we Germans cannot recall these battles often enough if we are to keep awake our somnolent national consciousness; of course not in the sense of a party which believes it has now done everything and regards itself complacently in the mirror of history, resting on the laurels of 1813, but rather in the opposite sense. For the greatest result of the struggle was not the shaking off of foreign rule, whose elaborate artificiality, resting as it did solely on the Atlas shoulders of Napoleon, was bound to come crashing down of its own accord sooner or later, nor was it the “freedom” which was won; it was the deed itself, or rather an aspect of it, which only very few people at the time clearly sensed. That we became conscious of the loss of our national sanctuaries, that we armed ourselves without waiting for the most gracious permission of the sovereigns, that we actually compelled those in power to take their place at our head [Cf, K. Bade, Napoleon im jahre 1813, Altona, 1840 — Note by F. Engels], in short, that for a moment we acted as the source of state power, as a sovereign nation, that was the greatest gain of those years, and therefore after the war the men who had felt this most clearly and had acted accordingly with the greatest resolution, were bound to appear dangerous to the governments. — But how soon the moving power went to sleep again! The bane of disunity absorbed for the parts the impulse so much needed for the whole, split the general German interest into a multitude of provincial interests and made it impossible to provide Germany with a foundation for state life such as Spain created for herself in the Constitution of 1812. [2] On the contrary, the gentle spring rain of general promises which surprised us from the “higher regions” was too much for our hearts bowed down by oppression, and we fools did not reflect that there are promises the breaking of which can never be excused from the point of view of the nation, but very easily from that of the individual. (?) Then came the Congresses [3] giving the Germans time to sleep off their intoxication with freedom and wake up to find themselves back in the old relationship of Your Most Gracious Majesty and Your Most Humble Servant. Those who had not yet lost their old aspirations, and could not reconcile themselves to having no active part in the life of the nation, were driven by all the forces of the time into the blind alley of Germanisation. Only a few distinguished spirits broke out of the labyrinth and found the path which leads to true freedom.

The Germanisers wanted to complete the facts of the war of liberation and to free a now materially independent Germany from foreign intellectual hegemony as well. But for that very reason Germanisation was negation, and the positive elements with which it plumed itself lay buried in an unclarity from which they never quite emerged; what did come up into the daylight of reason was for the most part paradoxical enough. Its whole world view was philosophically without foundation since it held that the entire world was created for the sake of the Germans, and the Germans themselves had long since arrived at the highest stage of evolution. The Germanising trend was negation, abstraction in the Hegelian sense. It created abstract Germans by stripping off everything that had not descended from national roots over sixty-four purely German generations. Even its seemingly positive features were negative, for Germany could only be led towards its ideals by negating a whole century and her development, and thus its intention was to push the nation back into the German Middle Ages or even into the primeval German purity of the Teutoburger Wald. Jahn embodied this trend in its extreme. This one-sidedness turned the Germans into the chosen people of Israel and ignored all the innumerable seeds of world history which had grown on soil that was not German. It is against the French especially, whose invasion had been repulsed and whose hegemony in external matters is based on the fact that they master, more easily than all nations at least, the form of European culture, namely, civilisation — it is against the. French that the iconoclastic fury was directed most of all. The great, eternal achievements of the revolution were abhorred as “foreign frivolities” or even “foreign lies and falsehoods”; no one thought of the kinship between this stupendous act of the people and the national uprising of 1813; that which Napoleon had introduced, the emancipation of the Israelites, trial by jury, sound civil law in place of the pandects, [4] was condemned solely because of its initiator. Hatred of the French became a duty. Every kind of thinking which could rise to a higher viewpoint was condemned as un-German. Hence patriotism too was essentially negative and left the Fatherland without support in the struggle of the age, while it went to great pains to invent bombastic German expressions for foreign words which had long been assimilated into German. If this trend had been concretely German, if it had taken the German for what he had become in two thousand years of history, if it had not overlooked the truest element of our destiny, namely, to be the pointer on the scales of European history, to watch over the development of the neighbouring nations, it would have avoided all its mistakes — On the other hand, one must not ignore the fact that Germanisation was a necessary stage in the formation of our national spirit and that together with the succeeding stage it formed the contrast on whose shoulders the modern world view rests.

