MARXIST INTERNET ARCHIVE |  Marx Engels

Engels in Neue Rheinische Zeitung April 1849

From the Theatre of War


Source: MECW Volume 9, p. 314;
Written: by Engels about April 21, 1849;
First published: in the supplement to the Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 279, April 22, 1849.


The Wiener Zeitung which failed to arrive the evening before yesterday, and following it, all the Vienna evening papers report:

“The Hungarian insurgents’ plan to relieve Komorn has been completely thwarted. The advantage they gained by their temporary occupation of Waitzen has also been wrested from them, for Lieutenant-Field Marshal Csorich’s division has driven them out of this position again. With the imposing reinforcements proceeding to the royal imperial army from all directions, a most successful resumption of the offensive by the royal imperial troops already in the very near future can be predicted.”

This royal imperial martial-law report, however, can already now almost certainly be affirmed to be a pure lie. If there were anything in it, a Bulletin would have been issued within the next 24 hours at the latest, and that has not happened. Moreover, all the other reports contradict this assertion, made without either a date or any detail.

We have no wish to repeat the many rumours circulating in Vienna and Breslau, to the effect that Komorn has been relieved, Görgey is marching on Vienna, Dembinski and Vetter have outflanked the imperial army and cut off its retreat to Vienna, that the Landsturm has been raised in all comitats on both sides of the Danube etc. So long as the postal connection between Pest and Vienna is not cut, little credence can be given to these rumours.

Up to the 18th, there was no mention of the post from Pest having failed to arrive in Vienna. The latest news from there was dated the afternoon of the 14th. This contains not a word about the recapture of Waitzen.

It will be remembered that some days ago the Ost-Deutsche Post already reported that Waitzen had been recaptured. It is quite possible that Waitzen had to be taken twice, and that the imperial forces re-occupied it temporarily; before finally being driven out. The fact that at a moment of great peril the official paper designed to dispense reassuring news writes with Jesuitical reservations about this temporary re-occupation, is quite consistent with the previous practice of the Bulletins.

On the 14th nothing at all was known in Pest of the alleged capture of Waitzen. On the contrary, the Lloyd in a report of this date wrote:

“For the present, the Hungarians are behaving pretty arrogantly in Waitzen. They send off letters and parcels which pass through and arrive here safely, except that they are first opened and searched and officially sealed by the Hungarian Defence, Council. [250] Under such a cover a dispatch arrived here yesterday containing the news that Major-General Götz was buried in the Hungarian camp with full military honours. Twelve battalions are said to have been paraded for the solemn occasion.”

All the other Pest news of the same date simply provides further evidence of the fear of the Austrians there. The Spiegel has this report:

“I am writing to you when I am just on the point of bringing my family to safety. Last night it was rumoured that all Germans were to be murdered (!). This and similar rumours are following each other at a frantic pace; the fanaticism of the Magyars threatens to erupt at any moment.”

Visits to the camp are prohibited, the bell-towers are occupied; the Magyars in Pest are said to have intended to ring the alarm at the first attack from outside. Outside Pest itself, little has happened since the 11th. At noon on the 14th a few skirmishes took place when the Hungarian outposts showed themselves in the vicinity. It is also claimed that the thunder of guns has been heard.

The royal imperial finances appear to be in a bad way too. Windischgrätz announced on the 10th that the imperial authorities are now issuing Hungarian paper money, drafts on the Hungarian revenues, at a fixed rate of exchange, in denominations of 5, 10, 100 and 1,000 florins. With these scraps of paper the royal imperial army will pay for the provisions supplied to them, and so, just before quitting, they will steal a few millions from Hungary. Such a dirty system of robbery as carried on by the honourable friends of the Kölnische Zeitung, a system composed of elements from all levels of civilisation, from the plundering by Croat-Tartar nomads down to the most modern paper-money swindling and fraudulent bill-jobbing, is wholly unprecedented.

And while even the Austrian banknotes are subject to exchange fluctuation, these notes must be accepted at their full face value in private dealing!

All these items of news confirm the expectation of an imminent Austrian retreat from Pest rather than the claim that Waitzen has been taken.

An occupation of Waitzen is moreover almost impossible on strategic grounds. By all reports, the imperial forces have been everywhere thrown back over the Danube and the Gran, Pest being the sole point they hold on the left bank. Pest could not be left without cover; hence the attack could only take place from the right bank, the imperial armies would have had to cross the Danube under fire of the superior Hungarian artillery and then to drive a superior army out of Waitzen. To do all this would be quite impossible; and even if it were possible, it could not be done without a great battle. But no one, not even the Wiener Zeitung, knows anything about such a battle. All this is supposed to have been done by Csorich’s division. One division!

Windischgrätz is happily in Olmiltz. Welden is not yet with the army, but he has sent out in advance pompous proclamation to his soldiers, these “heroes (!) on whom the gaze of half the world (!) is fixed”, a proclamation which could have been written by the Kölnische Zeitung in those glorious days of its Theiss manoeuvres. He describes his opponents as “infamous villains”, who have made Hungary into a “tool of venal Poles”, threatens them with destruction, and then adds: “But once more we offer our hand in reconciliation to our brother who has been led astray!” Herr Welden therefore wants to negotiate. The Magyars will be much obliged.

Little is heard of the reinforcements which the Austrians are supposed to have already received. Eight battalions (?) are said to be stationed at Neuhäusel on the Waag; that is how much the five brigades on the Gran must have shrunk already.

Six battalions are reported to be on the march from Vienna and the Fleischhackerstrasse is said to be choked with the wagons on which the reinforcements are arriving.

A reserve camp of 25,000 men is supposed to be formed on the Marchfeld near Vienna, another at Pettau (Styria) of 15,000 men, and a third of 20,000 to 30,000 men at Tábor and Budweis in Bohemia-everything to be quite ready by the 10th of May! Where are these troops to come from!! Haynau’s corps is not coming, Radetzky cannot spare it. Instead he has sent all his light cavalry. Finally, Vogl is said to be expected in Eperies.

We defer the news from the Banat and Transylvania until the, second edition, since it contains nothing of urgency.