Works of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels 1852

Heroes of the Exile


The Great Industrial Exhibition inaugurated a new epoch in the Emigration. The great throng of German Philistines that flooded into London during the summer, felt ill at ease in the bustle of the great Crystal Palace and in the even larger town of London with its noise, its din and its clamour. And when the toil and the labour of the day, the dutiful inspection of the Exhibition and the other sights had been completed in the sweat of his brow, the German Philistine could recover at his ease with Schärttner at the Hanau or Göhringer at the Star, with their beery cosiness, their smoke-filled fug and their public-house politics. Here “the whole of the fatherland could be seen” and in addition all the greatest men of Germany could be seen gratis. There they all sat, the members of parliament, the deputies of Chambers, the generals, the Club orators of the halcyon days of 1848 and 1849, they smoked their pipes just like ordinary people and debated the loftiest interests of the fatherland day after day, in public and with unshakeable dignity. This was the place where for the price of a few bottles of extremely cheap wine the German citizen could discover exactly what went on at the most secret meetings of the European cabinets. This was the place where he could learn to within a minute when “it would all start”. In the meantime one bottle after another was started and all the Parties went home unsteadily but strengthened in the knowledge that they had made their contribution to the salvation of the fatherland. Never has the Emigration drunk more and cheaper than during the period when the solvent masses of German Philistines were in London.

The true organisation of the Emigration was in fact this tavern organisation presided over by Silenus-Schärttner in Long Acre which experienced its heyday thanks to the Exhibition. Here the true Central Committee sat in perpetual session. All other committees, organisations, party-formations were just trimmings, the patriotic arabesques of this primeval German tavern society of idlers.

In addition the Emigration was strengthened numerically at the time by the arrival of Messrs. Meyen, Faucher, Sigel, Goegg and Fickler, etc.

Meyen was a little porcupine who had come into the world without any quills and who under the name Poinsinet, was once described by Goethe in this way:

“In literature, as in society, one often encounters such curious little mannikins. Endowed with some small talent they endeavour always to claim the attention of the public and as they can easily be seen through by all they are the source of much amusement. However, they always manage to profit sufficiently. They live, produce, are mentioned everywhere and are even accorded a favourable reception. Their failures do not disconcert them; they regard them as exceptional and look to the future for greater success. Poinsinet is a figure of this sort in the French literary world. It goes almost beyond belief to see what has been done with him, how he has been fooled and mystified and even his sad death by drowning in Spain does not diminish the ridiculous impression made by his life, just as a frog made of fireworks does not attain to dignity by concluding a lengthy series of sputters with a loud bang.” [58]

Writers contemporary with him pass on the following information: Eduard Meyen belonged to the “Resolute” group which represented the Berliner intelligentsia as against the mass stupidity of the rest of Germany. He too had a Maybug Club in Berlin with his friends Mügge, Klein, Zabel, Buhl etc. Each of these maybugs sat on his own little leaf [Blättchen — "leaf" and "newspaper"]. Eduard Meyen’s paper was called the Mannheimer Abendblättchen and here, every week, after enormous efforts, he deposited a small green turd of correspondence. Our Maybug really did progress to the point where he was about to publish a monthly periodical; contributions from various people landed on his desk, the publisher waited but the whole project collapsed because Eduard after eight months in cold sweat declared that he could not finish the prospectus. As Eduard took all his childish activities seriously he was widely regarded in Berlin after the March Revolution as a man who meant business. In London he worked together with Faucher on a German edition of the Illustrated London News under the editorship and censorship of an old woman who had known some German twenty years before, but he was discarded as useless after he had attempted with great tenacity to insert a profound article about sculpture that he had had published ten years previously in Berlin. But when, later on, the Kinkel-emigration made him their secretary he realised that he was really a practical homme d'état and he announced in a lithographed leaflet that he had arrived at the “tranquillity of a point of view”. After his death a whole heap of titles for future projects will be found among his papers.

Conjointly with Meyen we must necessarily consider Oppenheim, his co-editor and co-secretary. It has been claimed that Oppenheim is not so much a man as an allegorical figure: the goddess of boredom it is reported, came down to Frankfurt on Main and assumed the shape of this son of a Jewish jeweller. When Voltaire wrote: “Tous les genres vent loons, excepté legenre ennuyeux”, he must have had a premonition of our Heinrich Bernhard Oppenheim. We prefer Oppenheim the writer to Oppenheim the orator. His writings may be avoided, but his spoken delivery — c’est impossible. The pythagorean metempsychosis may have some foundation in reality but the name borne by Heinrich Bernhard Oppenheim in former ages can no longer be discovered as no man ever made a name for himself through being an unbearable chatterbox. His life may be epitomised by its three climactic moments: Arnold Ruge’s editor — Brentano’s editor — Kinkel’s editor.

The third member of the trio is Mr. Julius Faucher. He is one of those Berlin Huguenots who know how to exploit their minor talent with great commercial adroitness. He made his public debut as the Lieutenant Pistol of the Free Trade Party in which capacity he was employed by Hamburg commercial interests to make propaganda. During the revolutionary disturbances they allowed him to preach free trade in the apparently chaotic form of anarchism. When this ceased to be relevant to the times he was dismissed and, together with Meyen, he became joint editor of the Berlin Abendpost. Under the presence of wishing to abolish the state and introduce anarchy he refrained from dangerous opposition towards the existing government and when, later on, the paper failed because it could no longer afford the deposit, the Neue Preussische Zeitung commiserated with Faucher, the only able writer among the democrats. This cosy relationship with the Neue Preussische Zeitung soon became so intimate that Faucher began to act as its correspondent in London. Faucher’s activity in the London Emigration did not last long; his free trade inclined him towards commerce where he found his true calling, to which he returned with great energy and in which he achieved wonders never seen before: namely a price-list that assesses goods according to a completely sliding scale. As is well known, the Breslauer Zeitung was indiscreet enough to inform the general public of this document.

