The 1840 Rhine Crisis was triggered by frustrated French imperialist advances in the Levant after the dominion of the Ottoman empire had been reduced over these territories. Following this, the political project of extending French frontiers moved closer to home, starting a dispute on French natural borders to Germany. The left bank of the Rhine had been lost to Prussia and other German-speaking states following the Congress of Vienna 1814/5. It was to be re-introduced as ‘natural border’ between France and German-speaking countries. This imperialist advancement in Europe itself was met by huge outcry in German-speaking countries. Such outcry, however, was soon met by satire and cynicism highlighting the little cultural and folk value the Rheinliedbewegung had to offer to Germans and German identity.
This poem was published in the wake of the announcement of Crown Prince Wilhelm post as governor of the Rhine province in 1850. Crown Prince Wilhelm, future Prussian emperor Wilhelm I, had brutally supressed Berlin protestors at the beginning of the March revolution in 1848, upon which he was denounce ‘Kartätschenprinz’ (grapheshot prince). He went into exile to London. The Prussian king had promised the Prussian assembly that he would never be allowed to return to Germany and hold positions of government or royalty. The news of arrival of Crown Prince Wilhelm as military governor in Koblenz, signalled the end of the 1848/9 revolution in the Rhineland, as it was a gross break of promise of the Prussian king to the Germans.
William, in the following years, became much more liberal and popular among the inhabitants of Koblenz due to the influence of his wife Augusta of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, who by implication was profoundly disliked at the Berlin court. This poem highlights the tense relationship between the Rhineprovince and the Prussian monarchy, which would continue beyond the immediate 1848/9 aftermath.
Rheinischer Protest Wir wollen ihn nicht haben, Den Herrn Kartätschenprinz; Mag Rußland ihn begraben In seiner Eisprovinz! Mag er darauf verzichten, Zu herrschen einst am Rhein, Wir wollen ihn mit Nichten, Den Bürgermörder - Nein! Wir wollen ihn nicht haben Den Schild der Despotie, Der für der Freiheit Gaben Nie fühlte Sympathie; Der nur die Frucht vom Fleiße Des armen Volks genießt, Und dann als erster Preuße Dasselbe niederschießt. Wir wollen ihn nicht haben, Den Groß-Parade-Held, Der uns're wackre Knaben Als sein uppen hält; Der um das Volk zu knechten Zum Brudermord sie zwingt, Und uns statt deutschen Rechten Nur Rußlands Knute bringt. Wir alle wollen haben, am freien deutschen Rhein, Das Könighthum begraben, Und selbst Regenten sein; Nur dann erblüht für Jeden Der Freiheit goldnes Glück: Drum fort mit Majestäten, Es leb' die Republik.
Rhenish Protest We do not want the Herr Kartätschenprinz May Russia bury him in his cold province May he renounce to rule at the Rhine By no means do we want him, The murderer of citizen - no We do not want him the shield of despotism Who never for liberty had any sympathy Who only enjoys the profit from the effort of the poor people and then as the first Prussian shoots the very same We do not want him, the hero of great parades, Who holds our brave young men as his dolls Who to enslave the people forces them to commit fratricide And instead of German rights brings only Russia's rod We all want, at the free German Rhine, to bury the kingdom to be the rulers ourselves Only then liberty’s golden Luck will prosper for everyone Thus, get rid of majesties, All hail the Republic