May contain censorship revolutions

In the area of ​​censorship, the absolutist authorities feared for their monopoly over the control and regulation of the public. Even if it was tried again and again, the media development could not be hindered by interventions and sanctions. The demands of the bourgeoisie for participation in political power could no longer be ignored. In the economically oriented book market, it was in the authors' interest to maintain publication opportunities. In addition, the legal position of the author changed: while the 18th century only knew the publisher's rights to a book, in the 19th century the rights were tied to the author and his heirs. The production of books became more efficient and cheaper and the distribution of printed works more efficient. After a wave of literacy, socially differently structured readers became accessible to literature. Literary media developed into carriers of political opinion-forming, here newspapers and magazines in particular played an important role.

Political poetry has become a major form of political communication and has been targeted by censors. Precisely circumscribed catalogs of requirements and prohibitions replaced the previous system of arbitrary police prosecution of authors, printers and dealers.

The censor had become a full-time official, the reactions of threatened authors and book producers became more flexible - different reactions to censorship and prohibition are: radical opposition, assimilation or denunciation. Literature was used operationally in the fight against censorship, censorship-relevant topics such as blasphemy or deliberate violations of morality, religion or social order were dealt with. But there are also retreats into the private sphere, apolitical attitudes and authors who work with self-censorship and literary 'masking'.

In the decade before the bourgeois March revolution in 1848, there were spectacular cases of prohibition and persecution and the opposition was radicalized. In accordance with the territorial division of Germany, regional differences persisted in the exercise of censorship, determined by political, economic and socio-political interests. With the "Karlovy Vary resolutions"In 1819 the first attempt was made to enforce a state-wide censorship system. Nevertheless, it was not until 1874 that a supraregional press law came into force.

In addition to the state and the church, other political, religious and economic interest groups also wanted to exert an influence on the literary industry and public opinion.

Censorship as a means of controlling public opinion
Napoleon's military advance changed the territorial and political map considerably. In the areas on the left bank of the Rhine and in northern Germany, French law now applied. In the newly created areas (Westphalia, Frankfurt) and in the states of the Rhine Confederation (Baden-Württemberg, Hesse, Bavaria), Napoleon also had the French legal and administrative system introduced. The pre-censorship had been abolished in France in 1794, but the post-censorship had repressive penalties at its disposal. Napoleon's focus was on political and religious publications as well as the press. On February 5, 1810, Napoleon enacted one Law on the Control and Centralization of the Book Trade, which should in particular determine the number of printers in the respective departments. Scientific literature and fiction titles remained largely unmolested. Political and religious publications, magazines and journals, on the other hand, were closely controlled by centralized censorship authorities. The French authorities insisted that political news from the official Monitor were taken over. There was also a well-functioning police surveillance system and strict guidelines for reporting titles to the central censorship authority "Direction de l'imprimerie et de la librairie" in Paris before they were finally printed.

Karlovy Vary resolutions up to the 1848 revolution
In June 1815 a "German Federal Act" was passed at the Congress of Vienna, which formed the basis for the German Confederation, in which 39 territorial powers came together. Article 18d of the Federal Act provided for a uniform regulation for the book and press system and set in motion a broad discussion on censorship and freedom of the press.

Johann Gottlieb Fichte

Johann Gottlieb Fichte: Speeches to the German Nation
Fichte, who was forced to give up his professorship in Jena as early as 1799 due to his sympathy for the French Revolution, had meanwhile accepted a call to Berlin, where he spoke in 1807/08 in the "Speeches to the German Nation" against the "enemy of the country" Napoleon turned around and called for a radical political and social reorientation of Prussia. A publication of the "Speeches to the German Nation" was only possible after smooth self-censorship, which was supposed to conceal the anti-French character of the text. A second edition, which the publisher Georg Andreas Reimer planned in 1824, did not materialize in Berlin due to Prussian censorship arguments. The work was then printed by the Leipzig publisher Friedrich Ludwig Herbig, who was not objected to by the Saxon censors.

Heinrich von Kleist

Heinrich von Kleist: Berlin evening papers
In this case too, consideration for the French occupying power played a decisive role and determined the arguments of the censors. At the same time, it became an inconvenient periodical and disciplined its editor. In the daily evening papers a threat to the political room for maneuver was seen. Heinrich von Kleist's editorial team soon stopped receiving police reports, political articles were banned and cultural reporting was also interfered with.

The murder of the writer August von Kotzebue by the fraternity member Karl Sand on March 23rd provided the occasion to tighten the press laws. The attack was portrayed as the result of an uncontrolled freedom movement. The Karlovy Vary resolutions passed on September 20, 1819 contained the following key point: pre-censorship was reintroduced for all printed works with a volume of less than 20 printed sheets (= 320 pages) in octave format, and censorship measures did not have to be justified. Political expression in newspapers and brochures should be made more difficult. With the Karlovy Vary resolutions, a nationwide organ to exert influence on the book and press was also to be created.

The high point in the persecution of oppositional literature was the ban on "Junge Deutschland" on December 10, 1835. The trigger for the decision was Karl Gutzkow's novel "Wally, the Doubtler". Ludolf Wienbarg, Theodor Mundt, Heinrich Laube and Heinrich Heine as well as the Hamburg publishing house Hoffmann and Campe were branded as the hard core of the movement. Active resistance formed against this: Georg Büchner joined the radical political opposition in Hesse, founded a society for human rights and took part in the pamphlet agitation with the "Hessischer Landbote" (early summer 1834). After confidants were arrested and Büchner was wanted with an arrest warrant, he fled to Strasbourg in March 1835, from where it was no longer possible for him to publish. During Büchner's lifetime only the revolutionary drama "Danton's Death" was published in the magazine Phönix. This and the later version of the book, however, were "cleaned up" by Gutzkow.

Heinrich Heine developed other strategies in dealing with censorship: he tried to translate the permanent threat of censorship into literature and to inform the public and to subvert it through self-control. From the beginning of the 1840s, political poetry became a coveted commodity in the literary market. Censorship became the preferred subject of literary production, and the varying censorship practices within Germany were used as a loophole.

The resistance against the political restoration could not be broken in the 1840s by spying, denunciations, police measures, bans and confiscations. Booksellers and publishers defended the Leipzig trade fair venue in censored-liberal Saxony against Prussia and Austria. In 1842 and 1845 the "Börsenverein der Deutschen Buchhandels" protested against the economically ruinous actions of the censors and the police. The booksellers called for a reduction in press restrictions and the restoration of "complete freedom of the press".

On March 28, 1849, freedom of the press was for the first time enshrined in a German constitution as a fundamental right. But as early as 1851 a new press law came into force in Prussia, which formulated new rules for the control of the book and press system. The responsibility for the harmlessness did not lie with the censors, but with the producers. This changed the responsibility for control from the police to the judiciary. In addition, a modified previous censorship was practiced and every printed product had to be submitted.