The Neue Rheinische Zeitung

A Democratic Uprising

by Frederick Engels

Translated: by the Marx-Engels Institute;
First published: in Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 25, June 25, 1848;
Transcribed: by, 1994.

Prague. Every day brings further confirmation of our view of the Prague uprising (No. 18 of this paper), and shows that the insinuations of the German papers which alleged that the Czech party served reaction, the aristocracy, the Russians, etc., were downright lies.

They only saw Count Leo Thun and his aristocrats, and failed to notice the mass of the people of Bohemia -- the numerous industrial workers and peasants. The fact that at one moment the aristocracy tried to use the Czech movement in its own interests and those of the camarilla at Innsbruck, was regarded by them as evidence that the revolutionary proletariat of Prague, who, already in 1844, held full control of Prague for three days, [16] represented the interests of the nobility and reaction in general.

All these calumnies, however, were exploded by the first decisive act of the Czech party. The uprising was so decidedly democratic that the counts Thun, instead of heading it, immediately withdrew from it, and were detained by the people as Austrian hostages. It was so definitely democratic that all Czechs belonging to the aristocratic party shunned it. It was aimed as much against the Czech feudal lords as against the Austrian troops.

The Austrians attacked the people not because they were Czechs, but because they were revolutionaries. The military regarded the storming of Prague simply as a prelude to the storming and burning down of Vienna.

Thus the Berliner Zeitungs-Halle [17] writes:

"Vienna, June 20. The deputation which the Viennese Citizens' Committee [18] had sent to Prague has returned today. Its sole errand was to arrange for some sort of supervision of telegraphic communications, so that we should not have to wait for information 24 hours, as was often the case during the last few days. The deputation reported back to the Committee. They related dreadful things about the military rule in Prague. Words failed them to describe the horrors of a conquered, shelled and besieged city. At the peril of their lives they drove into the city from the last station before Prague by cart, and at the peril of their lives they passed through the lines of soldiers to the castle of Prague.

"Everywhere the soldiers met them with exclamations of: 'So you're here, too, you Viennese dogs! Now we've got you!' Many wanted to set upon them, even the officers were shockingly rude. Finally the deputies reached the castle. Count Wallmoden took the credentials the Committee had given them, looked at the signature and said: 'Pillersdorf? He has nothing to say here.' Windischgratz treated the plebeian rabble more arrogantly than ever, saying: 'The revolution has been victorious everywhere; here we are the victors and we recognize no civilian authority. While I was in Vienna things were quiet there. But the moment I left everything was upset.' The members of the deputation were disarmed and confined in one of the rooms of the castle. They were not allowed to leave until two days later, and their arms were not returned to them.

"This is what our deputies reported, this is how they were treated by the Tile of Prague and the soldiers, yet people here still act as though they believe that this is merely a fight against the Czechs. Did our deputies perhaps speak Czech? Did they not wear the uniform of the Viennese National Guard? Did they not have a warrant from the ministry and the Citizens' Committee which the ministry had recognized as a legal authority?

"But the revolution has gone too far. Windischgratz thinks he is the man who can stem it. The Bohemians are shot down like dogs, and when the time for the venture comes the advance against Vienna will begin. Why did Windischgratz set Leo Thun free, the same Leo Thun who headed the Provisional Government in Prague and who advocated the separation of Bohemia? Why, we ask, was he freed from Czech hands if his entire activity were not a game prearranged with the aristocracy in order to bring about the explosion?

"A train left Prague the day before yesterday. On it traveled German students, Viennese National Guards, and families who were leaving Prague, for, despite the fact that tranquillity had been restored, they no longer felt at home there. At the first station the military guard posted there demanded that all the passengers without exception hand over their weapons, and when they refused the soldiers fired into the carriages at the defenseless men, women and children. Six bodies were removed from the carriages and the passengers wiped the blood of the murdered people from their faces. This was how Germans were treated by the very military whom people here would like to regard as the guardian angels of German liberty."