Telegraph für Deutschland No. 3, January 1841[edit source]

This contrast to the Germanising trend was the cosmopolitan liberalism of the South-German estates which worked for the negation of national differences and the formation of a great, free, united humanity. It corresponded to religious rationalism and stemmed from the same source, the philanthropy of the previous century, whereas the Germanising trend consistently led to theological orthodoxy, at which almost all its adherents (Arndt, Steffens, Menzel) arrived in due course. The one-sidedness of cosmopolitan liberalism has so often been exposed by its opponents, albeit in a one-sided fashion, that I can be brief where this trend is concerned. The July revolution at first seemed to favour it, but this event was exploited by all parties. The actual destruction of the Germanising trend or rather of its propagating power dates from the July revolution and was inherent in it. Yet so was the collapse of the cosmopolitan trend; for the overwhelming significance of the great week [The events of the July revolution in France (July 27-August 2, 1830)] was the restitution of the French nation in its position as a great power, whereby the other nations were compelled to close their ranks as well.

Even before this latest world-shaking event two men had been working quietly on the development of the German, or as it is preferably called the modern, spirit, two men who almost ignored each other in their lifetime and whose complementary relationship was not to be recognised until after their death, Börne and Hegel. Börne has often and most unjustly been branded as a cosmopolitan, but he was more German than his opponents. The Hallische Jahrbücher has recently linked a discussion of “political practice” with the name of Herr von Florencourt [5]; but he is certainly not its representative. He stands at the point where the extremes of the Germanising trend and cosmopolitanism meet, as happened in the Burschenschaften, [6] and was only superficially affected by the later developments of the national spirit. The man of political practice is Börne, and his place in history is that he fulfilled this calling perfectly. He tore the ostentatious finery off the Germanising trend and also unmercifully exposed the shame of cosmopolitanism, which merely had impotent, more pious wishes. He confronted the Germans with the words of the Cid: Lengua sin manos, cuemo osas fablar? [Tongue without hands, how dare you speak? (Poema del Cid.)] No one has described the glory of the deed like Börne. With him all is life, all is vigour. Only of his writings can it be said that they are deeds for freedom. Do not speak to me here of “reasoned definitions”, of “finite categories"! The manner in which Börne understood the position of the European nations and their destiny is not speculative. Yet Börne was the first to show the relationship of Germany and France in its reality and thereby did a greater service to the idea than the Hegelians, who were meanwhile learning Hegel’s Enzyklopädie by heart and thought that they had thereby done enough for the century. That same portrayal also proves how high Börne stands above the level of cosmopolitanism. Rational one-sidedness was as necessary for Börne as excessive schematism for Hegel; but instead of understanding this we do not get beyond the crude and often false axioms of the Briefe aus Paris.

By the side of Börne and opposed to him, Hegel, the man of thought, presented big already completed system to the nation. Authority did not take the trouble to work its way through the abstruse forms of Hegel’s system and his brazen style; but then, how could it have known that this philosophy would venture from the quiet haven of theory onto the stormy sea of actuality, that it was already brandishing its sword in order to strike directly against existing practice? For Hegel himself was such a solid, orthodox man, whose polemic was directed at precisely those trends which the state power rejected, at rationalism and cosmopolitan liberalism! But the gentlemen at the helm did not appreciate that these trends were only combated in order to make room for the higher, that the new teaching must first root itself in recognition of the nation before it could freely develop its living consequences. When Börne attacked Hegel he was perfectly right from his standpoint, but when authority protected Hegel, when it elevated his teaching almost to a Prussian philosophy of the state, it laid itself open to attack, a fact which it now evidently regrets. Or did Altenstein, whose more advanced standpoint was a legacy of a more liberal age, receive such a free hand here that everything was laid to his account? Be that as it may, when after Hegel’s death the fresh air of life breathed upon his doctrine, the “Prussian philosophy of the state” sprouted shoots of which no party had ever dreamt. Strauss will remain epoch-making in the theological field, Gans and Ruge in the political. Only now do the faint nebulae of speculation resolve themselves into the shining stars of the ideas which are to light the movement of the century. One may accuse Ruge’s aesthetic criticism of being prosaic and confined within the schematism of the doctrine; yet credit must go to him for showing the political side of the Hegelian system to be in accord with the spirit of the time and for restoring it in the nation’s esteem. Gans had done this only indirectly, by carrying the philosophy of history forward into the present; Ruge openly expressed the liberalism of Hegelianism, and Köppen supported him; neither was afraid of incurring enmity, both pursuing their course, even at the risk of a split in the school, and all due respect to their courage for it! The enthusiastic, unshakeable confidence in the idea, inherent in the New Hegelianism, is the sole fortress in which the liberals can find safe retreat whenever reaction gains a temporary advantage over them with aid from above.

