Engels in Neue Rheinische Zeitung May 1849

The Situation in Elberfeld [342]


Source: MECW Volume 9, p. 423;
Written: by Engels on May 9, 1849;
First published: in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 294, May 10, 1849.


Elberfeld, May 8. After several posters appealing to the people to support the army reserve in their refusal of military duty, as well as a proclamation by the army reserve against the King and Government, had been torn down by the police, the latter were attacked and forced to fasten the posters to the offices and doors while the people watched them. Towards the evening, as the crowds grew larger and larger, the rumour spread that troops were on their way. And so the army reserve took up arms and forced the burgomaster to accompany them to the railway station to try and persuade the regular troops to turn back. However, when they were passing the officers’ mess von Carnap took refuge in it and the people then demolished the building. Whilst the army reserve marched to the station to prevent the troops from entering the town, the armed forces appeared on the scene causing confusion among the crowd and lashing out at them to such an extent that a number of casualties had to be carried away.

“But the crowd gathered again and went to the town hall where the civic militia had in the meantime been mounted to defend the building. It contains a great deal of ammunition, and the demand was raised that this should be handed over. After this demand had been refused, an attempt was made to force an entry, but this was unsuccessful. A hail of stones had in the meantime smashed several window-panes. At 8 o'clock this morning, the army reserve, fully armed, have taken up positions near B÷ttcher on Engelnberg where they await the arrival of the military.

“Many proletarians armed with weapons have joined them, as well as army reserve units from other parts. The civic militia are equally active, but will not attack the army reserve and only control the crowd. If the military arrive and attack the army reserve, then alas! They will have to come in large numbers if they are to achieve anything.” D.Z.

(This morning artillery left Cologne at an early hour bound for Elberfeld, in order to riddle with grape-shot the honest workers of the Berg Country who are not willing to be used unlawfully as tools by a traitorous camarilla. We trust that the artillery will do its duty.)