1848 Chapter 6: Overthrow in Baden
Struggle for the Imperial Constitution - Popular Associations Mobilize
After the ”Heckerzug” and the Struve putsch, the Baden government shows itself willing to reform. Even Grand Duke Leopold I cuts his personal expenses. The government does not intervene when 400 new democratic „people’s associations“ and citizens‘ militias are formed under the organizational leadership of the finance official Amand Goegg. Newspapers such as the „Seeblätter“ and the „Mannheimer Abendzeitung“ raise the political awareness of broader sections of the population.
After the adoption of the Imperial Constitution in the National Assembly, Baden becomes the first state to agree, with 28 others following. But Prussia, Bavaria, Saxony and Hanover refuse to agree. Constitutional liberals and democrats see themselves cheated of the hard-won constitutional work.
At the end of April 1849, the Bavarian Rhine Palatinate rises up in favor of the constitution. In Saxony, early socialist revolutionaries led by the Russian ex-officer Michael Bakunin revolt. On May 4th, the Saxon king flees. Already on May 9th Prussian troops prevail over the revolution. There are
brutal attacks. Under this impression, the army in Baden also mutinies: the third Baden Revolution begins.
In the winter of 1848, Amand Goegg, a 28-year-old customs assistant from Renchen, calls for the founding of democratic people’s associations throughout the state. The central „Landesausschuss“ coordinates the 35,000 members of the associations. Unlike Friedrich Hecker and his impulsive comrades-in-arms, Goegg is a sober planner. He studied administrative sciences and worked at the Grand Ducal Property Administration in Constance before moving to the Ministry of Finance.
Cleverly, Goegg dovetailes the new citizen militias with the army. After the military revolt and the flight of the grand duke on May 14th 1849, he becomes finance minister of the revolutionary government. During the defensive battles against the Prussians, Goegg bravely holds out with the soldiers at the front.
On July 12th 1849, he manages, at the last moment, to escape from Constance into Switzerland. In exile, he becomes involved in the first International Workers‘ Association, in competition with Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. His wife Marie Pouchoulin is one of the first Swiss women’s rights activists. In 1897, Goegg dies at the age of 77 in his hometown of Renchen.
Johann Philipp Becker: The Organizer of the Baden People's Army
Born in the Palatinate, Becker showed the courage to be rebellious at an early age: as a youth, he sang the Marseillaise when the sovereign visited his hometown of Frankental. At the Hambach Festival, Becker appears as a speaker and is imprisoned. With his wife and children, the master brush maker moves to Switzerland, where he becomes a partner in a cigar factory.
He takes part in the Swiss Sonderbund War on the side of the liberal cantons. When he hears of Friedrich Hecker’s “Freischarenzug” in 1848, he
rushes its aid with his Swiss Legion. The canton of Bern later expels him. At the beginning of the Baden Revolution in 1849, Becker organizes the People’s Army, which in the endnumbers 25,000 men. He courageously leads his troops against the Prussian invaders.
In subsequent exile in Geneva, Becker is involved in the Workers‘ International (IAA), friends with Karl Marx and briefly fights in the Italian unification process under Giuseppe Garibaldi. As a publicist, he gains notoriety for his advocacy of gender equality. In 1886, the former commander-in-chief of the Baden revolutionary troops dies in Geneva.
Marie Goegg-Pouchoulin: Pioneer of Women's Suffrage
At the end of the 1840s, Marie’s Geneva home took in revolutionary refugees from several countries. Among them in 1849 is the escaped Amand Goegg, the finance minister of the Baden revolutionary government. In Baden the death penalty awaited him. Marie Pouchoulin and Amand marry. She accompanies her husband on several stages of exile.
Through Amand, Marie comes into contact with pacifist groups and the emerging workers‘ movement. Together with other women, she founds the first international women’s movement, the „Association internationale des femmes,“ in 1868. A year later, she founds the first feminist magazine in Switzerland.
Marie resolutely advocates women’s suffrage: „We demand the right to vote because all real progress has come about through the exercise of this right,“ she writes. With the help of a petition to the Swiss Federal Council, she achieves that in 1872 the first women are admitted to study at the University of Geneva. Marie Goegg-Pouchoulin dies in Geneva in 1899.
The Military Mutiny: The Baden Revolution of 1849
Delegates of the Baden People’s Associations meet in Offenburg on May 12th 1849. Demands are made for the release of political prisoners. In the federal fortress of Rastatt, the garrison mutinies because soldiers are being
held under arrest. Garrisons in Karlsruhe, Mannheim, Freiburg, Bruchsal and Lörrach join in.
On May 14th, Grand Duke Leopold I flees Karlsruhe for the Prussian fortress of Ehrenbreitenstein near Coblence. The „Landesausschuss der Volksvereine“ now moves into Karlsruhe and forms a government: in Baden, the revolution has briefly triumphed. Head of government Lorenz Brentano avoids the proclamation of the republic, even has the radical instigators around Gustav Struve arrested.
Revolution-tested volunteer units from all over Europe rush to Baden to extend the started revolution to all of Germany. Conservative rural and urban citizens now fear revolutionary chaos. Their passive resistance undermines the revolution. Brentano and the moderate forces hope in vain for the continuation of the constitutional reform process. Troops of the German Confederation under Prussian leadership end the revolutionary experiment in Baden.
