The holy family

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The Holy Family, 1845

The Holy Family, or Critique of Critical Criticism. Against Bruno Bauer & Consorten is the title of a book by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels that appeared in the spring of 1845.

It is the first work that Marx and Engels wrote together. They decided to do this at their first personal meeting in August 1844.

Print preparation

In an undated letter to Heinrich Börnstein in autumn 1844 , Marx asked whether A. Frank could publish the book in Brussels . Marx directed another request to Julius Campe in Hamburg. Finally, Marx entered into correspondence with the literary institution (J. Rütten), which was not founded until July 1, 1844 . On December 3, 1844, the two publishers Joseph Rütten and Zacharias Loewenthal wrote to Marx that the book was almost finished and sent a bill of exchange for 1000 francs. On December 9, 1844, the Metternich Confident Hermann Ebner reported that Marx would have a pamphlet against Bruno Bauer printed by Rütten. On December 27, 1844, Loewenthal proposed the final title of the book to Marx: The Holy Family, or Critique of Critical Criticism. Against Bruno Bauer and consorts . On January 15, 1845, Loewenthal added the last corrections requested by Marx. The book was then delivered at the beginning of February 1845.

Intent of writing

The intention of the authors was to distance themselves from the theoretical development of Bruno Bauer - former mentor of Marx - and to acknowledge Ludwig Feuerbach's “real humanism” .

The main content is the contradiction between Hegel's idealistic and Marx's materialistic conception of dialectics and, in particular, a criticism of the Young Hegelians Bruno Bauer and his brother Edgar Bauer as well as a number of less well-known authors from among the Berlin “ free ”. It is noticeable that Marx here Max Stirner , who belonged to Bauer's immediate circle, was not one of the “consorts” and excluded from his criticism.

The tenor of the text, around 90% of which comes from Marx, is consistently polemical to mocking, which is not indicated by the subtitle: Against Bruno Bauer & Consorten . Even the main title mocks Bruno Bauer's philosophy with the invented term “critical criticism”. Because Bauer called his critical theory, which he developed mainly in articles from the 1844 volume of the Allgemeine Literaturzeitung , of course not “Critical Criticism”, but “ Pure Criticism ”.

The Junghegelianer were based on Hegel believed that history was only an expression of the advancement of human reason and therefore rejected any political commitment. Marx and Engels criticized this view in the Holy Family as being unrealistic:

“As with Hegel, the result of real development is nothing other than that which has been proven, i.e. H. Truth brought to consciousness. [...] Absolute criticism speaks of 'truths that are self-evident from the start'. [...] A truth that is self-evident has lost its salt, its meaning, its value for absolute criticism as well as for divine dialectic. It has become bland like stale water. Absolute criticism therefore proves on the one hand everything that is self-evident, and also many things that are lucky enough to be incomprehensible, that is, will never understand themselves. On the other hand, everything that needs development is self-evident to it. Why? Because with real tasks it goes without saying that they do not understand themselves. "

According to Friedrich Engels own words, he himself contributed “almost nothing” to the work, which is why he considers it “curious” that he is named as an author alongside Marx. Otherwise, he rates the work as “splendid”, “splendidly written and makes you laugh sick”, but in its entirety “too big” and overall “incomprehensible to the larger public”.

Meaning of the script

The holy family is a writing of transition in the theoretical development of Marx. While he is still committed to Feuerbach, the writing of his theses on Feuerbach , shortly after the book was published in February 1845, shows that he was already beginning to break away from Feuerbach. This process began under the impression of Feuerbach's criticism in Max Stirner's book The Single and His Property (October 1844) and was concluded after Marx had read Feuerbach's reply to Stirner and his duplicate in September 1845 . Then Marx began his Stirner criticism "Sankt Max", which remained unpublished and only appeared in the Marx-Engels Complete Edition in 1932 as part of the text bundle Die deutsche Ideologie .


