Rheinischer Merkur, 9. September 1815
Rheinischer Merkur 9.9. 1815.jpg


The Rheinischer Merkur was a German newspaper published by Josef Görres every two days between 1814 and 1816. It was the most popular and wide-spread German publication during these years, stimulating intellectual debate among the middle classes across continental Europe.

The RM introduced a journalistic novelty, the Leitartikel, a longer piece of reading covering the first few pages of the paper that often scrutinised current news and developments and shaped public opinion by aiming to provide balanced and truthful reporting. Content includes increasingly pro-Prussian tracts against Metternich’s restorative tactics at the congress of Vienna. It sketches out demands for a German union under a constitution with an army, a common foreign policy and tax system, and justice and trade under a dynastic, Catholic ruler reinstating the estates destroyed by the French. As these demands were not met during the Congress nor in its treatise, Görres became increasingly subversive and anti-Prussian as he saw that promises of a constitution would fail to be met by 1815.

The newspaper, ultimately, was banned by the King in early 1816 with grave consequences for Görres’ status within the Prussian officialdom and among the Prussian government.


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#16Josef GörresDetails
Josef Görres (1776, Koblenz - 1848, Munich) was a writer, teacher, philosopher, and theologian. He directly witnessed several political currents during his lifetime, always enthusiastically embracing them only to later discard and criticise them in his magniloquent, complex, polemical writings. Caught between the extremes of French revolutionary ideals, German unification, Prussian militarism, and Hapsburg restoration, he aimed to strike a balance between upholding rights, truth, and freedom (Fink-Lang, 2013: 7-9).

A cunning polemicist, Görres polarised public opinion through several publications of various political orientations, always calling out arbitrary despotism, whether during the French occupation, the Congress of Vienna, or the Prussian rule of the Rhineland. His writings in the Rheinischer Merkur (1814-1816) and his pamphlet Teutschland und die Revolution (1819) made him one of the earliest and ardent champions of German unification and nationalism. Additionally, Athansasius (1838) is considered the foundation for political Catholicism during the Vormärz.

A key figure to establish acceptance of the Prussians among the Rhinelanders, he rose to Director of Public Schooling in the Rhineland. However, when his hopes were disappointed by restorative measures of the Prussian King who failed to deliver a constitution as promised in article 13 of the Bundesakte (German Federal Act), he became openly subversive in his writing and his opinion. His controversial anti-Prussian tract Teutschland und die Revolution (1819) triggered his prosecution by the Prussians, forcing him to flee to France and later settle in Munich - never to return.

The statue is situated on the left bank of the Rhine in Görres home-town Koblenz. Plans for such a commemorative statue existed since the 1840s, but only came to fruition during French military government in the 1920s, mostly due to Prussian political repression of such plans.