Copyright
Thomas B. (Thomas Brackett) Reed.

Modern eloquence; (Volume 11) online

. (page 18 of 43)
Online LibraryThomas B. (Thomas Brackett) ReedModern eloquence; (Volume 11) → online text (page 18 of 43)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


organize cooperative unions, to which they attribute a
marked influence in the sociological field. I do not hold
that view. Necessary and useful as associations may be,



SOCIALISM AND ASSASSINATION 167

we all agree that of themselves they accomplish nothing.
The same is true of the cooperative unions, which, how-
ever, do a certain amount of good, provided always they
are properly managed. I am not opposed to their forma-
tion, but I make no efforts to bring them into existence.
Thirty-five years ago I founded a cooperative union, and
subsequently vowed never to do such a thing again. But
nothing can be said against cooperative unions as such.
Many social democrats, especially in Saxony, belong to
them, even though they afford no economic cure-all. But
to say of people who want to found associations and cooper-
ative unions that they are planning assassination is most
infamous slander.

We appreciate the law of evolution. Natural as is the
longing of the toiling masses to be freed from want and
from political and economic oppression to-day rather than
to-morrow, we know that our end cannot be gained until
the general evolution which we seek to further by organi-
zing the working classes for the coming struggle is so far
advanced that our power is strong enough to revolutionize
society. From this point of view we may and shall regard
as foes and stoutly antagonize powerful individuals who
oppose us. Never, however, could we entertain the notion
that the putting of such individuals violently out of the
way would result in a decided step forward for us. The
exact opposite would be the case. Reaction would gain
the upper hand. Such we see is the outcome of assassina-
tion in Italy, France, Belgium, Russia, and, by no means
last, in Germany.

Our capitalistic opponents should be the very last to
cherish indignation against the anarchists. The theory of
the preponderant influence over the course of history exer-
cised by powerful individuals in high position is wholly of
capitalist origin. The belief that putting a powerful indi-
vidual out of the way is a great event historically has de-
rived encouragement from no class more than from the
propertied one. The rule holds good from the days of the
ancient Greeks to our own. Harmodius and Aristogeiton,
who slew the tyrant Hipparchus 514 years before Christ,
are proclaimed to-day in the colleges as heroes and saviors
of the people. Let me also recall Marianna, the famous



168 AUGUST BEBEL

Jesuit, who stated the circumstances in which an individual
is justified in taking the life of a tyrant, as he styles a prince
who governs absolutely at his own will and pleasure. The
work in which these views are set forth is entitled "De
Rege et Regis Institutione," and was burnt in 1609 by order
of a Spanish court. The Jesuit regarded every prince who
proscribed the Catholic Church and its ministers as a tyrant.
And how does Schiller view the deed of Tell? And what
was this Tell the Tell of the poem? A murderer who
from a place of safety shot down Gessler, whom he looked
upon as the enemy of his country and the cause of his own
oppression. Gessler was a tyrant in the sense that all abso-
lute princes are tyrants in the eyes of the tax-paying prop-
ertied classes. I would mention, too, Schiller's poem
beginning with the lines :

"To Dionysius, tyrant lord,
Stole Damon with the hidden sword."

Not a line in this poem indicates that Schiller condemns
Damon for his course. On the contrary, he is praised for
his heroic courage and for the lofty motive of his conduct.

I have here a list of the assassinations perpetrated
during the last hundred years. This list does not purport
to be complete, and yet I am surprised at the number of
assassinations it records for the nineteenth century. Vio-
lence, moreover, was done to Henry III. of France, by a
Dominican monk in 1589, and to Henry IV. of France by
the teacher Ravaillac in 1610. Charles I. of England was
executed by order of the Long Parliament under Cromwell
in 1649. Pope Clement XIV. was poisoned, it seems, by
the Jesuits, whose order he had suppressed, in 1773. Louis
XV. of France was the object of an attempted murder by
Damien in 1757, as was Gustave III. of Sweden on the part
of Count Ankarstrom in 1792. An attempt was made on
Paul I. of Russia, as the result of a conspiracy of nobles, at
the head of which were Count Palen and a Herr von Ben-
nigsen. An effort by means of an infernal machine was
made to assassinate Napoleon I. while he was consul in
1809, by the German Stapss. The theological student
Ludwig Sand in 1819 tried to slay Kotzebue, a Russian
spy, in Mannheim. It is interesting to note here that



SOCIALISM AND ASSASSINATION 169

Sand's attack on Kotzebue was generally applauded by
German students and citizens. Indeed, a doctor of the-
ology at the University of Berlin, Professor de Wette, felt
called upon to write Sand's afflicted mother a letter of con-
dolence, in which he said, among other things: " The
opinion of the great majority may brand your son as a
criminal, and perhaps with some show of reason. As I
venture to form my own opinion on the subject, I am
prompted to make myself his advocate with you and shield
his name from censure, at least within the limits of his own
family."

