Marx-Engels Correspondence 1870

Karl Marx to Friedrich Engels in Manchester, 28 July 1870

Source: Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Correspondence (Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1975). Scanned and prepared for the Marxist Internet Archive by Paul Flewers.

... Last Tuesday the General Council ordered a thousand copies of the Address [1] to be printed. Today I expect the proof-sheets.

The singing of the Marseillaise in France is a parody just like all the Second Empire. But that scoundrel [2] at least feels that ‘Going off to Syria’ [3] would not do. In Prussia, on the other hand, such buffoonery is not necessary. ‘Lord, in Thee is all my trust!’, sung by William I, with Bismarck on the right and Stieber [4] on the left, is the German Marseillaise. Like in 1812 seqq, the German philistine seems to be really delighted because he can now give free vent to his innate servility. Who would have thought it possible that twenty-two years after 1848 a national war in Germany would be given such theoretical expression!

It is fortunate that this whole demonstration originated with the middle class. The working class, with the exception of the direct adherents of Schweitzer, [5] takes no part in it. The war of classes in both countries, France and Germany, has fortunately reached such an extent that no war abroad can seriously turn back the wheels of history...


1. The reference is to the First Address of the General Council of the International Working Men’s Association on the Franco-Prussian War (see Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Volume 2 (Moscow, 1973), pp 190-94) – Progress Publishers.

2. Napoleon III – Progress Publishers.

3. ‘Going off to Syria’ ('Partant pour la Syrie’) – a French song written at the beginning of the nineteenth century, which became a sort of Bonapartist anthem during the Second Empire – Progress Publishers.

4. Wilhelm Stieber (1818-1882) – Prussian police officer, Chief of Prussian Police (1850-60), an organiser of Cologne Communist Trial and principle witness at this trial (1852), head of Prussian intelligence service (1870-71) – Progress Publishers.

5. Johann Baptist Schweitzer (1833-1875) – one of Lassallean leaders in Germany, editor of Sozial-Demokrat (1864-67), President of General Association of German Workers (1867-71), gave support to Bismarck’s policy of unification of Germany ‘from above’ under hegemony of Prussia, prevented German workers’ affiliation to First International, fought against Social-Democratic Workers Party, expelled from Association in 1872 after his connections with Prussian authorities were exposed – Progress Publishers.