Heinrich von Treitschke.

Treitschke's history of Germany in the nineteenth century (Volume 3) online

. (page 64 of 70)
Online LibraryHeinrich von TreitschkeTreitschke's history of Germany in the nineteenth century (Volume 3) → online text (page 64 of 70)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Henke, Simon, Cloter, and others, was the older literature,
long ago consigned to oblivion, and with which Baumgarten
would seem to have no intimate acquaintance : for instance,
Jarke's work on Sand, a perspicacious and solid criminological
study, which received well- justified praise even from R. von
Mohl, one of Jarke's political opponents ; Hohnhorst's report
of A Sand's trial ; and, above all, the writings of the Uncon-
ditionals themselves, and in especial The Great Song by Carl

In the text I have given some fragments of this song.
I here append additional extracts and leave the reader
to form his own judgment :

Brothers, not thus shall it happen !
Let each now seize his weapon,

Ward off these harms !
Freedom, thy tree rots away !
Each man must now beg his way
Till death hunger's pangs allay

People, to arms !

Brothers in silk attire,
Brothers who work for hire,

Go hand in hand 1
Summoned by German need,
Follow all God's good rede :
Death be th' oppressor's meed ;

Rescue the land !

Then alone shall come good
When ye, for blood and good,

Stake goods and blood.
Cleavers and scythes not few,
Turning to purpose new,
Despots' heads off shall hew !

Fierce be your mood !

And then again :

Arise, Arise, God make you free,

Cast off the chains of slavery,

To Freedom's promised land make way.

Through the Red Sea your course now lies,

The sea which, fed by your children's blood,

Shall overwhelm King Pharaoh's brood,

Of crown and army making prize.

And so on, for the length of an entire broadside.



If this does not mean preaching murder and revolt, then
the German language has lost all signification. Moreover,
these verses were not from the pen of a foolish windbag. They
were written by one who, according to the unanimous testimony
of friends and enemies, attained to an early maturity, was
coldly reasonable, a man who weighed every word. It is
undeniable that the first germs of that devastating radicalism
which a generation later raged across our land are here
unfortunately displayed already in the Burschenschaft, not in
the respectable entirety of that body, but in a small sect of
extremists among its adherents. Now the chief of these
extremists was Carl Follen. Apart from much other evidence,
this is proved by Sand's behaviour under examination. When
it was necessary to protect Carl Follen, Sand was ready for
any lie, and even to make a false accusation against his bosom-
friend Asmis. A work by K. von L. Adolf Lutzow's Volunteers
(Berlin, 1884), is directed against an essay by A. Koberstein
upon Lutzow's Wild and Daring Hunt which was published in
the Preussische Jahrbucher, and K. von L. referred several
times to my history as the principal source of Koberstein's
views. I consider it needless to enter into a polemic of this
character, for Koberstein's essay is dated " Dresden, March,
1881," while the volume of my history which deals with these
incidents was not published until November, 1882. The sole
noteworthy facts which the writer adduces against me refer to
the colours of the Liitzowers' uniform, and these serve merely
to confirm what I had said. The writer admits that the
Liitzowers wore black accoutrements with red facings and gilt
buttons. These colours, black with red-and-gold ornamentation,
are those in which " the black volunteers " are figured in all
pictures of the year 1813. Since, of the three founders of
the Burschenschaft, two were old Liitzowers, I continue to
regard it as extremely probable that the tradition which
derives the colours of the Burschenschaft from the colours
of the Liitzowers' uniform is correct. When writing of the
matter in the history I had no better foundation for this belief.
Recently, however, in the Korner museum at Dresden, I came
across a memoir by the old Liitzower Anton Probsthan of
Mecklenburg (ob. 1882) wherein he relates that his relative
Fraulein Nitschke of Jena presented the Burschenschaft with
a flag at the time of its foundation, and for this purpose chose
the black-red-and-gold colours of the defunct society Vandalia.


History of Germany

I have not hitherto been able to demonstrate the accuracy of
this account ; but it seems to me improbable that the
Burschenschaft, which came into existence in conflict with the
Landsmannschafts, should have adopted the colours of a
Landsmannschaft, unless, perchance, the Vandals wore the same
colours as the Liitzowers.