The king was informed that De Wette had written this
letter, and he was at once deprived of his professorship.
He left Berlin after writing to the king that he had poor
health, was without wife or property, father of two young
children, "and bore all this burden uncrushed. " De Wette
afterward became a professor at Basel.

An attack was made upon the Duke of Berry by Lavel
in 1820. Seven attempts were made upon Louis Philippe
of France, among them that of Fiesclii, in which fourteen
persons were killed, including Marshal Mortier, in 1835.
An attempt was made to assassinate Frederick William IV.
by Tschech in 1845, an ^ by Sefeloge in 1850. Attempts
upon Francis Joseph of Austria occurred in 1849 an ^ l %$3>
upon Minister Count Rossi at Rome in 1848, Duke Charles
of Parma in 1854, Ferdinand III. of Naples in 1856, three
attempts upon Napoleon III. two in 1855, and the Orsini
attempt, in which 137 persons were killed or wounded, in
1858. Attempts were made upon William I. by Becker in
Baden-Baden in 1861, and by Hodel and Nobiling in 1878.
Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, was shot
by the actor Booth in 1865. General Prim was attacked in
1870. Prince Bismarck's assassination was attempted by
Cohen-Blind in 1866 and by Kullman in 1874. Five
attempts were made upon Alexander II. of Russia, one
ending fatally in 1881. Lord Cavendish, Viceroy of Ireland,
and Under-Secretary of State Burke were assassinated by
Fenians in Phoenix Park, Dublin, in 1882. An effort to
slay Isabella of Spain was made by a priest in 1856. Four
attempts were made upon Queen Victoria of England in
1840, 1842, 1872, and 1882, in connection with which it



170 AUGUST BEBEL

should be noted that not one of these attempts led to excep-
tional statute-making or to severer interpretation of the
common law. Attacks were made upon Prince Michael III.
of Servia in 1868, on King Humbert of Italy in 1878, on
President Garfield in 1881. An attempt was made on
Crispi in 1889. The Bulgarian minister, Beltschaff, was
murdered in mistake for Stambuloff in 1891. The murder
of Stambuloff himself was effected by Russian government
agents in 1895. Carnot, President of the French republic,
was attacked by Caseno in 1894. Canovas, the Spanish
premier, became a victim in 1897. The assassination of
the King of Greece was attempted in 1897. The murder
of the Empress of Austria by Luccheni occurred in 1898.

The many assassinations which have taken place in
Russia alone in the course of the past twenty years, the
political and royal murders that have happened in Turkey
and Persia, and finally the numerous political murders in
South American states I shall allude to only in general
terms.

The judgment of various classes of propertied citizens
upon Cohen-Blind's attempt on Bismarck in 1866 was most
characteristic. Thus Hopf, member of the Wurtemburg
Landtag, and later of the German Reichstag, wrote in the
"Gradaus": "So long as Germany numbers such youths
[as Cohen-Blind] among her sons, she is not poor." Marie
Kurz lauded Cohen-Blind for his deed in a poem. A
Munich comic paper showed the devil repelling the mur-
derer's revolver with the words: " Stop! He belongs to
me."

On December 8, 1856, the soldier Agesilaus Milano
made the attempt already mentioned to assassinate Ferdi-
nand II. of Naples, because of the bombardment of the
city ordered by the so-called King Bomba. The would-be
murderer was summarily executed. But when Garibaldi,
supported by Victor Emmanuel, drove the Bourbons out
of Naples in 1860, he issued a decree in which, as a mark of
honor to the dead man, the would-be murderer's mother
was given a pension of thirty ducats monthly, while his
sisters were granted a dowry of 2,000 ducats each. This
decree was respected in entire good faith by the Italian
monarch. Yet this monarchy, which pensioned the rela-



SOCIALISM AND ASSASSINATION 171

tives of an assassin, now dares to call an anti-anarchist
conference.