These are the most recent developments of German political consciousness, and the task of our age is to complete the fusion of Hegel and Börne. There is already a good deal of Börne in Young Hegelianism, and Börne would have little hesitation in signing many an article in the Hallische Jahrbücher. However, the combining of thought and action is in part not yet conscious enough, in part it has not yet penetrated the nation. Börne is still looked upon by many as the exact opposite of Hegel, but just as Hegel’s practical importance for the present (not his philosophical significance for eternity) is not to be judged by the pure theory of his system, neither is Börne to be flatly rejected because of his one-sidedness and his extravagances, which have never been denied.

Telegraph für Deutschland No. 4, January 1841[edit source]

I trust that I have characterised the attitude of the Germanising trend to the present day sufficiently and may now proceed to a detailed review of the trend’s individual aspects as expounded by Arndt in his book. The wide gulf which separates Arndt from the present generation is expressed most clearly in the fact that he is indifferent to those matters of state for which we sacrifice our life-blood. Arndt declares himself a decided monarchist; good. Yet he never once discusses whether the monarchy is to be constitutional or absolute. The point of difference is this: Arndt and his whole company believe that the well-being of the state consists in sovereign and people being attached to each other by sincere love and co-operating with each other in the striving for the common good. We, however, are convinced that the relationship between the governing and the governed must first be regulated by law before it can become and remain amicable. First law, then equity! Where is there a sovereign so bad that he does not love his people and is not loved by them — I speak here of Germany — simply because he is their sovereign? But where is there a sovereign who can claim to have brought his people any real advance since 1815? Is it not all our own work; is not what we own our in spite of control and supervision? It is all very fine to talk of the love between a sovereign and his people, and since the great poet [An ironical reference to Balthasar Gerhard Schumacher] of “Heil Dir im Siegerkranz” sang that “a free man’s love makes the steep heights secure where sovereigns stand”, ever since then infinite nonsense has been talked about it. The kind of government threatening us from a certain quarter might be called an up-to-date reaction. Patrimonial courts to promote the formation of a high aristocracy; guilds to reawaken a “respectable” burgher estate; encouragement of all so-called historical seeds, which in reality are old, cut-off stalks.

But it is not only in this respect that the Germanising trend has let itself be cheated of freedom of thought by a determined reaction; its ideas on the constitution are the whispered promptings of the gentlemen of the Berliner politisches Wochenblatt. It was painful to see how even the solid, quiet Arndt allowed himself to be dazzled by the sophisticated glitter of the “organic state”. Phrases about historical development, making use of the given factors, organism, and so on, must once have possessed a charm which entirely eludes us now because we realise that they are mostly fine words which do not seriously mean what they actually signify. Challenge these ghosts point-blank! What do you understand by the organic state? A state whose institutions have grown with and out of the nation in the course of the centuries, and which have not been constructed from theory. Very well; now apply this to Germany! This organism is supposed to consist of the citizens being divided into nobility, burghers and peasants, and everything else that goes with it. All this is supposed to lie hidden in nuce in the word organism. Is that not deplorable, shameful sophistry? Self-development of the nation, does that not look exactly like freedom? You grasp at it with both hands and what you get is the full burden of the Middle Ages and the ancien regime. Fortunately this sleight-of-hand cannot be laid to Arndt’s account. Not the supporters of division into estates, but we, its opponents, want an organic state life. The point at the moment is not “construction from theory”; it is what they want to blind us with: the self-development of the nation. We alone are serious and sincere about it. But these gentlemen do not know that every organism becomes inorganic as soon as it dies; they set the corpses of the past in motion with their galvanic wires and try to fool us that this is not a mechanism but life. They want to promote the self-development of the nation and fasten the ball and chain of absolutism to its ankle so that it will go ahead more quickly. They do not want to know that what they call theory, ideology, or God knows what, has long passed into the blood and sap of the nation and in part has already come to life; that not we, therefore, but they have lost their way in the utopias of theory. For that which was indeed still theory half a century ago has developed as an independent element in the state organism since the revolution. Moreover, and this is the main thing, does the development of mankind not rank above that of the nation?

