Secret Police

The Carlsbad Congress of 1819 blamed not the individual Karl Sand for the assassination of Russian Diplomat August von Kotzebue, but liberals, nationalists and other suspicious elements in general. The Carlsbad Resolutions of 1819 decided on the establishment of a secret police in the various countries, with the object to observe politically suspicious elements.
Clubs, societies, with an explicit agenda or without, were banned; yet scholars promoted national identity by compiling a dictionary of the German language (Grimm brothers), collecting German fairytales, historians published histories of nations, compiled documents of national history, writers wrote novels, poems, songs with a similar intention. Even choires and sports meetings had a political agenda, as the songs sung ridiculed Germany's petty monarchies or criticized the system.

A popular German song of the early 19th century, Die Gedanken sind frei (Thoughts are free), expresses political sentiment widespread among intellectuals : and if I am locked up in a dark prison cell, this is in vain, for my thoughts tear the bars and walls in pieces, the fact remains, thoughts are free.
It has to be stated, that the agents of the Prussian and Austrian secret police were state officials and acted within the framework of regulations passed by their respective administrations; they may have arrested individuals, but they refrained from torture and murder, as implemented by the GeStaPo a century later.
Numerous German, Polish, Hungarian, Czech intellectuals fled the atmosphere of political suppression; Paris attracted many of these.

DOCUMENTS Carlsbad Resolutions, from Hanover Historical Texts Project
Die Gedanken sind Frei, from Liederbuch, in German

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on September 30th 2003, last revisede on November 16th 2004

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