No class, no rank in society is exempt from the reproach
of having furnished assassins. But all the assassinations
have been absolutely without influence upon the progress
of events. Things took their course regardless of them.

What good was done by the general slaughter and the
tyrannicide of the French republic? Louis XVI. was cer-
tainly a blameless little man, yet he and Marie Antoinette
had to lay their heads upon the block charged with being
tyrants. Hundreds of nobles and priests followed them to
the guillotine. But all these murders and massacres could
not prevent the restoration of the monarchy. The priests
gained such power as they had scarcely ever wielded before.
One thing, however, the restored Bourbons, supported by
the bayonets of all Europe, could not change the new
social order brought about by the French Revolution,
partly by the division of the estates of the absconded
nobles and clergy among millions of the peasantry, and
partly by the great civil code that became the model of all
progressive states on the European continent. Thus it
was that feudalism went down. Thirteen years after the
restoration of the Bourbons they had to get out of France
again, never to return.

Change the social system from its foundations upward,
rear an appropriate political superstructure, and opponents
may be allowed to keep their heads on their shoulders in
peace.

It is beyond dispute that there are anarchists who
attempt assassination. Caserio's deed was a genuine an-
archist crime, as was the act of Luccheni. But this does
not preclude suspicion that people stood behind Luccheni,
made use of his simplicity, and urged him to his deed.
Reinsdorf, too, who made an attempt upon the assembled
German princes at the dedication of the Nederwald monu-
ment, was a genuine anarchist. That did not prevent the
police factotum, Weber Palm, from mixing himself up in
the proceedings and taking part in the preparations of the
conspirators. I may add that the assassination was to be
effected by means of self-acting dynamite that had been
previously tested in Elberfeld. There an attempt was



I?2 AUGUST BEBEL

made to blow up a restaurant, but it failed because the
dynamite was good for nothing. [Laughter.] In the
Nederwald the rain luckily put the fuse out.

Let us now consider the many occasions on which the
police have participated in assassinations and in attempted
assassinations during the past century. When Bismarck
was envoy at Frankfort-on-the-Main he wrote his wife :
" The police, for want of facts, lie and exaggerate wildly."

Police agents are hired to ferret out projected assas-
sinations. Doubtful characters are found among them
good ones do not accept such posts and the thought pre-
sents itself: since other people do not plot assassination,
we must supply the deficiency. If they cannot report that
something is going on they will appear superfluous, and
that, naturally, they do not want. So they mend matters,
to adopt a French proverb, by "correcting fortune." Or
they do a little political business on their own account. It
is only necessary to refer, in proof of this, to the memoirs
of the former police prefect in Paris, Andrieux. He con-
fesses cynically that he subsidized extreme anarchist organs
out of the police funds, and got up anarchist conspiracies,
merely to keep the capitalists in a suitable state of terror.
There was also the notorious London police inspector, Mel-
ville, who labored to the same purpose. This was de-
monstrated by the investigation into the so-called Walsall
crime. Even among the Fenian outrages several were of
police origin, as the Parnell case revealed.

The activities of the scoundrel Pourbaix in Belgium are
a matter of recent recollection. The minister of the crown,
Bernaard, was forced to admit in Parliament that Pourbaix
was paid to manufacture assassination conspiracies that
would seem to justify forcible measures against the social-
ists. The so-called Bomb-Baron von Ungern-Sternberg
was unmasked during the Luttich anarchist trial as a paid
agent of the police. Then there are our old friends of the
anti-socialist-law days. I could sing a pretty little song
about them, for I played a part at their unmasking. There
was, for instance, Schroder-Brennwald in Zurich, the fellow
who received two hundred marks a month from the police
commissioner, Kriiger, an allowance afterward raised to two
hundred and fifty marks a month. In every meeting in



SOCIALISM AND ASSASSINATION 1/3

Zurich this Schroder vociferated and advocated acts of vio-
lence. To prevent the Swiss authorities from expelling
him he became, presumably at Prussia's expense, a Swiss
citizen. Of course he may have saved his money for the
purpose. Schroder and the police anarchist, Kaufmann,
called a conference in Zurich in the summer of 1883, in
which thirteen persons took part. Schroder was in the
chair. At this conference murders in Vienna, Stuttgart,
and Strasburg were planned and subsequently carried out
by Stellmacher, Kammerer, and Kumitsch. I am not in-
formed that these unprincipled scoundrels told the police
such murders were contemplated. Stellmacher and Kam-
merer paid the penalty of their misdeeds on the gallows.
When Most was in prison in England Schroder had the
"Freiheit" printed himself. He certainly didn't pay the
bills out of his own pocket.

