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The Liberals: Heppenheim Program of the Southwest German Liberals (1847)

The report in the Deutsche Zeitung (German Newspaper) from October 15, 1847, summarizes the discussions of the south German and Prussian Rhineland liberals who met in Heidelberg on October 10, 1847. In response to the radical democrats' Offenbach Program from September 12, 1847, the liberals called for a reorganization of the political order, namely the creation of a German nation-state, on the basis of the Prussian-dominated Zollverein (Customs Union). They also advocated greater civil liberties and the abolition of serfdom and feudalism.

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Now, to begin with, regarding the promotion of national concerns through joint leadership and representation, there was general agreement that nothing fruitful was to be expected from the Confederal Assembly as currently constituted. As far as the establishment of legislative bodies based on the estates, [the establishment] of free trade and commerce, of river navigation, and of free use of the press etc. is concerned, the Confederal Assembly has not solved its task as defined by the Confederal Act; the Confederal military constitution has provided neither for general popular armament nor for a regularly organized Confederal army. By contrast, the press has been placed under pressure of censorship, and the minutes of the Confederal Assembly are shrouded in darkness, from which resolutions come to light from time to time that lay obstacles in the path of every free development. The sole bond of shared German interests, the Zollverein [Customs Union], was not created by the Confederation, but rather outside it, through treaties between the individual states; even the negotiations about a German commercial credit law and a postal union were not managed by the Confederation, but by plenipotentiaries of the individual governments. To these and similar observations the question was attached: whether representing the nation at the Confederal Assembly might effect improvement and therefore be put forward as a desirable goal for friends of the Fatherland? Speaking for the affirmative was the peoples' receptiveness to the edifying thought, the consideration that the only possible way to justify a representation for all the confederal states would be with the given organ of the confederal governments, and the expectation that the strengthened public opinion would also aim to achieve this and thereby open the way to a German policy and to an energetic development of all the intellectual and material resources of the nation. In opposition, it was argued that, however edifying the thought, the prospect of its realization just was not there. The Confederation includes members that are simultaneously foreign powers, like Denmark and the Netherlands, who would never warm to a pro-German policy and the strengthening of German power; others are, at the least, not exclusively German powers, and also contain territories like East Prussia, which, while German, do not belong to the Confederation. Furthermore, a national representation would also require a national government, equipped with the powers of the highest authority of the state, which does not exist in a confederation under international law. The goal of unifying Germany toward a German policy and common leadership and cultivation of national interests will be sooner achieved when one wins over public opinion to [the

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