Censorship During Marx’s Lifetime

(Critical Guide to Censorship and Literature)

On October 15, 1842, the young Marx took over editorship of the newspaper Rheinische Zeitung. It had been the liberal democratic publication of a group of young merchants, bankers, and industrialists. Under his editorship, it began printing fierce criticisms of German governments. After Marx’s year as editor, the paper was suppressed and Marx himself had to go to Paris. In 1845 he contributed articles to the Paris based radical magazine Vorwarts. After pressure from the Prussian foreign office, this publication was outlawed and Marx was expelled from France.

Along with Frederick Engels, Marx was commissioned by the Communist League, a small organization of German revolutionaries, to write The Communist Manifesto. Completed in early 1848, this was to become one of the most widely read political pamphlets in world history—as well as one of the most-often suppressed tracts in history. It was, for example, outlawed in many German states upon its appearance; it was later banned from Prussia by Otto von Bismarck, and was prohibited from Nazi Germany by Adolf Hitler.

With the outbreak of revolutions throughout Europe in 1848, Marx returned to Germany and assumed editorship of the renamed Neue Rheinische Zeitung, which called itself “an organ of democracy.” The paper called for tax resistance and advocated armed self-defense against Prussian emperor Frederick William. In response, the government suppressed...

(The entire section is 504 words.)