1848 Chapter 2: By Force to the Republic
The March on Karlsruhe: A Wake-Up Call for All of Germany?
Friedrich Hecker and his companions wanted to achieve German unity in a coup d’état – in a republic, without princes! But the majority of the Frankfurt pre-parliament abhorred violence as a means of politics.
Hecker, too, is first and foremost a parliamentarian, not a guerrilla. His plan sounds coherent: There is no military in the Lake Constance area at the time; thousands of unhappy Badeners, Hecker thinks, would join his march from village to village without a shot being fired. He believes that the initially small “Freischarenzug” will become a powerful and peaceful demonstration of freedom – with a signal effect to other German countries: a wake-up call for the all-German revolution.
The population admired Hecker’s courage, but both liberal and democratic members of parliament condemned the operatic, ultimately bloody enterprise: According to the critics, the violent uprising set off the military
reaction of the princes in the first place; the further parliamentary development toward German unity had been hampered as a result.
The 'Heckerzug': Through Snow Flurries to Defeat
Friedrich Hecker arrived in Constance on April 11th 1848. Lieutenant Franz Sigel, a former Baden officer, is already drilling the citizens‘ militia. Hecker calls for the „March on Karlsruhe.“ Sigel and others think more of the simultaneous proclamation of the republic in many places. Hecker gets his way, but only 53 craftsmen and workers heed his call. It was not until two days later that another 200 vigilantes followed suit. On their way via Donaueschingen in the direction of the Black Forest, the column grows to almost 6000 people ready to fight.
The decision is not made in Karlsruhe, but in the Black Forest, on the Scheideck near Kandern. Hessian and Baden troops under General Friedrich von Gagern have scouted out the route of the “Freischarenzug”, which consists of three columns. But the columns miss each other. Only 800 “Freischärler” torment themselves through new knee-high snow. Half frozen to death, they meet 2000 seasoned soldiers – and are defeated. General von Gagern is killed by a stray bullet at the beginning of the battle.
Friedrich Hecker and many others manage to escape to nearby Switzerland. In a last fight around Freiburg, the „badische Schilderhebung“ fails.
CHARACTER: Friedrich Hecker - Controversial Member of Parliament and Democrat
His most spectacular action was also his greatest defeat: the “Freischarenzug” to Karlsruhe. But after the failure, Friedrich Hecker became a legend, the „Baden Che Guevara“. As a member of parliament, the Mannheim lawyer has distinguished himself since 1840: He fights against the death penalty, demands educational opportunities and more democratic participation rights – however, Hecker categorically rejects women’s suffrage.
In the spring of 1848, he wants the immediate democratization of the whole of Germany! But 38 sovereign states and the military power of the German Confederation cannot be eliminated in a coup d’état. Moreover, what is to become of the individual states after the proclamation of a centralized republic?
In 1849, Hecker begins a new life in Illinois (U.S.) as a farmer and publicist. He campaigned for Abraham Lincoln and raised a German regiment at the beginning of the American Civil War in 1861. He welcomes German unification in 1871, but criticizes the authoritarian nature of the new empire. Hecker died in 1881. Numerous of his descendants still live in the U.S. today.
Barely ready to defend themselves: A Handful of Police Officers
Suppose someone in Constance called for an armed march on the state capital today and hundreds answered the call: Police headquarters would call for reinforcements, several hundred riot police would get into position, unlawfully armed disruptors would be arrested.
By contrast, in the spring of 1848, Constance had hardly any police force: the city police consisted of Constable Johann Moog and five „police servants.“ The state gendarmerie stationed a so-called „brigade“ in the former Peterhausen monastery: Rittmeister Ludwig Falkenstein, Oberwachtmeister Hoffart and ten gendarmes. Friedrich Hecker was counting on these conditions: „In a city without any significant forces of order, the signal for revolution must be given!”
Baden under Siege
After the failure of the “Heckerzug”, a state of siege is declared over the Baden communities and towns. Some 30,000 soldiers of the federal troops are quartered in private houses and barracks; they are to prevent any new uprisings.
At the end of April 1848, 1100 Bavarian soldiers with two cannons enter Constance. The editors of the „Seeblätter“, Franz Egneter and Nepomuk
Letour, are arrested and charged with lese majesty. Letour is sentenced to six years in prison.
All democratic associations are dissolved. A good two weeks before the National Assembly convenes in Frankfurt, the black-red-gold flag – the symbol of the freedom and unity movement – continues to fly on the building of the Seekreis government in the Rheingasse.
