Collection: Sosnowski Family Letters

Description: Letter from Mattheus Schlemmer to his sister-in-law, Sophie Sosnowski, April 8, 1849.

Mattheus Schlemmer to Sophie Sosnowski, April 8, 1849

English Text

April 8, 1849.

My dear Sister-in-law:

Compare my writing today with that of a year ago, and you will find how very much my former hopes and expectations of the situation in Germany have been shattered. All our hopes of a free, unified Germany are lost and through whom? You will be astonished when I tell you: through nobody else than the people who have always been looked at as doing their best, and also have been at the head of the movement in March 1848. 

Walden, Netherland, Sachen, Jurden, Eisennau, Bayern and Württemberg. 

In March 1848, Germany demanded self-rule, Austria included. It formed a German parliament and held meetings to elect 20 people who should be called representatives, and should easily impress the whole Germany and be independent from the present government, and therefore be called constitutional, and all leaders and officers should obey this constitution. So it happened that in Frankfurt am Main on the first day of April, 1848, they united themselves with the federal government. This parliament consists mostly of members of different classes, rascals and all kinds of men with political influence, and men of the world. This parliament was a sort of place where they made speeches and rules to suit themselves and transacted business quietly. Of course, the Prince had to submit to it as he did not have the power to stop it yet. Indeed, he even had to be glad about it, as otherwise it would have meant the overthrowing of the throne. They knew well that the majority of people would stand by the rules of the parliament, which declared themselves signed. It then should have exercised its power and declared a republic with the cooperation of the people, but they did not do so. They still supported the throne, yet they voted in favor of parliamentary meetings, etc. They also succeeded at the end of May in getting the two lawyers, Hecker and Struve, out of parliament, as they were not wanted. Then they started a republican movement in the upper part of the State, including Austria and Freiburg, but they were checked by the power of the militia and Württemberg, Bayern, Hessen and Prussian solders taking part as our own w not enough and no dependence on them; and as other states made similar attempts, so was the power necessary at the end of June to elect an Archduke, Johann , as representative who then connected himself with the parliament. This Duke had the power in the Senate to confirm any law made or to throw it over if he saw fit; he also had the power to use any means to keep peace and order. His office was equal to that of the Executive of the United States… they had to obey him in all things. In this way they received all rights of citizens, freedom, which means they have the right to establish organizations and hold their meetings, the right to believe in any religion and do away with the old cruel system of justice. All ranks and titles should exist. Austria, Prussia, Bavaria and Hanover have not settled their ground base until today, because the government did not care and the central government did not compel them as they were not able to do it. Then the leaders of several states formed the parliament and above them an Emperor with a responsible cabinet and a House of Commons for all Germans. The Emperor should receive a salary equal to that of the President of the U.S. and for the election of the Emperor on the 28th of last month, a large meeting was held in parliament. Do you believe right---? The King Frederick W. of Prussia! He had for himself 290 votes while 268 members did not vote at all, these being mostly people from Austria and Bayern. Now we have a free German land and our own right way. Of course, they feel themselves under certain obligations towards the minister of parliament and gave him a surprise; 32 men were elected to go to Berlin and the young King called his folks together on the 18th and 19th days of March and after a very hot dispute, disbanded them with bayonets. It was the cause for the residents of Berlin having been since November under the ban of war.