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David Hansemann to Prussian Interior Minister Ernst von Bodelschwingh (March 1, 1848)

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This [is] how circumstances have developed, regardless of the consistent policy of bondage. If experience has furnished any lessons, then it has clearly stated that this policy of the people and their princes alike is a pernicious one, and that continuing along this path would be the most dangerous experiment that can ever be carried out. Indeed, doubly dangerous now, where in a country as powerful as France, in such a bellicose nation, the republican party has, for the moment, gained the upper hand. Who now cannot envisage the danger that the wars of previous eras might be revived and turn out badly for Prussia, for Germany; who does not grasp how weak Austria is in its current condition, so weak that it is completely preoccupied with subduing hostile elements in Italy, even if they receive no support from abroad! There is now great and general anxiety; this is the case chiefly because Germany is in such a dubious position, as a result of the reactionary policy led by Metternich, and as a result of dependence on Russia; and also because it is feared that Germany's princes, instead of using liberty to excite the energies of their peoples, would still rather not abandon that policy and would prefer to rely on Russia's protection. The danger of Prussia's and Germany's situation is heightened even further because, as a result of the principle of bondage and regimentation, the people's practical political reason has not developed sufficiently, so that, for some time, unfeasible and dangerous doctrines are capable of deceiving many, and it is difficult to show what is practicable in its best light. The helplessness of the people is all the more evident because it [the people] does not regard its leaders, the governments, as capable of facing a crisis that they have, to a certain extent, conjured up through their erroneous perception of conditions.

[ . . . ]

Source: GStA PK, VI. HA Familienarchive und Nachlässe, Nachlass Hansemann, Nr. 14: Gemeinnützige Unternehmungen, 1847 bis 1848, Bl. 104r-106v (Hansemann an Minister v. Bodelschwingh in Berlin, Aachen, den 01. März 1848 [Abschrift]), (David Hansemann to Prussian Interior Minister Ernst von Bodelschwingh, March 1, 1848 [Transcription]).

Original German text reprinted in Rheinische Briefe und Akten zur Geschichte der politischen Bewegung 1830-1850 [Rhenish Letters and Files on the History of the Political Movement, 1830-1850], compiled and edited by Joseph Hansen, vol. II.1, January 1846-April 1848. Publikationen der Gesellschaft für rheinische Geschichtskunde XXXVI [Publications of the Society for Rhenish History XXXVI], vol. 2.1, 1942, pp. 477-80.

Translation: Jeremiah Riemer

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