There were fine times in those days when Schroder and
the creature Haupt were exposed. Police-commissioner
Kriiger had written them that he knew the next assassina-
tion conspiracy would be directed against the Czar of
Russia from Geneva, and full reports must be sent in.
Were not these wonderful instructions?

Then there was Herr von Ehrenberg, the former artil-
lery captain. He was rightly suspected of having sold to
the Italians the secret of the Swiss fortifications of St.
Gothard. Investigation brought to light the fact that
Herr von Ehrenberg, too, was in the pay of the Prussian
police. He had prepared elaborate reports of the conver-
sations held by himself with our people, including me, it
appears. Only he had turned the talk about. Those vast
plans were matured and urged upon us and put into our
mouths by him, while he represented himself as the one
to whom they had been proposed by us. What might not
have happened had those reports fallen into certain hands,
and those whom they accused had been without witnesses
to prove the utter falsity of all they contained ! For in-
stance, he had tried to convince me although his report
made me the author of the proposition that it would be
the easiest thing in the world to put a certain mark on the
house doors of the higher military officials in all the leading
German towns, and then send our trustiest men to murder



174 AUGUST BEBEL

them in the night. He wrote a series of four able articles
for the Zurich "Arbeiterstimme, " in which he showed how
a modern street battle could be conducted, and what
arrangements ought to be made to dispose of the artillery
and cavalry. He also advocated taking up collections in
our meetings to buy weapons for our people. The moment
a war broke out with France, our comrades were to dash
out of Switzerland into Baden and Wurtemburg, tear up
the railway tracks, and smash the cars and stations. And
this fellow who urged all these things was in the pay of the
Prussian police !

Another creature in the pay of the police was the noto-
rious Friedemann who was driven out of Berlin, and who
incited our comrades to acts of violence by means of his
prose and verse, which he read at meetings in Zurich.
Near Basel a certain Weiss, supposed to be a tinker, was
arrested for distributing placards in which the deeds of
Kammerer and Stellmacher were praised. He, too, as was
proved in court, received pay from the German police.
One Schmidt, who had to leave Dresden on account of his
thefts, went to Zurich and established an assassination
fund, giving twenty francs himself as the first contribution.
He was another police tool. Then there was the secret-
service officer, Ihring-Mahlow, here in Berlin, who offered
to give instruction in the preparation of explosives, because
parliamentary methods were too slow !

What I am now telling you does not rest upon gossip
and rumor. It can all be proved at any time. After such
experiences as these have we not every reason to ask after
an assassination like that in Geneva : Who is behind it? To
be sure, Luccheni is an anarchist. But, like Hodel, he is
a man neglected from his youth, ruined and degraded by
the brutalizing conditions under which he was reared. Born
out of wedlock, he grew up at first in the foundling asylum,
and in later boyhood was utterly neglected. He had to
earn his bread from the time he was ten, now here, now
there. Thus he grew into the man who allowed himself to
be led into such a senseless murder as that of the Austrian
empress. But the question upon which, it is to be hoped,
light will be thrown at the coming trial in Geneva is: Did
he do it on his own responsibility or at the prompting of



SOCIALISM AND ASSASSINATION 175

others? In Geneva and throughout Switzerland, long be-
fore Luccheni committed his murder, Italian police spies
of the worst sort, like Santoro, Mantica, Benedicti, and
others, plied their traffic in the vilest ways and places.

In August of this year a number of strikes were in prog-
ress in Vienna, especially among the building trades. The
leaders, Italian socialists, tried to effect a peace between
the contending parties. They succeeded, but they were
banished in the most singular fashion for doing so. San-
toro and Mantica openly took a hand in these proceedings.
According to our Swiss comrades, the Italian consul-
general was used by them as a tool. They had the Italians
harassed by the police until the latter resolved upon their
banishment. But, strangely enough, the real instigators of
the strike remained unmolested, and yet they must have
been known to the police. Then came Luccheni's act, and
a light dawned upon the police. The wretches who had
been plying their calling in Geneva were studied with more
attention. Significant facts came out. The records of
some of them were dark with crimes previously committed
in Italy, but several of them were, notwithstanding, in the
pay of the Italian political police.