A few additional rectifications and amplifications. Von
Buri, the young lawyer of Giessen, so his family declares, did
not belong to the extreme section of the Burschenschaft.
Among his papers was found the plan for a national constitution
drawn up by the Blacks (History of the Secret Societies, II,
p. 81). His poem, Scharnhorst's Prayer (subsequently renamed
Kosciuszko's Prayer), was in its original version blamelessly
patriotic, and did not acquire its revolutionary characteristics
until after its elaboration by the brothers Follen. The family
of H. K. Hofmann likewise considers that it has definite ground
for the opinion that he was never in intimate relationships
with Carl Follen. In later years both Buri and Hofmann were
reasonable patriots of moderate views.

The farce Our Traffic, which in the year 1819 aroused so
much anger among the Jews, bore on its title-page as author's
name K. B. Sessa. All the world endeavoured to discover
who could be hidden behind this pseudonym. Goethe, even,
was suggested ; and it was widely asserted that the house of
Rothschild had offered a reward for the discovery of the
malefactor. As the outcome of well accredited communications
from the author's family, I am now able to give his name.
Our Traffic was written by Superintendent Carl Andreas
Maertens of Halberstadt.



FROM the documents of the grand-ducal archives in Weimar,
to which I was able to refer in preparing the fourth edition
of the second volume [German], I append here certain details
relating to the history of the year 1819.

After Stourdza's memorial, and after the congress of
Aix-la-Chapelle, the courts had been greatly concerned about
the universities. Consequently Grand Duke Charles Augustus,



for the protection of his beloved university of Jena, and lest
worse should befall, availed himself of an idea mooted in the
Bundestag by Hanover, and on March n, 1819 (that is to
say, before Kotzebue's assassination), had a proposal made by
von Hendrich, his federal envoy, that the Federation should
institute regulations for university discipline, but that this
should not involve any restriction of the ancient academic
freedoms of Germany. In the following May he sent Privy
Councillor Conta to Frankfort expressly to further this proposal.
After Sand's crime, he had a despatch written by Count Edling,
minister of state, in which it was declared : " All the incidents
which during recent years have aroused suspicion abroad
regarding the spirit prevailing among the Jena students, have
been the work of foreigners." Sand's action was, he said, an
additional proof. (Edling to Hendrich, March 28, 1819.) In
conformity with this view, the grand duke and Duke Augustus
of Gotha issued on March 30th a rescript to the university,
declaring that during the years 1816 and 1817 the university
youth had not disappointed the confident expectations of the
Nutritors (princely patrons). Since then, however, " to our
grave displeasure, the spirit of the students has occasionally
exhibited a destructive tendency. This mood," continued the
rescript, " threatens to extend more widely day by day. Much
of the poison is introduced into Jena from foreign universities
and schools " ; till further notice, therefore, foreign students
could not be admitted to study at Jena without the special
sanction of the government of the country from which they

" Since difficulties appear to arise in connection with the
investigation which has now to be undertaken under the
guidance of the senatus academicus," the grand duke appointed
on March 29th a special committee to try to discover Sand's
possible confederates. It consisted of von Konneritz, the
chamberlain, and Emminghaus, the governmental assessor.
But these officials conducted their investigation as cultured
individuals well acquainted with academic customs, working
conscientiously and benevolently, and also very affably, after
the easy-going Thuringian manner. It was obvious that the
government desired to do all it could to spare the young
braggarts, and it is very probable that many of them were
got out of the way in good time by an oificial hint. From
the first the enquiry was marred by the disintegration of the


History of Germany

German legal systems, for a committee had been appointed
simultaneously in Mannheim to examine the assassin and his
possible accomplices. The two committees acted in complete
independence, their only communication being by means of
a formal exchange of letters, and the Weimar committee
complained on May I2th that while it was sending minutes
of its own proceedings to Mannheim, the Badenese minutes
were not being despatched in return.