And what about the estates? The dividing line between burghers and peasants simply does not exist; not even the historical school [7] takes it seriously; it is put there only pro forma, to make the separation of the nobility more plausible to us. Everything turns on the nobility. When the nobility goes, so does the estates system. And with the nobility’s position as an estate things look even worse than with its composition [A pun on the German words Stand and Bestand]. An entailed hereditary estate is absolute nonsense according to modern conceptions. Not in the Middle Ages, of course. In those days in the free cities of the Empire (as in Bremen, for example, even today) there were hereditary guilds with hereditary privileges, pure bakers’ blood and pure pewterers’ blood. Indeed, what is the pride of the nobility compared with the consciousness: My ancestors have been beer-brewers for twenty generations We still have butchers’, or in the more poetical Bremen name, bone-choppers’ blood in the nobility, since the military profession, laid down by Herr Fouqué as proper to it, is continual butchery and bone-chopping. For the nobility to regard itself as an estate, when no calling is exclusively reserved for it under the law of any state, neither the military nor that of the large landowner, is ridiculous arrogance. Anything written on the nobility could have as a motto this line by the troubadour William of Poitiers: “I'll make a song about sheer nothing.” And since the nobility feels its own inner nothingness, no nobleman can hide the pain of it, from the very intelligent Baron of Sternberg to the very unintelligent C. L. F. W. G. von Alvensleben. The tolerance which would leave the nobility the pleasure of regarding itself as something special so long as it does not demand any privileges is most misplaced. For as long as the nobility represents something special, it will desire and must have privileges. We stand by our demand: No estates, but a great, united nation of citizens with equal rights!

Telegraph für Deutschland No. 5, January 1841[edit source]

Another thing which Arndt demands of his state is entails, in general an agrarian legislation laying down fixed conditions for landed property. Apart from its general importance, this point also deserves attention because here too the up-to-date reaction already mentioned threatens to put things back on the footing before 1789. How many have been raised to the nobility recently on condition that they institute an entail guaranteeing the prosperity of the family! — Arndt is definitely against the unlimited freedom and divisibility of landed property; he sees as its inevitable consequence the division of the land into plots none of which could support its owner. But he fails to see that complete freeing of the land provides the means of restoring in general the balance which in individual cases it may, of course, upset. While the complicated legislation in most German states and Arndt’s equally complicated proposals will never eliminate, but only aggravate anomalies in agrarian relations, they also hinder a voluntary return to the proper order in the event of any dislocation, necessitate extraordinary interference by the state and hinder the progress of this legislation by a hundred petty but unavoidable private considerations. By contrast, freedom of the land allows no extremes to arise, neither the development of big landowners into an aristocracy, nor the splitting up of fields into patches so small as to become useless. If one scale of the balance goes down too far, the content of the other soon becomes concentrated in compensation. And even if landed property were to fly from hand to hand I would rather have the surging ocean with its grand freedom than the narrow inland lake with its quiet surface, whose miniature waves are broken every three steps by a spit of land, the root of a tree, or a stone. It is not merely that the permission to entail means the consent of the state to the formation of an aristocracy; no, this fettering of landed property, like all entails, works directly towards a revolution. When the best part of the land is welded to individual families and made inaccessible to all other citizens, is not that a direct provocation of the people? Does not the right of primogeniture rest on a view of property which has long ceased to correspond to our ideas? As if one generation had the right to dispose absolutely of the property of all future generations, which at the moment it enjoys and administers, as if the freedom of property were not destroyed by so disposing of it that all descendants are robbed of this freedom! As if human beings could thus be tied to the soil for all eternity Incidentally, landed property well deserves the attention which Arndt devotes to it and the importance of the subject would certainly merit thorough discussion from the highest standpoint of the present time. Previous theories all suffer from the hereditary disease of German men of learning who think they must assert their independence by each having a separate system of his own.

