The Frankfurter Oberpostamts-Zeitung and the Viennese Revolution

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Author(s) Karl Marx
Written 18 October 1848

Source: Marx-Engels Collected Works, Volume 7, p. 472;
First published: in Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 120, October 19, 1848.
Collection(s): Neue Rheinische Zeitung

Cologne, October 18.

“A peculiar destiny seems to hold sway over Germany. When one believes that one has reached the point where it is possible to help with the reconstruction of the common fatherland, when one raises one’s eyes gratefully towards heaven for this blessing, then the thunderclouds which are still hanging over Europe, discharge new and mighty claps and make the hands tremble which have dedicated themselves to the drawing up of a Constitution for Germany. We have just experienced such a thunderclap again in Vienna.”

Thus complains the Frankfurter Oberpostamts-Zeitung, the Moniteur of the Imperial Administration. This worthy paper, whose recent editor appeared on the list of Guizot’s paid creatures, took itself au sérieux for a moment. The Central Authority with its parliamentary framework, the Council of Frankfurt, appeared to it as a serious power. Instead of issuing their counter-revolutionary orders directly to their subjects, the 38 German governments let the Central Authority in Frankfurt issue to them the order to carry out their own decisions. Everything was running smoothly just as at the time of the Direct Commission of Mainz.[1] The Central Authority was able to imagine that it was a power and its Moniteur was able to imagine that it was a Moniteur. It sang “Now thank ye all our God, your hands raised up to heaven”.

And now we “experience” a thunderclap from Vienna. The “hands” of our Lycurguses “tremble” in spite of the army in spiked helmets which are so many lightning-conductors of the revolution; in spite of the decrees which declare criticism of black-red-golden persons and gesta [deeds] to be a criminal offence[2]; and in spite of the strong language of those gigantic figures, Schmerling, Mohl and Gagern. The revolutionary monster roars anew — and in Frankfurt they “tremble”. The Frankfurter Oberpostamts-Zeitung is frightened out of its thanksgiving prayer. It tragically grumbles at its iron fate.

In Paris the party of Thiers is in control, in Berlin the Pfuel Government with Wrangels in all the provinces; in Frankfurt a central gendarmerie; in all Germany a more or less hidden state of siege; Italy pacified by the gentle Ferdinand and Radetzky; after the ‘annihilation of the Magyars Jellachich, the commander of Hungary, proclaiming together with Windischgrätz “Croatian freedom and order” in Vienna; in Bucharest the revolution drowned in blood; the Danube principalities blessed by the good deeds of the Russian regime; in England all the Chartist leaders arrested and deported; Ireland too starved to be able to move — tell me, what more do you want? [from Heine’s poem Du hast Diamanten und Perlen]

The Viennese revolution has not yet won. Its first summer lightning suffices, however, to illuminate all the positions of the counter-revolution in Europe and thus to render inevitable a universal fight to the death.

The counter-revolution is not yet destroyed but it has made a fool of itself. With the hero Jellachich all its heroes are transformed into comical figures, and with Fuad Effendi’s proclamation after the blood bath of Bucharest,[3] all proclamations of the friends of “constitutional freedom and order”, from the proclamations of the Imperial Diet down to the most insignificant statement of the wailers, are parodied to death.

Tomorrow we shall discuss at length the immediate situation in Vienna and the Austrian situation in general.

  1. The Direct Commission of Mainz was founded in 1819 by decision of the Carlsbad conference of German states (see Notes 152 and 199) to investigate “tricks of the demagogues”, i.e. for the struggle against the opposition movement in the German states. The Commission, whose members were appointed by the individual governments of the German states, was authorised to hold direct inquiries and make arrests in all the states of the German Confederation
  2. The reference is to the “law on the protection of the Constituent National Assembly and the officials of the Central Authority” according to which offences against National Assembly deputies and the officials of the Central Authority were punishable by imprisonment. This law was a repressive measure adopted by the Frankfurt National Assembly majority and the Imperial Government on October 9, 1848, i.e. after the September uprising in Frankfurt. Black-red-golden — a symbolic combination of colours signifying the unity of Germany
  3. In September 1848 Turkish troops supported by the Tsarist Government occupied Wallachia to suppress the national liberation movement. In Bucharest, they were guilty of bloody outrages against the civil population. The proclamation published by the Turkish government commissioner Fuad Effendi declared the necessity of establishing “constitutional order” and “eliminating all vestiges of the revolution