Suspicion first fell upon Sand's most intimate friend, the
divinity student Gottlieb Asmis from Mecklenburg. On March
27th, immediately the terrible news reached Jena, Asmis had
left for Wunsiedel to inform Sand's unhappy parents of what
had happened, and for the moment the authorities contented
themselves with a domiciliary search, which led to no result.
So lenient was the procedure, that not until April 7th, several
days after his return, did Asmis appear before the committee.
He innocently declared that the proceedings against him had
been "a great shock" to him, and that this was why he
put in an appearance so late. The committee described him
very accurately as "a good-natured, insignificant, extremely
stupid, but true-hearted man, devotedly attached to the
assassin, and capable of numerous follies under the influence
of his political enthusiasms." During the enquiry he was locked
up for a time. At the subsequent hearing it was established
beyond dispute that the young man had been completely
without prior knowledge of his friend's design ; had he known
of it, he would certainly have frustrated it ; " murder is
murder," he said frankly.

Very different was the character of the proceedings against
Dr. Carl Follen (or Follenius as he then styled himself). Follen,
with the confidence of a skilled advocate, took a firm and
defiant attitude. In ticklish questions he invariably exhibited
an astounding weakness of memory, which seemed almost
miraculous in the strong-willed and coldly calculating man.
This petty Robespierre was endowed with great terroristic
powers, and he played with the committee as a cat plays with
a mouse. In his friends' letters he was often spoken of as
" a predominant man," as one who was able to crush others
morally. On one occasion, they begged him to dissuade a
hotheaded young comrade from indiscreet political utterances,
for Follen alone was capable of exercising the necessary
influence. Since, in his first examination (April 2nd), Follen



was unable to remember anything accurately, a domiciliary
search was immediately instituted. He looked on quietly while
the secretary to the university and a registrar went through
his papers. Suddenly he took a paper out of the pile, a letter
dated the previous February, addressed to him from Eisenach,
and put it in his pocket, declaring, what was afterwards shown
to be untrue, that this letter belonged to his brother. He
then hurried from the room, and did not return for several
minutes. The alarmed officials immediately haled him before
the committee. Here he promised to ask his brother for
permission to make the letter public, went away, and, returning
after a long interval, reported that his brother refused to
hand over the document. Now the committee sagaciously
inferred that the letter must already have been destroyed,
and that the best thing to do would be to seek out the
reputed sender in Eisenach. Pollen was left at liberty, and
made use of his time to parley with Asmis. Certain persons
in the street saw Follen standing at the window of von
Wintzingerode's room, which was close to the lock-up, talking
from this window to Asmis ; another student was standing
beside Follen, and most of the witnesses believed that this
was Wintzingerode himself. Not even the committee could
now avoid suspecting that on this occasion some collusion had
been going on. Follen, however, maintained that all he had said
to the prisoner was a friendly word of greeting, and when
he was thereupon asked to give the name of the student who
had been the only auditor of the dialogue, he was once more
affected by his distressing weakness of memory (Minutes of
May 3rd). He was absolutely unable to recall who the young
man had been, although the conversation had taken place but
a few days before. Next day, May 4th, he was re-examined
by the secretary of the university ; once again he could
remember nothing, but he promised to let the committee know
by the end of the week if anything had recurred to his mind
in the interval. On May 7th, he duly wrote to the committee,
regretting that he could give no further information : "At
the time the affair seemed to me of no importance, and in
matters which I regard as trifling my memory is so weak."
The brilliant idea of asking Wintzingerode does not seem to
have occurred to the committee ; at any rate, the minutes say
nothing of the matter.