This three-star constellation of the Berlin intelligentsia can be contrasted with the three-star constellation of wholesome South German principles: Sigel, Fickler, Goegg. Franz Sigel, whom his friend Goegg describes as a short, beardless man, bearing a strong resemblance to Napoleon, is, again according to Goegg, “a hero”, “a man of the future”, “above all a genius, intellectually creative and constantly hatching new plans”.

Between ourselves, General Siegel is a young Baden lieutenant of principle and ambition. He read in an account of the campaigns of the French Revolution that the step from sub-lieutenant to supreme general is mere child's play and from that moment on this little beardless man firmly believed that Franz Sigel must become supreme commander in a revolutionary army. His wish was granted thanks to the Baden insurrection of 1849 and a popularity with the army arising from a confusion of names. The battles he fought on the Neckar and did not fight in the Black Forest are well known; his retreat to Switzerland has been praised even by the enemy as a timely and correct manoeuvre. His military plans here bear witness to his study of the [French] Revolutionary Wars. In order to remain faithful to the revolutionary tradition Hero Sigel, ignoring the enemy and operational and withdrawal lines and similar bagatelles, went conscientiously from one Moreau position to the next. And if he did not manage to parody Moreau's campaigns [59] in every detail, if he crossed the Rhine at Eglichau and not at Paradies, this was the fault of the enemy who was too ignorant to appreciate such a learned manoeuvre. In his orders of the day and in his instructions Sigel emerges as a preacher and if he has an inferior style to Napoleon, he has more principle. Later, he concerned himself with devising a handbook for revolutionary officers in all branches of warfare from which we are in a position to offer the following important extract:

“an officer of the revolution must carry the following articles according to regulations: 1 head-covering and cap, 1 sabre with belt, 1 black, red and yellow [60] camel-hair sash, 2 pairs of black leather gloves, 2 battle coats, 1 cloak, 1 pair cloth trousers, 1 tie, 2 pairs of boots or shoes, 1 black leather travelling case — 12" wide, 10" high, 4" deep, 6 shirts, 3 pairs of underpants, 8 pairs of socks, 6 handkerchiefs, 2 towels, 1 washing and shaving kit, 1 writing implement, 1 writing tablet with letters patent, 1 clothes brush, 1 copy of service regulations.”

Joseph Fickler —

“the model of a decent, resolute, imperturbably tenacious man of the people whom the people of the whole Baden upland and the Lake District supported as one man and whose struggles and sufferings over many years had earned him a popularity approaching that of Brentano” (according to the testimony of his friend Goegg).

As befits a decent, resolute, imperturbably tenacious man of the people, Joseph Fickler has a fleshy full-moon face, a fat craw and a paunch to match. The only fact known about his early life is that he earned a livelihood with the aid of a carving from the 15th century and with relics relating to the Council of Constance. He allowed travellers and foreign art-lovers to inspect these curiosities in exchange for money and incidentally sold them “antique” souvenirs of which Fickler, as he loved to relate, would constantly make up a new supply in all their authentic “antiquity”.

His only deeds during the Revolution were firstly his arrest by Mathy [61] after the Vorparlament, and, second, his arrest by Romer in Stuttgart in June 1849. Thanks to these arrests he was happily deprived of the opportunity to compromise himself. The Württemberg democrats deposited 1000 guilders as bail for him, whereupon Fickler went to Thurgau incognito and to the great distress of his guarantors no more was heard of him. It is undeniable that he successfully translated the feelings and opinions of the lakeside peasants into printers' ink in his Lake Journals; for the rest he shares the opinion of his friend Ruge that much study makes you stupid and for this reason he warned his friend Goegg not to visit the library of the British Museum.

Amandus Goegg, lovable, as his name indicates, is no great orator, but “an unassuming citizen whose noble and modest bearing earns him the friendship of people everywhere” (Westamerikanische Blätter). From sheer nobility Goegg became a member of the provisional government in Baden, where, as he admits, he could do nothing against Brentano and in all modesty he assumed the title of Dictator. No one denies that his achievements as Finance Minister were modest. In all modesty he proclaimed the “Social-democratic Republic” in Donaueschingen the day before the final retreat to Switzerland actually took place, although it had been decreed before. In all modesty he later declared (See Janus by Heinzen, 1852) that the Paris proletariat had lost on December 2 because it did not possess his own Franco-Badenese democratic experience nor the insights available elsewhere in the frenchified Germany of the South. Anyone who desires further proofs of Goegg’s modesty and of the existence of a “Goegg Party” will find them in the book The Baden Revolution in Retrospect. Paris 1850, written by himself. A fitting climax to his modesty came in a public meeting in Cincinnati when he declared that “reputable men came to him after the bankruptcy of the Baden Revolution and had announced that in that revolution men of all the German tribes had taken an active part. It was therefore to be regarded as a German matter just as the Rome uprising was of concern to the whole of Italy. As he was the man who had held out they said that he must become the German Mazzini. His modesty compelled him to refuse.”

Why? A man who was once “dictator” and who to cap it all, is the bosom friend of “Napoleon” Sigel, could surely also become the “German Mazzini”.

Once the Emigration was augmented by these and similar, less noteworthy arrivals, it could proceed to those mighty battles that the reader shall learn of in the next canto.