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' • ) .; ,·,1.. ,. I·. t \,·,,I '.' THE GERMAN .REVOLUTION OF 1848 RuooLF CoPE.R T . HE German revolution of 1848 has been the subject of a vast literature, but it has rarely been studied objectively. Consequently, many people judge' it not according to its causes and effects but according·to their ow·n emotions: To some it appears as a proof that the Germans -are, for· some "racialu reason, either-incapable of appreciating liberty, or able to ~ccept: l!S loss or its \non-achievement with equanimity. Still- others regard the _ German revolution of 1848 as an isoJa.ted event of the past and ignore it in their ; of the political, social, and ,economic manifestations of ' Germany's development in· the last hundred years. However , there is one fact which stands out: the revolution ·of 1848 was a failure in that it ·did riot promote the political development·by · which it was brought about. · This fa~t can be explained without recourse.: to bio1ogy and anthropology. Another ·fact is-le~s obvious but ·more important : the causes an'd the failure of this revolution affect Europe·and the wo~ld even now as the centenary of 1848 has arrived. . . , The best way to analyse these two points is to describe the aspirations and the policies of the three ·mov~ments which converged to bring about _the German revolution of 184~-nationalismJ liberalism, arid socialism . . In doing so we will, in so far as we have to deal with i.t'lternal Germa~ affairs, confine ourselves -to Prussia, because of the overwhelming influence Prussia. has exercised upon Germany in the last century, We will also give especial, perhaps undue, consideration to the literary and philosophical expressi9ns of the economic, social, and political movements of nationalism and liberalism ; for these literary and philosophical ,works occupy a place of particular importance among Germany's cultural possessions. . They must serve 'predominantly---p~sitively or negatively, -but never by being burned-as media of German -re-education rio matter what .form this re-education is to take. An.d they can so serve only if they ·are und.,erstood 'in and through their hi~toric~d origins. ' I The ·Holy Roman Empire dissolved in 1806 under the impact of Napoleon. Its fall removed an obstructing rather than promo_ting. agent of German unity; it cleared the way for a progressive German nationalism, the desire to create a modern unified German state. But the Fall of the Holy Roman Empire was, so to speak, 'merely a negative stimulus. The necessary positive stimulus was _provided by t~e national degradation to which Napoleon had red.uced Germany: The Get"man people at large were well aware that many of their numerous sovereign princes were making ' the best of this degradation, that they were enjoyjng th_eii- ignoble rule137 'I . ··. \ I . [ . these words 'remained words only; having protested against the Decrees of Ka.rlsbad, the Powers did nothing tO have them revoked. They practised non-intervention-by no means the only case in moder.n history in which non-intervention against'an abuse of power has had deplorable consequences. · The German- people, readi~g . in their press Metternich's opening speech but not the British and' Russian protests, naturally had to believe that liberty in their countries wa~ opposed by all Europe.· . The courageous among them did not give in, however. In the decade ' from 1820 to 1830 countless years of imprisonment were pronounced against' nationalists, mostly university professors and students, and a sprinkling of communistic intellectuals. The Decree~ of Karlsbad had put each German university under the surveillance of a plenipotentiary extraordinary of ~he Bunde.siag, a policy that clearly showed the sinister mark of Adam Nluller:' The universities. were the chief propagators of pure nationalism. On the other hand, it was typical of the economic and social progress in that decade that the forces of 1iber'alism represented by leaders of commerce, 1ndustry, .and finance (the forces whose rise to supremacy-in the state Mtiller'knew . to be inevitable and which were much more dangerous to the existing order· than the nebulous nationalism of the intelle'ctuals) could no longer be suppressed by police measures...