In view of this excess of good-nature, the fundamental


History of Germany

mendacity of the Unconditionals had free play. Various
indications, and a certain amount of direct evidence, showed with
considerable probability that Follen, although his own circum-
stances were far from easy, had given the murderer money
for his last journey, and had .also received from Sand for
safe keeping a packet of papers, some of which were subsequently
published in the newspapers. Very remarkable was the fact
that Sand, whose usual practice it was to inscribe all his petty
debts with extreme accuracy in a special account book, had
made no entry of this last and greatest item. Follen, thanks
once more to his weak memory, could give no precise
information about the matter. When examined at Mannheim,
Sand declared that he had received the money from Asmis,
and that it was to Asmis to whom he had given the packet.
This was too much for poor Asmis. Greatly excited, his eyes
streaming with tears, he declared again and again, " I cannot
admit this, not even for the sake of Sand." The young man's
distress was manifestly undissimulated, and the committee at
length arrived at the opinion, which less easy-going persons
would doubtless have formed sooner, that the initiates were
telling all these lies with the sole purpose of saving their chief
Follen at all hazards. On May 28th, therefore, the Jena
committee wrote to that of Mannheim : " Is it not possible
that Sand may desire to avert suspicion from other persons
who in his view are able and circumspect, likely to be of
value and significance to Germany in important concerns, and
that he may prefer to throw the onus upon some ordinary
and insignificant man of whom he anticipates nothing great in
the future ? " Or perhaps Sand had hoped that Asmis would
voluntarily take the blame upon himself (by no means impossible
among such enthusiasts), whereas Asmis had not taken kindly
to the idea.

Since Follen's obdurate lying and unprecedented weakness
of memory had in the end aroused suspicion, he was at length
arrested on May nth, and sent to Weimar, where the committee
was now sitting. In a second domiciliary search a long and
extravagant letter from Sand's mother to Follen was discovered.
The unhappy and infatuated woman compared " our pure,
great martyr " to Martin Luther, writing, " in many respects,
too, he has unquestionably, allowing for certain differences,
exercised an influence similar to that of the great reformer."
She would like to have the grave in Mannheim decorated with



flowers " until one day, perhaps, Germany will gratefully erect
a memorial " [which, as everyone knows, has now been done].
To Follen she says, " May God bless you for using your
strength to save his life." These words referred to the foolish
plan which was often discussed in the circle of the
Unconditionals of rescuing the murderer by force. At the
hearing of May nth the old game was renewed ; Pollen's
memory remained incurably weak. When Konneritz at length
told him that it did not look at all well for him to continue
to declare that he could remember nothing of the affair, Follen
answered impudently that this was to him a completely new
principle in criminal law, and protested against the entire
investigation. The proceedings as a whole afford decisive proof
of the advantages attaching to public and oral hearing. Before
a modern court of law a man of Pollen's reputation and culture
would not long have ventured to play such a part. The very
next day, May I2th, Follen sent the committee a written
demand for his immediate liberation, on the ground that he
did not wish to miss his lectures, explaining with casuistic
adroitness that the worst he could be accused of was a failure
to read the signs, and that this was not a punishable offence.
As an outcome of this letter he was on the same day once
more confronted with Asmis, but his memory again left him
in the lurch. He was then set at liberty. At the subsequent
hearings (May 23rd, and June 8th and loth) the same farce
was re-enacted, Follen continually deposing that he had no
precise recollection of what had happened. When Sand at
length retracted some of his lies, Follen opined that Sand must
have been out of his mind, and offered to swear that he
had never received the packet from Sand an oath which,
in accordance with the principles of the Unconditionals, it
would cost him very little to make. Regarding the
Unconditionals he said innocently, as if to make a mock of
the committee : " An Unconditional is a man who strives
unconditionally for cultivation, and who acts unconditionally
in accordance with his conviction."

The philosopher Fries was also examined, on April 3rd
and subsequent days. He declared that he knew absolutely
nothing about the revolutionary party in the Burschenschaft,
and refused to believe that an inner league had existed. It
was however remarkable to observe how strongly even this
professor was befooled by the subjectivist morality which had