Lorenz Brentano: Revolutionary Head of Government against his Will
Lorenz Brentano, a 36-year-old Mannheim lawyer and Baden member of parliament, becomes head of government against his will in May 1849. In the years before, he fought for judicial reform in the state parliament and, after the first wave of the revolution in 1848, defended some of the actors in court with great skill. The Baden government refuses to approve his election as mayor of Mannheim in 1849.
After the flight of Grand Duke Leopold I in May 1849, a power vacuum arises. The new constituent assembly in Karlsruhe appoints the reluctant Brentano to head the provisional revolutionary government. After six weeks in office, he is deposed by the radical wing of the revolution and flees to Switzerland, and from there to the United States.
After years as a farmer, Brentano moves with his family to Chicago in 1859, where he becomes editor, alderman and finally co-owner of the German- language „Illinois Staats-Zeitung“. In 1869, the family move to Zurich, and Brentano becomes U.S. consul in Dresden. Back in the U.S., the 63-year-
old is elected to Congress for the Republican Party. Brentano dies in Chicago in 1891.
No Fighting at Lake Constance: The Lake District in the Shadow of the Events of 1849
In the spring of 1849, the popular associations in the Seekreis also discuss the new imperial constitution and the rejection of the imperial crown by Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm IV. Popular speakers such as the Kluften pastor Ullmann explain the major events to the skeptical rural population in Linzgau, Hegau and Höri. In Constance, conservatives and democrats are irreconcilably opposed to each other.
The newly established citizens‘ militia drills, and in June 1849 a “Freischarenkompanie” moves out of the city. But as the new Baden revolutionary government drafts more and more recruits to fight the advancing Prussians, resistance arises: revolutionary enthusiasm has waned. The citizens‘ militias from the Seekreis do not take part in the fighting in northern Baden. On July 11th 1849, the people of Constance watch as 2,000 defeated revolutionary soldiers flee across the Swiss border with Finance Minister Amand Goegg.
Waghäusel, Rastatt: The Military Failure of the Revolution
Many soldiers in the Baden army are concerned with remedying grievances, not with establishing the republic. The recently formed „People’s Army“ is poorly organized. It is not until the new commander-in- chief of the Palatine-Baden army, Franz Sigel, and the recruited Polish freedom fighter Ludwik Mieroslawski that the 30,000-soldier Baden revolutionary army is formed into a fighting unit. German exiles from Paris, Poles, Italians, Hungarians and Swiss are recruited for the fight for freedom.
70,000 federal troops march into the Palatinate on June 12th 1849. The revolutionary military forces want to attack the enemy offensively, but the head of government Brentano hesitates. Battle after battle is lost. At
Waghäusel, the revolutionary army suffers its greatest defeat. The Polish commander-in-chief Mieroslawski falls into disrepute, the revolutionary troops rail against „the foreigners“.
A large part of the revolutionary army flees across the border to France and Switzerland. About 6000 men are trapped in the federal fortress of Rastatt on June 30th 1849. The Prussians bombard the civilian population and the fortress with incendiary bombs. When the situation is hopeless, the freedom fighters surrender to the Prussians on July 23rd 1849, „at their mercy and disgrace“.
Wilhelm of Prussia: The 'Carthage Prince'
The March Revolution of 1848 in Berlin is perceived by the then 51-year- old Prussian Crown Prince Wilhelm as a fundamental threat. A career officer, he belongs to the anti-liberal military party at the Prussian court. He thinks nothing of parliamentarism and constitutional monarchy. The Berlin journalist Max Dortu calls Prince Wilhelm the „Cartridge Prince“ because of his alleged demand to shoot at insurgents with cluster munitions from cannons.
In June 1849, Crown Prince Wilhelm takes over the supreme command and has the uprisings in the Palatinate and Baden bloodily put down. After the Franco-Prussian War, the German Empire is autocratically unified, and King Wilhelm is proclaimed „German Emperor“ in Versailles in 1871. Emperor Wilhelm I’s wife Augusta is more liberal; thus, Wilhelm I’s attitude toward constitutional monarchy gradually changes as well.
The new German Empire is ruled by the Reich Chancellor and Prussian Prime Minister Otto von Bismarck. While Wilhelm I and Bismarck are concerned with keeping the peace in foreign policy, they persecut Social Democracy and political Catholicism as „subversive parties“ at home. In 1878, the „Socialist Law“ bans all Social Democratic associations and writings. Emperor Wilhelm I dies at the age of 91 in Berlin in 1888.
Ludwik Mieroslawski: Revolutionary and 'Polish Napoleon'
Born in France in 1814 to a French mother, Mieroslawski was inspired by the Poles‘ struggle for freedom against the Russian occupation. At the age of 16, he took part in the November 1830 uprising against Russia. In Paris, where he lives, Ludwik Mieroslawski becomes a member of the Central Committee of Polish Emigrants.
In 1846 he is again present when the Poles in the Prussian Grand Duchy of Posen rise up against foreign rule. Mieroslawski is sentenced to death, then pardoned to life imprisonment. Freed by revolutionaries in April 1848, he fights and is later expelled from Prussia to France.
In 1849 Mieroslawski moves against the Bourbons in Sicily, and in June the Baden revolutionary government asks him to assume supreme command of the troops. Tactically skilful, Mieroslawski succeeds in halting the Prussian advance. But after several defeats, the Badeners mutiny against the „Polish Napoleon“. Mieroslawski resigns as commander-in-chief. He fights for Giuseppe Garibaldi in the Italian War of Independence in 1861. In 1878 Mieroslawski dies impoverished. He is buried in the Cimetière Montparnasse in Paris.