If the retrograde aspects of Germanisation deserve closer examination partly for the sake of the revered man, who defends them as his own convictions, partly because of the favour which they have found of late in Prussia, another of its tendencies must be all the more decisively rejected because it is again threatening to prevail among us: hatred of the French. I will not join issue with Arndt and the other men of 1813, but the servile twaddle which without any principle all newspapers now serve up against the French is utterly repulsive to me. It requires a high degree of obsequiousness to be convinced by the July convention [8] that the Eastern question is a matter of life or death for Germany and that Mohammed Ali endangers our nationhood. By supporting the Egyptian, France has from that standpoint indeed committed against the German nation the same crime of which she became guilty at the beginning of the century. It is sad that for half a year already one has not been able to open a newspaper without meeting this newly awakened French-eating fury. And what is it for? To give the Russians enough additional land and the English enough trading power so that they can get us Germans in a vice and crush us to smithereens! The stable principle of England and the system of Russia, these are the sworn enemies of European progress, not France and her movement. But because two German sovereigns have found it proper to join the convention, the affair has suddenly become a German concern, France is the old godless, “Gallic” sworn enemy, and the perfectly natural arming of a truly insulted France is a crime against the German nation. The ridiculous clamour of a few French journalists for the Rhine frontier is thought worthy of lengthy rejoinders, which are unfortunately never read by Frenchmen, and Becker’s song “They shall not have it"’ ["Sie sollen ihn nicht haben” — the first line of N. Becker’s song Der deutsche Rhein ] is par force turned into a folk-song. I do not grudge Becker his song’s success and I will not examine its poetic content, I am even glad to hear such expressions of German sentiment from the left bank of the Rhine, but I share the view of the articles already published in this journal which have just come to hand that it is ridiculous to want to elevate this modest poem into a national anthem. “They shall not have it.” So again negative? Can you be satisfied with a negative folk -song? Can German nationhood find support solely in polemic against foreign countries? The text of the Marseillaise is not worth much in spite of all its enthusiasm, but how much more noble is its reaching out beyond nationality to mankind. And now, after Burgundy and Lorraine have been torn from us, after we have let Flanders become French and Holland and Belgium independent, after France has already advanced in Alsace as far as the Rhine and only a relatively small part of the once German left bank of the Rhine is still ours, we are not ashamed to talk big and to write: at least you shall not have the last piece. Oh, the Germans! And if the French had the Rhine, we would cry with the most ridiculous pride: they shall not have it, the free German Weser, and so on to the Elbe and Oder, until Germany was divided up between France and Russia, and it was only left for us to sing: they shall not have it, the free stream of German theory, so long as it calmly flows into the ocean of infinity, so long as a single unpractical ideal fish flaps a fin on its bottom! Instead of which we should do penance in sackcloth and ashes for the sins through which we have lost all those beautiful lands, for the disunity and the betrayal of the idea, for the provincial patriotism which deserts the whole for the sake of local advantage, and for the lack of national consciousness. True, it is a fixed idea with the French that the Rhine is their property, but to this arrogant demand the only reply worthy of the German nation is Arndt’s: “Give back Alsace and Lorraine[”

For I am of the opinion, perhaps in contrast to many whose standpoint I share in other respects, that the reconquest of the German-speaking left bank of the Rhine is a matter of national honour, and that the Germanisation of a disloyal Holland and of Belgium is a political necessity for us. Shall we let the German nationality be completely suppressed in these countries, while the Slavs are rising ever more powerfully in the east? Shall we give up the Germanness of our most beautiful provinces to buy the friendship of France; possession going back barely a century which could not even assimilate what was conquered-shah we accept this and the treaties of 1815 [the decisions of the Vienna Congress] as a judgment of the world spirit against which there is no appeal?

