Letter to Wilhelm Liebknecht, April 6, 1871

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Author(s) Karl Marx
Written 6 April 1871

First published abridged, in Russian, in Pravda, No. 75, 17 March 1931 and in full in Marx-Engels Archives, Vol. I (VI), Moscow, 1932

Extract published in Marx and Engels Correspondence; International Publishers (1968);

Published in English in full for the first time in Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volume 44
Collection(s): Pravda

To Wilhelm Liebknecht in Leipzig

London, April 6 1871[edit source]

Dear Liebknecht,

The news that you and Bebel as well as the Brunswick people were released was received here in the Central Council with great rejoicing.

It appears that the defeat of the Parisians was their own fault, but a fault which really arose from their too great honnêteté [decency]. The Central Committee and later the Commune gave the mischievous avorton Thiers time to centralise hostile forces, in the first place by their folly in trying not to start civil war--as if Thiers had not started it by his attempt at the forcible disarming of Paris, as if the National Assembly, which was only summoned to decide the question of war or peace with the Prussians, had not immediately declared war on the Republic! In order that the appearance of having usurped power should not attach to them they lost precious moments--(they should immediately have advanced on Versailles after the defeat (Place Vendôme) of the reaction in Paris)--by the election of the Commune, the organisation of which, etc., cost yet more time.

You must not believe a word of all the stuff you may see in the papers about the internal events in Paris. It is all lies and deception. Never has the vileness of bourgeois journalism displayed itself more brilliantly.

It is highly characteristic that the German Unity-Emperor and Unity-Parliament in Berlin appear not to exist at all for the outside world. Every breath of wind that stirs in Paris excites more interest.

You must carefully follow what is happening in the Danubian Principalities. If the revolution in France is temporarily defeated--the movement there can only be suppressed for a short time--there will be a new business of war for Europe beginning in the East, and Rumania will offer the orthodox tsar[1] the first pretext for it. So look out on that side.

One of the most comical phenomena in London is undoubtedly that ex-student Karl Blind. The self-important fellow eagerly seized on the recent war to show off his pan-Germanic allegiance. He was the first to start screaming for Alsace-Lorraine. He even had the impudence to deny the great revolutionary activities of the French people in the past. The scoundrel even ventured to warn the local workers not to incur the hostility of workers in Germany by their sympathy for France against Prussia! Each week this gentleman composes a report describing the activities of Karl Blind and sends it to all the London papers, two or three of which are actually so foolish as to print these bulletins of, about and for Karl Blind. If this system is applied consistently, one cannot fail to force oneself on the public in the end. In this manner this weighty personage has managed to delude a section of local public opinion into believing that he plays the same sort of role in Germany as Mazzini used to in Italy. In his bulletins he recounts what Karl Blind had announced in the Viennese Freie Presse, and how the whole of Germany looked forward to his oracular utterances with bated breath and anxiously awaited for Karl Blind to deliver himself of the watchword for the week. Now it would be extremely desirable—since this individual, this puffed-up frog, does make us Germans here ridiculous—if you people in the Volksstaat could publish a few home truths about the fellow and his ‘complete unimportance’. We would ensure that a translation appeared in The Eastern Post (a London workers’ paper). It is quite simple. Karl Blind does not exist in the eyes of the German working class, and a republican German middle class, whose MOUTHPIECE he pretends to be, does not exist anywhere and hence cannot exist for Karl Blind either. HE IS NOWHERE. While such figures should not be taken seriously, it is no less true that they should not be allowed to delude the public ON FALSE PRETENCES.

Laura had already arrived in Bordeaux some days before the siege of Paris began.

Our children—Tussy and Jennychen (the latter suffering from pleurisy)—are also going to Bordeaux shortly.

Bebel would oblige me greatly if he could arrange for me to be sent regularly the stenographic reports of the Berlin Unity-Reichstag.

A visit from you here would be very welcome.

The Volksstaat must be preserved at all costs now. I have some prospects of being able to raise money for it.

My warmest greetings to your dear wife.[2]


K. M.

Could you not let me have a reliable address in Leipzig?

Apropos. I enclose a charming notice about Stieber from the Petit Journal (which appears in Paris) in its issue of 5 April.181

  1. Alexander II
  2. Natalie Liebknecht