Works of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels 1852

Heroes of the Exile


To show how pleasantly the war was waged between Emigration and Agitation we append here a few excerpts from the German-American papers.


Ruge declared that Kinkel was an “agent of the Prince of Prussia”. Another agitator discovered that the outstanding men of the Émigré Club consisted of “Pastor Kinkel together with three Prussian lieutenants, two mediocre Berlin literati and one student”.

Sigel wrote: “It cannot be denied that Willich has gained some support. But when a man has been a preacher for three years and only tells people what they wish to hear, he would have to be very stupid not to be able to win some of them over. The Kinkelites are attempting to take these supporters over. The Willich supporters are whoring with the Kinkel supporters.”

A fourth agitator declared that Kinkel's supporters are “idolators”. Tausenau gave this description of the Émigré Club.

“Divergent interests beneath the mask of conciliatoriness, the systematic gerrymandering of majorities, the emergence of unknown quantities as organising party leaders, attempts to impose a secret finance committee and all the other slippery manoeuvres with which immature politicians of all ages have tried to control the fates of their country in exile, while the first glow of the revolution disperses all such vanities like a morning mist.”

Lastly, Rodomonte-Heinzen announced that the only reputable refugees in England personally known to him were Ruge, Goegg, Fickler and Sigel. The members of the Émigré Club were “egoists, royalists and communists”. Kinkel was “an incurably vain fool and an aristocratic adventurer”, Meyen, Oppenheim and Willich, etc. were people “who do not even come up to his, Heinzen's, knee and as for Ruge, they do not even reach to his ankle”. (New York Schnellpost, New-Yorker Deutsche Zeitung, Wecker, etc. 1851.)


“What is the purpose of an imposed committee, that stands firmly in mid-air, that confers authority on itself without consulting the people whom it claims to represent or asking them whether they wish to be represented by such people?” — “Everyone who knows Ruge, knows that the mania for proclamations is his incurable disease.” — “In parliament Ruge did not even acquire the influence of a Simon of Trier or a Raveaux.” [70] “Where revolutionary energy in action, talent for organisation, discretion or reticence are necessary, Ruge is downright dangerous because he cannot hold his tongue, he cannot hold his ink and always claims that he represents everybody. When Ruge meets Mazzini and Ledru-Rollin this is translated into Rugean and published in all the papers as: Germany, France and Italy have banded together fraternally to serve the revolution.” — “This pretentious imposition of a committee, this boastful inactivity determined Ruge’s most intimate and intelligent friends, such as Oppenheim, Meyen and Schramm to join forces with other men.” “Behind Ruge there is no clearly defined section of the people, but only a clearly outlined pigtail of peace.” — “How many hundreds of people ask themselves daily who is this Tausenau and there is no one, no one who can give an answer. Here and there you can find a Viennese who will assure you that he is one of those democrats with whom the reaction used to reproach the Viennese democrats so as to put them in a bad light. But that is the concern of the Viennese. At any rate Tausenau is an unknown quantity, and whether he is a quantity of any kind is even more dubious.”

“Let us take a look at these worthy men who regard everyone else as an immature politician. Sigel, the supreme commander. If anyone ever asks the muse of history how such an insipid nonentity was given the supreme command she will be completely at a loss for a reply. Sigel is only his brother's brother. His brother became a popular officer as a result of his critical remarks about the government, remarks which had been provoked by his frequent arrests for disorderly behaviour. The younger Sigel thought this reason enough in the early confusion prevailing at the outbreak of revolution to proclaim himself supreme commander and minister of war. The Baden artillery which had often proved its worth had plenty of older and more experienced officers who should have taken precedence over this young milksop Lieutenant Sigel, and they were more than a little indignant when they had to obey an unknown man whose inexperience was only matched by his incompetence. But there was Brentano, who was so mindless and treacherous as to permit anything that might ruin the revolution .... The total incapacity that Sigel displayed during the whole Baden campaign .... It is worthy of note that Sigel left the bravest soldiers of the republican army in the lurch in Rastatt and in the Black Forest without the reinforcements he had promised while he himself drove around Zurich with the epaulettes and the carriage of Prince von Furstenberg and paraded as an interesting unfortunate supreme commander. This is the true magnitude of this mature politician who, understandably proud of his earlier heroic deeds, imposed himself as supreme commander for a second time, on this occasion in the Agitators’ Club. This is the great hero, the brother of his brother.”

“It is really laughable when such people” (as the Agitators) “reproach others with half-heartedness, for they are political nonentities who are neither half nor whole.” — “Personal ambition is the whole secret of their fundamental position.” — “As a club the Agitators’ Club has meaning only as a private institution, like a literary circle or a billiard club, and therefore it has no claim to be taken into consideration or given a voice.” — “You have cast the dice! Let the uninitiated be initiated so that they may judge for themselves what kind of people you are!” — (Baltimore Correspondent.)

It must be confessed that in their understanding of each other these gentlemen have almost achieved an understanding of themselves.


In the meantime the secret finance committee of the “Émigrés” had elected an executive committee consisting of Kinkel, Willich and Reichenbach and it now resolved to take serious measures in connection with the German loan. As reported in the New York Schnellpost, the New-Yorker Deutsche Zeitung and the Baltimore Correspondent at the end of 1851, Student Schurz was sent on a mission to France, Belgium and Switzerland where he sought out all old, forgotten, dead and missing parliamentarians, Reichregents, deputies and other distinguished men, right down to the late lamented Raveaux, to get them to guarantee the loan. The forgotten wretches hastened to give their guarantee. For what else was the guarantee of the loan if not a mutual guarantee of government posts in partibus; and in the same way Messrs. Kinkel, Willich and Reichenbach obtained by this means guarantees of their future prospects. And these sorrowing bonhommes in Switzerland were so obsessed with “organisation” and the guarantee of future posts that they had long before worked out a plan by which government posts would be awarded according to seniority — which produced a terrible scandal about who were to have Nos. 1, 2 and 3. Suffice it to say that Student Schurz brought back the guarantee in his pocket and so they all went to work. Some days earlier Kinkel had, it is true, promised in another meeting with the “Agitators” that he would not go ahead with a loan without them. For that very reason he departed taking the signatures of the guarantors and carte blanche from Reichenbach and Willich — ostensibly to find customers for his aesthetic lectures in the north of England, but in reality to go to Liverpool and embark for New York where he hoped to play Parzival and to discover the Holy Grail, the gold of the democratic parties.

And now begins that sweet-sounding, strange, magniloquent, fabulous, true and adventurous history of the great battles fought on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean between the Émigrés and the Agitators. It was a war waged with renewed bitterness and with indefatigable zeal. In it we witness Gottfried's crusade in the course of which he contends with Kossuth and after great labours and indescribable temptations he finally returns home with the Grail in the bag.

Or bei signori, io vi lascio al presente,
E se voi tornerete in questo loco,
Diro questa baffaglia dov'io lasso
Ch'un altra nofu mai di tal fracasso.

(Boiardo, Bk I, Canto 26)

[And there, kind Sirs, I leave you for the present,
If one day you return unto this place
I'll give you further news of this great war
So full of mighty deeds ne'er done before.]