1892: Berlin’s Prefect of Police on the Socialist Movement


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BERLIN — I learn that the appointment of Baron von Richthoffen, the Prefet of Police, or, as he is called here, the “Polizei-President,” to the post of Minister of the Interior is imminent.

The Baron, who is much respected for his resolute and independent character, is strongly backed by the Conservatives. Only the other day I had a talk with Baron von Richthoffen. He is a handsome elderly gentleman, of heroic stature and bluff manner, and he received me in his office on the first floor of the stately Polizei-Praesidium building in the Alexan­der Platz. “I have come several thousand miles, Herr President,” said I, “to find out the truth about the Socialistic movement in Germany. Will you kindly answer a few questions?”

“Let me hear them,” said the Baron. “Firstly, then. Do you foresee any immediate danger, or any danger in the near future, from the Socialistic and Anarchistic movements?” “I do not. We regard them as insignificant. We anticipate no serious outbreak, though, in a great city like Berlin, some small disorders here and there are always possible.”

“Next, do you think that there is any connection between the German Anarchists and the German Socialist-Democrats?” “If you mean any avowed or organized connection—no. But that some of the Anarchists are Social-Democrats, and that some of the Socialist-Democrats are Anarchists, I believe. These gentlemen are one thing one day and another thing the next, as suits them. I feel confident, however, that the Socialist-Democratic leaders have not countenanced or ordered any violence. They would be afraid.” “What importance do you attach to the supposed international organization of the Socialists?” “There is no formal organization of the kind yet, so far as I know. The Socialists in Germany and elsewhere are at present merely bound together by their common hopes and sympathies. But their tendency is towards an international action, the organization of general strikes, and so on. This is one of the gravest perils of the movement.” “Then you feel confident of being able to cope with the Socialists, even after those riots?” “What riots?” said the Baron. “Oh, I suppose you mean those little affairs Unter den Linden and in the Schloss Platz. I should like to speak more fully about them.” — The New York Herald, European Edition, May 3, 1892



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