The Flight is followed by Treason Trials
The Baden judiciary opens 3500 high treason trials against participants of the “Freischarenzug” and local actors of the democracy movement. Many are sentenced to long prison terms. As court summonses flutter into homes, the escaped participants of the “Heckerzug” know they must remain in Switzerland. Wives take over the management of businesses. Money is collected for those in exile. More than 300 women appeal – but in vain – to the National Assembly to obtain an amnesty for the fugitives. The occupying forces did not leave until March 1849.
Constance Participants of the 'Freischarenzug'
Albert Sulger: The Fallen Man from Constance
The father of 23-year-old Albert Sulger is a cooper. The couple Felix and Christiana Sulger has seven children, the need is great. Albert learns the painter’s trade. In 1844, Sulger’s father asked the city for support so that Albert could attend the art academy, because he really wanted to become a painter. A self-portrait of Albert has been preserved. The young artist, who lived in depressed circumstances, was inspired by the prospect of better living conditions to participate in the “Heckerzug”.
When the “Freischaren” encountered Bavarian and Hessian troops near Kandern on April 20th 1848, Albert Sulger was mortally wounded during the battle.
Nepomuk Katzenmeyer: „Pardoned for Emigration“
The independent merchant is already 40 years old and married to Crescentia Rolle when he becomes a member of the „Armament Committee“ and the Citizens‘ Militia in 1848. Before that, as an elected member of the citizens‘ committee, he campaigned for the development of the Raueneck area (today Klein-Venedig) and initiated a lending institution that was intended to provide penniless citizens with shortterm cash.
His own business, at this time, is also struggling. He joins the “Heckerzug”. In the revolutionary year of 1849, he is a member of the local „security committee,“ issues arrest warrants and seizes an official treasury. In July he is imprisoned as a „political criminal,“ and in 1850 he is sentenced by the court to ten years in prison. Ten months later he is „pardoned for emigration“. In 1851, the impoverished Katzenmeyer family leaves Germany for the U.S..
Karl Zogelmann: Arms Buyer and Founder of a Foundation
Karl Zogelmann from Constance is a wealthy wholesaler of bed feathers. Social revolutionary furor is alien to him. But as a member of the town council since 1847, the liberal increasingly took offense at the backward- looking policies of Baden and the German Confederation. Social injustices outraged him, and he strongly advocated the admission of Jews to citizenship.
As captain of the 1st Fähnlein of the Bürgerwehr, he procures lead and powder in April 1848 and also participates in the “Heckerzug”. He then flees to Switzerland, returns in 1849, and again secretly purchases weapons and 8,000 flints. He briefly acts as an agent of the revolutionary government before escaping to Switzerland once again in July 1849.
In 1851, the Constance court sentences him to three years in prison and damage payments. It was not until 1857 that Zogelmann saw his hometown again and from then on was successful as an entrepreneur. He sets up charitable foundations: one for firemen injured in action, another
for loyal servants. Zogelmann dies in 1888 as a highly respected citizen of Constance. A street is named after him.
Thomas Sättele: With the Church Sword to the Revolution
A few days before the “Heckerzug”, the 40-year-old teacher and Wollmatinger mayor Thomas Sättele vigorously advocates the “Freischarenzug” in the circle of rural mayors in Constance and recruits participants. According to family legend, his wife hides his saber. He then borrows the iron sword of the wooden Paulus in the church of St. Martin, but then does not participate in the march, because his wife is pregnant with their 6th child. In May 1848, Sättele is briefly in custody as Wollmatinger „leader of the revolutionary party“.
The events of the third revolutionary wave in Baden free him. Again, the mayor stands up for the republic. After the revolution he loses his office, but is no longer prosecuted. In 1869 he is allowed to run again in Wollmatingen and is elected mayor again. Sättele dies in 1880 in his hometown.
An Opponent of the Revolution: Marie Ellenrieder welcomes the Occupiers
Marie Ellenrieder, a court painter from Baden, insists in her beautiful house in Constance that she has the right to be left alone by political events. To a friend, she writes of herself and her sister on March 19th 1848: „Pepi is well and we live in these troubled times quite quietly and faithfully to our holy church.“
Marie Ellenrieder’s political position is clear: Elimination of old feudal privileges, even democracy are not her concerns. For the past three decades, the nobility and the Catholic Church have been her main clients.
When Hessian occupying troops enter Constance in July 1849, the artist is satisfied that the „terrible turmoil of the time“ has now been „calmly overcome by the grace of God”. Marie and her sister Pepi joyfully welcome the occupiers, who are also quartered in their house: „Just now we are
eating with three friendly hussars: we consider them guests sent by the Savior.“