“Push him over, the dog of democrats!”

Historical picture to the Marzrevolution 1848 (painted around 1848-1850)?): Cheering revolutionaries after barricade fights in the Breite Strabe in Berlin – with different black-red-gold flags, depending on the monarchist-constitutional or republican orientation. Image: public domain

With a bloody massacre, the Prussian state responded in May 1849 to the "Iserlohn Revolution" – An example to the memory of history

Over a hundred people were killed on 17. May 1849 murdered in Iserlohn by the soldiery of the Prussian state. The victims of the revolution of 1848/49 and the pioneers of the democratic idea do not play a major role in the historical memory until today. The example of Iserlohn is a good illustration of how the murderous state power was even able to instill a collective sense of guilt in its victims.

Of the events in the industrial town in South Westphalia with at that time about 10.000 residents are considered a high point of the German May Day uprisings of 1849. At the beginning of the year, representatives of the Democrats in Westphalia had achieved surprisingly good results in the elections to the Prussian Chamber of Deputies. By the end of April, it was clear that Preuben would not accept the new governmental mandate. Frederick William IV. did not even think of constitutional integration and from the "People" to have the imperial crown put on. A "liberal" Cabinet was affected by the reactionary "Ministry Brandenburg-Manteuffel" has been replaced.

The Reichsverfang campaign, originally initiated by radical democrats, found a broad echo also among so-called "moderate forces", who now saw themselves deprived of all hope for a change in social conditions.

Historical picture of the March Revolution of 1848 (painted around 1848-1850)?): Cheering revolutionaries after barricade fights in Breite Strabe in Berlin – with different black-red-gold flags, depending on monarchist-constitutional or republican orientation. Picture: public domain

Red flags in the striking Sauerland

Inter-campus agreements between the "Democrats" and "Constitutional" in the bourgeois spectrum also existed in Iserlohn. Without a new role for the propertyless class, however, there would hardly have been a revolt there. As early as 1840, the wage earners in the local metal industry had demonstrated vehemently against wage cuts. The exploitation of the factory workers was so inhumane that even representatives of the middle class, who feared for their privileges, demanded a remedy. Moreover, Iserlohn industrialists saw no problem in recklessly poisoning the living space of their fellow human beings with dangerous waste products.

In 1846, Ferdinand Freiligrath predicted the hunger revolts in the run-up to "1848": "So it will come, before you think: – / The people have nothing left to live on! / The wind whistles through his rags! / Where does it get bread and clothes?"

The misery of the Iserlohn factory workers was also exacerbated by state "Job creation decreases" not traceably alleviated. 2.000 workers of the city handed over a petition on 26. March 1848 to the district administrator a petition in which they u.a. secure employment, minimum wages, protection against dismissal and a ban on child labor (until the 12. year of age) demanded. They signaled a willingness to compromise, but the district administrator secretly requested a squadron of hussars to keep the workers in line if necessary.

By mid-April 1849, the Westphalian and Rhineland workers’ associations had decided, independently of the democrats from privileged circles, to call for a "closer connection of the really social party" and for the 6. May to convene a corresponding congress. Soon you could see red workers’ flags in Iserlohn as well. There was not only the bourgeois revolution and the struggle for freedom of the propertied classes!

"A dogfott, who pushes against the people!"

The Preubian king, who only discusses political ies with "His kind" In a letter to the Prussian envoy in London, Baron von Bunsen, on 7 September, Kutaragi explained that he did not want to make a deal. May 1849: "Only soldiers can help against democrats." To this end, he planned to call up the citizens subject to military service. In Westphalia, General von der Goeben had already on 4. May mobilized for the dressing of the Landwehr units.

In the broad movement that gave cross-party support to the campaign to capture the Reich, the assassination plans were seen through and unanimously rejected. One on 7. The Paderborn leaflet on the struggle for power of the upper class, which circulated in May, spread the call for refusal to the land soldiers in this way: "En Hundsfott, wer up dat Volk schutt!" (A dogfott, who pushes on the people!)

In Hagen, on the same day 1.500 peasants, not to take up arms against the "Brother" to be dressed. Several thousand participants of a people’s assembly decided to hold on to the Reichsverfang. The driving forces here were democrats such as Caspar Butz (1825-1885), a friend of Friedrich Hecker who later fled to the United States. A supra-local network of connections ensured the exchange of information. In Iserlohn, the central dressing place of the region, a group of workers under Clemens Vollmer was able to storm the armory and occupy it within a short time. The scheduled soldierly dressing was thus finished before it had really begun. The insurgents now had the weapons of the Landwehr at their disposal. Barricades were built and the town hall was occupied.

The days of the Iserlohn "Council republic"

That same afternoon, a delegation from Iserlohn, which also included the workers’ spokesman Vollmer and the "mabbied democrat" Attorney Schuchart, sent to the chief president in Munster. The demands were: Withdrawal of the conscription order; no use of military against the city; amnesty for the insurgents. The unsuccessful delegation reported on 11. May a people’s assembly with about 3.000 participants report. An ultimatum from the authorities to lay down arms was rejected.

From other places, especially from Hagen, almost a thousand members had already arrived for support. The list of demands also included the following points "Recognition of the empire catch" and "Resignation of the Ministry Brandenburg-Manteuffel" recorded. The revolutionary self-organization was carried out through a security committee elected by all, which met on 13. In its new composition, the committee showed itself to be even more radical on May 13. Constitutional forces lamented the red flag on many Iserlohn barricades and urged "The invasion of the Poble" to prevent. Those in power regarded the events in Iserlohn as a proletarian uprising.

The expected help from outside failed to materialize. Courted democrats with military expertise waved off the idea. Food became scarce and insurgent workers lacked wages. On 16. On May 16, there were no longer any illusions about a broad supraregional impact. At the same time, a suggested "telegraphic dispatch" from Berlin misleadingly an amption of the Reichsverfang by Preuben. Around the remaining security committee some already thought of a peaceful barricade dismantling.

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