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Württemberg Democrat Ludwig Pfau on German Federalism (1864/1895)

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Whatever may come, our efforts constitute preparatory work for the future. History is our providence, the rule of law our pope, and free will our emperor. Reason alone is a product of God’s grace, and it is more powerful than all the princes in the world; its will shall be done, and its kingdom shall come to us – Amen.

When we wrote these words 30 years ago, the hegemonists were more than a little infuriated by the sharpness of our Latin motto, although any decent man understood that it was to be taken cum grano salis, with a grain of salt, and not in the sense of Cato’s destruction of Carthage. It was merely meant to give vivid expression to the correct insight that the development of a liberal Germany would not be possible without the elimination of Prussian despotism; it demanded, albeit with more pugnacious words, the very thing that Friedrich Wilhelm IV promised (but naturally reneged upon) on March 21, 1848, when he said, while parading with the German flag: “Prussia will henceforth be merged into Germany.”* And today – when the nation has not heeded the warning voice of federalist democracy; when the argument of bayonets has proven right for the time being; and [when the nation] has not, as we predicted, brought German freedom, but has still taken away what little liberty Bavaria, Swabia, Baden, and Hesse once enjoyed, continuing the traditional absolutist rape of rights and justice – today, we once again write the old aphorism on the old plinth of the new Reich:

“Ceterum censeo Borussiam esse delendam.”

This means: “Prussia must be absorbed into Germany.”**

* “Preußen geht fortan in Deutschland auf.” – ed.
** “Preußen muß in Deutschland aufgehen.” – ed.

Source: Ludwig Pfau, “Centralisation und Föderation” [“Centralization and Federation”], Der Beobachter [The Observer], April 23/29, 1864.

Edited and republished as “Centralisation oder Föderation?” [“Centralization or Federation?”] in Ludwig Pfau, Politisches und Polemisches aus den nachgelassenen Schriften [Political and Polemical Writings from his Posthumous Works] Stuttgart: Dr. Foerster & Cie, 1895, pp. 151-74.

Translation: Erwin Fink

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