  • Original edition, literary institution (J. Rütten). Frankfurt a. M. 1845. (digitized version)
  • Marx-Engels Complete Edition . Dept. 1, All Works and Writings with the exception of Capital , Vol. 3: The Holy Family and Writings of Marx from the beginning of 1844 to the beginning of 1845 . Marx-Engels-Verlag, Berlin 1932 (Reprint Auvermann, Glashütten im Taunus 1970)
  • Facsimilized reprint, Rütten & Loening , Berlin 1953.
  • Marx-Engels-Werke Vol. 2, Dietz Verlag, Berlin 1957, pp. 3–223. ( DEA archive )


  • Lenin : Conference on Marx 'and Engels' work "The Holy Family" . In: VI Lenin. Works . Vol. 38. Philosophical notebooks . Dietz Verlag, Berlin 1968, pp. 3-37.
  • Wolfgang Mönke : The holy family. On the first joint work by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels . Akademie Verlag, Berlin 1972. (Contains, among other things, 86 documents from 1842–1895.)
  • Wolfgang Mönke: On the editorial and publishing history of the "Holy Family" . In: One hundred and twenty-five years of Rütten & Loening. 1844-1969. An almanac . Rütten & Loening, Berlin 1969, pp. 100-123.
  • Horst Ullrich: On the reaction of bourgeois ideology to the “Holy Family” . In: German magazine for philosophy . 17th year, 1969, issue 7. ISSN  2192-1482
  • The Holy Family, or Critique of Critical Criticism. Against Bruno Bauer & Consorten. In: Bert Andréas : Karl Marx / Friedrich Engels. The end of classical German philosophy. Bibliography . Trier 1983, pp. 73-86. ( Writings from Karl Marx House No. 28)
  • Marion Barzen: The "Holy Family" in Charlottenburg . In: Studies on Marx's first stay in Paris and the emergence of the German ideology. International conference on February 12, 1990 in the study center Karl-Marx-Haus in Trier. Trier 1990, pp. 138-162. ( Writings from the Karl-Marx-Haus Trier, issue 43).
  • Hermann-Peter Eberlein: Bruno Bauer. From Marx friend to anti-Semite . Karl Dietz Verlag, Berlin 2009, ISBN 978-3-320-02180-1 , pp. 139-144.

Web links

Commons : The Holy Family  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Marx-Engels Complete Edition. Department III. Vol. 1, p. 249.
  2. ^ Alfred Frommhold: One hundred and ten years of publishing house Rütten & Loening Berlin. 1844 to 1954. Rütten & Loening, Berlin 1954, p. 28. Marx-Engels-Gesamtausgabe. Department III. Vol. 1, p. 247.
  3. Facsimile of the notification of establishment in: One hundred and twenty-five years Rütten & Loening 1844 - 1969. An Almanach, p. 21.
  4. Wolfgang Mönke, p. 160 f.
  5. Marx-Engels Complete Edition . Department III. Volume 1, p. 446.
  6. Wolfgang Mönke, p. 163.
  7. Marx-Engels Complete Edition. Department III. Volume 1, p. 447.
  8. Wolfgang Mönke, p. 164 ff.
  9. Marx-Engels Complete Edition. Department III. Volume 1, p. 448 f.
  10. See the “Preface” to the book, especially the first sentence.
  11. The text portion of Marx (about 90%) results from the information in the table of contents - Volume 2 of MEW, pp. 723-725 - where the author is named for each chapter
  12. One of Bauer's related articles What is the subject of criticism now?
  13. Nevertheless, due to the power of Marx, it is almost only known as “critical criticism” - and also only as a phrase.
  14. Karl Marx: The Holy Family , VI. Chapter online
  15. ^ Friedrich Engels in Marx Friedrich Engels Works Volume 27, p. 22
  16. ^ Friedrich Engels in Marx Friedrich Engels Works Volume 27, p. 22
  17. ^ Friedrich Engels in Marx Friedrich Engels Works Volume 27, p. 26
  18. ^ Anonymous [Ludwig Feuerbach]: About the "essence of Christianity" in relation to the "individual and his property". In: ders .: Collected Works , Volume 9, Berlin 1990, pp. 427–441; M [ax] St [irner]: Stirner's reviewers . In: Max Stirner: Parerga, Critics, Replicas, Nuremberg 1986, pp. 147-205.
  19. A material and knowledgeable study of this phase of the theoretical development in Marx is: Wolfgang Eßbach : The importance of Max Stirner for the genesis of historical materialism (Diss. 1978), under the title Gegenenzzüge. Frankfurt / M .: Materialis 1982. See also the standard work by Eßbach: Die Junghegelianer. Munich: Wilhelm Fink 1988; offers an outline: Bernd A. Laska : Break the spell! - Max Stirner redivivus. Part 1: About Marx and Marx research In: The only one. Quarterly journal of the Max Stirner Archive Leipzig, No. 3 (11), August 3, 2000, pp. 17–24.