Marx-Engels Correspondence 1871

Marx to Dr Kugelmann
Concerning the Paris Commune


Written: April 12-17, 1871;
Transcribed: Zodiac;
HTML Markup: S. Ryan.

[London] April 12, 1871

Dear Kugelmann

Your ‘medical advice’ was effective in so far as I have consulted my Dr Maddison and have for the present put myself under his care. He says however that my lungs are in excellent condition and the cough is due to bronchitis, etc. It probably also affects the liver.

Yesterday we received the by no means soothing news that Lafargue (not Laura) was at present in Paris. [1]

If you look at the last chapter of my Eighteenth Brumaire you will find that I say that the next attempt of the French revolution will be no longer, as before, to transfer the bureaucratic-military machine from one hand to another, but to smash it, and this is essential for every real people's revolution on the Continent. And this is what our heroic Party comrades in Paris are attempting. What elasticity, what historical initiative, what a capacity for sacrifice in these Parisians! After six months of hunger and ruin, caused rather by internal treachery than by the external enemy, they rise, beneath Prussian bayonets, as if there had never been a war between France and Germany and the enemy were not at the gates of Paris. History has no like example of a like greatness. If they are defeated only their “good nature” will be to blame. They should have marched at once on Versailles, after first Vinoy and then the reactionary section of the Paris National Guard had themselves retreated. The right moment was missed because of conscientious scruples. They did not want to start the civil war, as if that mischievous abortion Thiers had not already started the civil war with his attempt to disarm Paris. Second mistake: The Central Committee surrendered its power too soon, to make way for the Commune. Again from a too “honorable” scrupulosity! However that may be, the present rising in Paris – even if it be crushed by the wolves, swine and vile curs of the old society – is the most glorious deed of our Party since the June insurrection in Paris. Compare these Parisians, storming heaven, with the slave to heaven of the German-Prussian Holy Roman Empire, with its posthumous masquerades reeking of the barracks, the Church, cabbage-junkerdom and above all, of the philistine.

A propos. In the official publication of the list of those receiving direct subsidies from Louis Bonaparte's treasury there is a note that Vogt received 40,000 francs in August 1859. I have informed Liebknecht of the fait, for further use.

You can send me Haxthausen’s [2] book for lately I have been receiving undamaged various pamphlets, etc, not only from Germany but even from Petersburg.

Thanks for the various newspapers you sent me. (Please let me have more of them, for I want to write something about Germany, the Reichstag, etc.)

Best regards to the Countess and Käuzchen. [3]




1. Paul Lafargue had come to Paris from Bordeaux, where he was then living, to obtain from the Commune full powers to organise an armed uprising in Bordeaux – Progress Publishers.

2. August Haxthausen (1792-1866) – Prussian official and writer, author of a book on survival of communal system in land relations in Russia, reactionary feudalist – Progress Publishers.

3. Gertrud and Franziska Kugelmann – Progress Publishers.