On the other hand, however, we are not worthy of the Alsatians so long as we cannot give them what they now have: a free public life in a great state. Without doubt, there will be another war between us and France, and then we shall see who is worthy of the left bank of the Rhine. Until then we can well leave the question to the development of our nationhood and of the world spirit, until then let us work for a clear, mutual understanding among the European nations and strive for the inner unity which is our prime need and the basis of our future freedom. So long as our Fatherland remains split we shall be politically null, and public life, developed constitutionalism, freedom of the press, and all else that we demand will be mere pious wishes always only half-fulfilled; so let us strive for this and not for the extirpation of the French! Nevertheless, Germanising negation has still not fully completed its task: there is still plenty to be sent home over the Alps, the Rhine, and the Vistula. The Russians can have the pentarchy[9], the Italians their papism with all its hangers-on, their Bellini, Donizetti and even Rossini if they want to make him out greater than Mozart and Beethoven, and the French their arrogant opinion of us, their vaudevilles and operas, their Scribe and Adam. We want to chase all these crazy foreign habits and fashions, all the superfluous foreign words back whence they came; we want to cease to be the dupes of foreigners and want to stand together as a single, indivisible, strong, and with God’s will free German nation.

F. Oswald

  1. Engels is comparing Arndt to Eckart, a hero from medieval German tales, who in the Tannhäuser legend stands on guard at Venusberg and warns those approaching of the danger of Venus’ charms
  2. The Constitution of 1812, adopted in the interests of the liberal nobility and the liberal bourgeoisie, limited the king’s power by diets and did away with certain survivals of feudalism. The return to power of the feudal and clerical forces after the country’s liberation from Napoleon’s rule led, in 1814, to the repeal of this constitution, which became the banner of the liberal constitutionalist movement in Spain and other European countries
  3. This refers to the congresses of the Holy Alliance (founded by the Vienna Congress on September 26, 1815) held in Aachen (1818), Troppau (1820), Laibach (1821) and Verona (1822), at which the European monarchs and their ministers worked out measures for protecting “legitimist” regimes restored after the victory over Napoleon and for suppressing revolutionary and national liberation movements.
  4. In 1804, in France and subsequently some countries in Western and South Western Europe which were dependent on Napoleon (Italy, the Netherlands, the Kingdom of Westphalia, Belgium and others), a Civil Code (Code Napoleon) was introduced instead of the archaic private law based largely on pandects, part of the Roman Code drawn up in 528-34 under Justinian I, Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire
  5. The Hallische Jahrbücher für deutsche Wissenschaft und Kunst Nos. 281 and 282, for November 23 and 24, 1840, carried Arnold Ruge’s review of Florencourt’s book Politische-kirchliche und literarische Zustände in Deutschland. Ein journalistischer Beitrag zu den jahren 1838 und 1839, Leipzig, 1840. The review was entitled “Friedrich von Florencourt und die Kategorieen der politischen Praxis
  6. The Burschenschaften (fraternities) were German student organisations that arose in the course of liberation war against Napoleon. They advocated German unification, but Right-wing nationalistic views were also current among them
  7. The historical school of law — a trend in German historiography and jurisprudence in the late 18th century. The representatives of this school, Gustav Hugo, Friedrich Karl von Savigny and others, sought to justify the privileges of the nobility and feudal institutions by referring to the inviolability of historical traditions
  8. This refers to the London Convention concluded on July 15, 1840, between England, Russia, Austria and Prussia, on. the one hand, and Turkey, on the other, on rendering military aid to the Turkish Sultan against the Egyptian Pasha Mohammed Ali, who was supported by France
  9. Pentarchy — Europe’s political system in the period of the Restoration. It was based on the supremacy of the five Great Powers, England, France, Russia, Austria and Prussia.