Is it strange, therefore, that our party organ in Berne,
the "Tagwacht," flatly asserted that Luccheni's crime was
an Italian police assassination? The paper was not called
to account for this statement. The record of these creatures
of the Italian police shows them capable of anything evil
and underhanded. Who, for instance, is Santoro? He was
a police commissioner in Florence once. Bomb throw-
ings became frequent in Italy in 1891. In Florence one
night the police arrested a suspicious-looking man who car-
ried something hidden under a cloak. The thing turned
out to be a bomb, but the cloak under which he carried the
bomb was Santoro's. The man in the cloak, De Angeli,
went to prison, but Santoro became, through Crispi,
director of the penal colony of Porto-Ercola. There he
maltreated the convicts so frightfully that a number of
them died. He robbed the prisoners of their food, and
appropriated the money sent to the poor wretches by their
relatives. When Santoro's infamous conduct came to light,
his only punishment was removal. Thereupon he served



AUGUST BEBEL

the radical deputy Cavalotti against Crispi, by betraying
the latter's misdeeds. The result was that Santoro was
brought up for his crimes and cruelties in Porto-Ercola and
punished with eight years in prison. But he found means
to get out, and went to Switzerland, once more in the serv-
ice of the Italian police.

Now for Mantica. He was expelled from the corps of
Italian military officers for some reason unknown to me.
He tried to bribe the jury in a lawsuit in Sicily, and in
February 1898 was sentenced to thirteen months in
prison. He got away, too, and like Santoro went to Swit-
zerland in the pay of the Italian police. He had intimate
relations with the Italian consul-general in Geneva, Basso,
who shortly after the Geneva assassination was transferred
to Corsica. Mantica went about in Geneva under assumed
names, lived in fine style, dabbled in journalism and
roguery, and was able to send word of the assassination to
Italy before anybody else had wind of it. His associates
were anarchists, whom he followed up assiduously, and
discredited socialists. The proceedings against Luccheni
should show whether the Italian police anarchists can fairly
be charged with being directly implicated in Luccheni's act.
But there is no more notion of enacting special laws in
Switzerland as a result of the Geneva assassination than
there is in England, and this shows the vast difference that
exists between a democratic country and Germany. In-
deed, Swiss official circles, as well as the people, are in-
censed against the Italian government, which sends rascals
of police agents into the country, and then has the assur-
ance to want to lay down administrative measures for
Switzerland.

The Italian police, too, were not without their share
of responsibility for the criminal developments recently
reported from Egypt.

If ever a conspiracy bore on its face evidence of police
implication, it is, apparently, the one lately unearthed in
Alexandria. It is significant that the first news of it came
from England. A box filled with bombs will have to be
found soon in an Italian boarding-house. I believe it will
soon be found, too. It was known long ago where it was.
[Laughter.] It was left with an Italian landlord named



SOCIALISM AND ASSASSINATION 177

Parrini, who, thinking it contained cognac, wanted to open
it with a hammer in the presence of the police. The police
organs say it was his evident intention to be blown into the
air. Oh, no! He may have wished, innocently enough, to
break open the box. But the others knew what was in it.
They had no evident intention to be blown into the air.
Only Italians seem to be mixed up in this conspiracy. How
fortunate! The Italian consul can do all the investigating
himself. Copies of the Neuchatel "Agitator" were found
on the prisoners, urging the assassination of King Hum-
bert. That shows lively imagination. Were it true, the
Berne federal council would not have banished the editor
of that paper. He could have been sentenced to a number
of years in prison, in accordance with the well-known Swiss
law against inciting to acts of violence.

So it is a case of petty humbug. But even were it all
true, what has Germany to do with what goes on down in
Alexandria, where gather the most dubious characters of
all Europe?

But assuming that Italians really were mixed up in the
affair, there would be nothing to wonder at in that. It is,
unfortunately, beyond dispute that many Italians are easily
incited to acts of violence. This accounts for the very
strong prejudice that exists in Switzerland against Italian
working men. The knife is too easily whipped out with
many of them. It is well known that an uprising against
the Italians took place in Zurich two years ago because
one of them stabbed a Swiss to death in a trivial dispute.
These and similar things happen repeatedly in Switzerland
week after week. Swiss prisons are for this reason filled



Online LibraryThomas B. (Thomas Brackett) ReedModern eloquence; (Volume 11) → online text (page 18 of 43)