Friedrich Engels

1820-1895 • Germany

Communist • Marx • Second International • Socialist

Following the customary sequencing of their names, ‘Marx and Engels’, I thought, ‘Nice day, let’s follow up the reference in the Communist Manifesto to their first meeting’.

So I walked to Rue Vaneau where Karl Marx lived from 1843 to 1845. There were fields and a pond at the back then (now the gardens of the Matignon Palace).

I then strolled the 35 minutes from there and across the Pont Royal bridge to the place where the Café de la Régence used to be in the Rue Saint-Honoré, opposite the Palais Royal. This was where Karl met the 24-year-old Friedrich Engels (a very handsome young man) on August 28 1844.

Marx, then 26, had moved to Paris to work away from the risk of jail in Germany on a German-French socialist-leaning periodical. He had read and liked Engels’ serialised articles on the ‘Condition of the Working Class in England‘, and they had corresponded. So it wasn’t an accidental meeting.

Upstairs at the Café de la Régence was the epicentre of the French chess circle – where allegedly Robespierre and Napoleon and Louis Philippe had all played chess (no not together!). The cafe also doubled as one of Paris’ four cafe/shop post offices at the time.

Maybe they played chess together? Or bought some stamps?

Unlikely. Engels wrote later: When I visited Marx in Paris in the summer of 1844, our complete agreement in all theoretical fields became evident and our joint work dates from that time.

Their very first joint work, published in German in February 1845, was The Holy Family, a critique of the Young Hegelians. Engels had completed his allocated chapters (1, 2, 3 and sections of others) before he left to go back to work at Manchester’s Ermen & Engels factory on September 6.

Engels visited Marx again, soon after Marx was expelled from France to Brussels. in the summer of 1845 he took Marx on a trip to London and Manchester, preparing the ground for the establishment of the Fraternal Democrats. By then Engels had resigned from his Manchester job

In 1846 and 1847 Engels often travelled between Paris and Brussels attempting to build a Communist Corresponding network. Engels was then expelled from France at the end of January 1848 because of his political activities. He lived during those years on the money sent him by his mother and father.

In the wake of the February 1848 revolution that overthrew Louis-Philippe, Marx was expelled from Belgium and returned to Paris on March 4 1848. Engels joined him there soon afterwards. They both then returned to Germany and on June 1 1848 published the first edition of their New Rhenish Gazette.

With the failure of the 1848-1849 German Revolutions, Engels and Marx were forced to flee. Marx went to London via Paris. Engels to London and then in November 1850 to Manchester where he became manager of the office there of Ermen and Engels, in order to be able to earn money with which to support Marx..

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