The Suppression of the Clubs in Stuttgart and Heidelberg

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Cologne, July 19.

My Germany got drunk with toasts,
You, You believed them all,
And every black-red-golden tassel
As well as each pipe-bowl!
[Heinrich Heine, An Georg Herwegh]

And that, upright German, has indeed been your fate once again. You believe you have made a revolution? Deception! You believe that you have overcome the police state? Deception! You believe that you possess freedom of association, freedom of the press, the arming of the people and other beautiful slogans which were bandied about on the March barricades? Deception, nothing but deception!

But when the blissful glow wore off,
Beloved friend, you stood bewildered.

Bewildered about your indirectly chosen, so-called National Assemblies,[1] bewildered about the renewed expulsions of German citizens from German cities, bewildered about the tyranny of the sabre in Mainz, Trier, Aachen, Mannheim, Ulm, and Prague, bewildered about the arrests and political trials in Berlin, Cologne, DĂźsseldorf, Breslau, etc.

But there was one thing left to you, upright German, the clubs! You were able to attend the clubs and to complain to the public about the political swindles of the last few months. You could pour out your heavy heart to like-minded fellow citizens and find consolation in the words of like-minded, equally oppressed patriots!

But now even this has come to an end. The clubs are incompatible with the preservation of “order”. In order that “confidence may be restored” it is urgently necessary to put an end to the subversive activities of the clubs.

Yesterday we related that the Württemberg Government downright prohibited the Democratic District Association in Stuttgart by a royal ordinance. One does not even bother any longer to haul the leaders of the clubs before a court but instead falls back upon the old police measures. Yes, the gentlemen Harpprecht, Duvernoy and Maucler who countersigned this ordinance go even further: they prescribe extra-legal penalties for the violators of this prohibition, penalties of up to one-year imprisonment. They devise penal laws, without the Chambers’ approval, and exceptional penal laws at that, merely “on the strength of Paragraph 89 of the Constitution”.

It is no better in Baden. Today we report the prohibition of the Democratic Student Union in Heidelberg. There, generally, the right of association is not so openly contested except in the case of the students, on the strength of the old, long abolished special laws of the Federal Diet,[2] the students are threatened by the penalties prescribed by these invalid laws.

We shall now probably have to expect the suppression of our clubs next.

We have a National Assembly in Frankfurt so that the governments may take such measures in complete safety without incurring the wrath of public opinion. This Assembly will, of course, pass over these police measures to the agenda just as lightly as over the revolution in Mainz.

Thus it is not in order to achieve anything in the Assembly but merely in order to force the majority of the Assembly to proclaim once again before all Germany its alliance with reaction that we call upon the deputies of the extreme Left in Frankfurt to propose:

That the originators of these measures, particularly Herr Harpprecht, Herr Duvernoy, Herr Maucler and Herr Mathy, be impeached for violating the fundamental rights of the German people.

  1. ↑ In most German states elections to the Frankfurt National Assembly were indirect. Under the law of April 8, 1848, the Prussian National Assembly too was elected by two-stage voting
  2. ↑ The seventeen “treated men” who represented the German governments were summoned after the March revolution in Germany by the Federal Diet, the central body of the German Confederation (which was founded in 1815 by the Congress of Vienna). The “trusted men”, among them Dahlmann, von Schmerling, Uhland and Bassermann, met in Frankfurt am Main from March 30 to May 8, 1848, and drafted an all-German Imperial Constitution based on constitutional-monarchical principles. The Federal Diet consisted of representatives of the German states. Though it had no real power, it was nevertheless a vehicle of feudal and monarchical reaction. After the March revolution of 1848, reactionary circles in the German states tried to revive the Federal Diet and use it to undermine the principle of popular sovereignty and prevent the democratic unification of Germany.