Marx and Engels in Neue Rheinische Zeitung June 1848

Valdenaire’s Arrest — Sebaldt

Source: MECW Volume 7, p. 94;
Written: on June 18, 1848;
First published: in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung No. 19, June 19, 1848.

Cologne. As is well known, the Berlin Agreement Assembly has deferred the debate on Wencelius’ motion concerning the imprisonment of Victor Valdenaire, the deputy of the district of Trier. And on what grounds! Because no law about the immunity of people’s representatives can he found in the archives of the old Prussian legislation, just as there are, of course, no people’s representatives in the old lumber-room of Prussian history. Nothing is easier than on this basis subsequently to destroy all the achievements of the revolution in the interest of the state treasury. The self-evident demands, requirements and rights of the revolution are not, of course, sanctioned by a legislation whose basis has been exploded by just this revolution. From the moment there were Prussian people’s representatives, the immunity of the Prussian people’s representatives existed. Or should the continued existence of the entire Agreement Assembly be dependent on the mood of a chief of police or a law-court? By all means! Zweiffel, Reichensperger and the rest of the Rhenish jurists who transform every political question into procedural wrangling and who could not allow the case of Valdenaire to pass without displaying minute casuistry and gigantic servility, will be entirely safe from such a possibility.

On this occasion we would like to pose a question to Herr Reichensperger II: Has Herr Reichensperger not perhaps been appointed to become President of the court in Cologne after Herr Schauberg’s retirement, which is supposed to take place on July 1, 1848?

Valdenaire was arrested just as he was climbing into the stage-coach to Merzig where the election of a deputy for Frankfurt was to take place. Valdenaire had secured the great majority of the votes. There is no easier method to fail an election to which one objects than to arrest the candidate! And the Government, in order to be consistent, does not summon his substitute Gräff in spite of his protests. Thus a population of 60,000 fallen out of favour is left unrepresented. We advise Herr Gräff to go to Berlin on his own authority.

Finally, we cannot describe the situation in Trier better than by reproducing the following warning issued by the high and mighty Herr Sebaldt, the royal Landrat and Chief Burgomaster of Trier:


For several evenings in a row, unusually numerous crowds of people have shown up on the public squares and streets of the city, which have aroused the fear in nervous people that illegal demonstrations are imminent. I am not one of these nervous people, and I like it well if the street traffic moves freely. If, however, contrary to expectations, some immature persons should get the idea of misusing this traffic for knavish tricks and insulting raillery, I must urge the better part of the public to dissociate itself immediately from these elements, for serious disturbances of public order will be met by serious counter-measures and I should be very sorry if during a possible conflict the careless should come to harm rather than the guilty.

Trier, June 16, 1848

The royal Landrat and Chief Burgomaster Regierungs-Rat Sebaldt

How kindly and patriarchally this eminent man writes!

He likes it well if the street traffic moves freely.” What a pleasant liking Herr Sebaldt has!

Nervous people fear a demonstration. The dictator of Trier has the quality of not being nervous. Yet he must show his absolute authority, he must transform the chimeras of the nervous people into official conjecture so that he can oppose serious disturbances with appropriately serious counter-measures.

How surprisingly well the great man is able to combine seriousness and kindliness! The better citizens of Trier may slumber in peace under the protection of this serious, yet kindly providence.