History of Germany

led the students' intelligence astray. He expressed his opinion
quite frankly that Sand had been convinced by a number of
his fellow-students of their willingness to devote their lives
at any moment to the cause which they, like Sand himself,
recognised as good and salutary. This confusion of ideas was
general, and few took so sober a view as did old Frommann,
who on March 28th wrote to his son, a member of the
Burschenschaft : "I come, now, to our youthful Solons and
Aristarchuses ! Look at them in the seventh heaven under
the influence of a series of fallacies and inconsequences ; note
how their minds have been misled by a number of half-
understood and misunderstood propositions ; contemplate the
manner in which they pass facile judgments about all the affairs
of life and of the state. I am profoundly concerned, I am
grieved to the soul, for it is not by this route that we shall
make our way to better times." Kieser, a medical man friendly
to gymnastics, had nothing relevant to depose, and was already
voicing that ingenious theory which has since then become a
fad of the doctors, opining that Sand was mentally disordered,
perhaps even the subject of hereditary taint. (Kieser to the
senatus academicus, April 4th.) The examination of young
Heinrich Leo (April 3rd) proved equally fruitless. The
committee of the Burschenschaft was also examined, on the
command of Charles Augustus, but since the Burschenschaft
as such had nothing to do with the Unconditionals, and since
many of the members of the former body knew nothing about
the existence of the secret society, on April 28th the committee
reported as follows to the grand duke : " We are now able
to declare with absolute certainty that the Burschenschaft
association and its principles did not exercise the remotest
influence in causing Sand's actions; that the Burschenschaft
continues to exist in its pristine purity ; and indeed that
this organisation, during recent months in which its membership
has considerably increased, has perhaps assumed a more equable
character, one more suitable to academic youth and to the
relationship in which the students stand to the state."
Indubitably these well-meaning words were not in complete
accord with the personal opinion of the good prince, who but
five weeks earlier had publicly declared that the spirit of the
students had very recently turned here and there in disastrous
directions. In the end, the only thing certainly proved against
Dr. Pollen was that he had furnished the assassin with money



for the journey, and this offered no ground for legal action.
For additional characterisation of the German legal procedure
of that day it may be mentioned that Privy Councillor Conta,
who had gone from Frankfurt to visit the Mannheim committee,
brought back thence the Weimar documents in his own
carriage because such papers could not be safely entrusted to
the Thurn and Taxis postal service. (Conta's Report to the
grand duke, May 4, 1819.) It is not part of the historian's
duties to assume the role of public prosecutor, but after the
study of the Weimar minutes I feel it necessary to maintain
down to the very last word what I have written in the text
regarding Pollen's character and political activities.

Numerous letters and anecdotes show that long before his
crime Sand had indulged in vague dreams of a hero's death.
In additional confirmation, I reproduce here the leaf of an
album, of which the original has been shown to me by a
friendly reader :

" Our life is a hero's course ; speedy victory ; early death !
Nothing else matters, if only we are real heroes. If only we
strive, in continuous upward soaring and prayer, towards our
heavenly father, and in dauntless enthusiasm live for his will.
We never fail to conquer when we are personally efficient and
alert. Premature death does not interrupt our victorious career,
if only we die as heroes. Let our device be : With lowly
spirit to maintain a pious belief in God, to love actively what
we have to do here on earth, to love actively our nation and our
fatherland. We must live in freedom, or go freely to join
our happy forefathers. Amen ! "

" If you gain a firm footing in Voigtland, give a thought
to your neighbour in the Fichtelgebirge engaged in the same
struggle, and join in German friendship for the good of the
fatherland with your devoted


" Jena, " the student from Wunsiedel

"June 21, 1818."

The innocent patriotic hopes with which the students were
animated at the time of the Wartburg festival find faithful
expression in an Instruction which Franz Hegewisch of Kiel
gave, on the way to the Wartburg, to Justus Olshausen, a
student from Kiel who subsequently became a distinguished


History of Germany

orientalist and who was for many years referendary for the
Prussian universities. At this time, Hegewisch was thirty-four
years of age, a skilful and discerning physician. His principles
recall the well-known Confession of Faith of the philosopher
Fries, but are far more judicious and thoughtful, and are
characterised by profounder political insight. None the less
they demonstrate how nebulous and inflated were the dreams
amid which the age still moved.


for certain resolutions for formulation and adoption at
the Wartburg on October i8th.


Against their most dangerous and most hateful of enemies,
the Germans have fought with vigour, with good fortune, and
with a happy issue. But what were we fighting for ? We
were fighting for better times. The day of justice must come.
The blood of the German youth must not have been shed
in vain ; it was poured out cheerfully and willingly, so that
right should be securely established against might, not from
without merely, but also from within. We long for justice
and order ; we desire that good laws shall prevail.

Online LibraryHeinrich von TreitschkeTreitschke's history of Germany in the nineteenth century (Volume 3) → online text (page 64 of 70)