Pictures of the Socialistic Future

Richter, Eugene
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Henry Wright, trans.
First Pub. Date
London: Swan Sonnenschein & Co., Ltd.
Pub. Date
Introduction by Thomas Mackay.
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Chapter XXXIII


THE iron-workers on strike have no intention of being starved out. Paying a visit to my father-in-law, I discovered on the way home that a number of these men were about attempting to storm the bread magazine. Grandfather is located at the Refuge for Elderly People, into which Bellevue Castle has been turned. The bread magazine is just opposite Bellevue Castle, on the other side of the Spree, and between the river and the railway embankment. Finding all the entrances well secured, the men on strike set about climbing over the high wall which surrounds the magazine. But as soon as any of them reached the top of the wall, they were picked off by the sentinels stationed inside, and had thus to pay for their temerity with their lives.


The men next took to the railway embankment, which commands a view of the grounds round the magazine. They commenced tearing up the rails, and cutting the telegraph wires, but the musketry-fire from the magazine in a short time killed and wounded so many that the besieging force was soon dislodged from this position.


Their next move was to make for the houses in Luneburg Street, behind the embankment. Having established themselves in the top storeys of those houses, a rattling fire soon began from the top windows on the one hand, and from the magazine on the other. But it soon became clear that the besieged, though small in point of number, were possessed both of better weapons and more ammunition.


Presently fresh detachments of the rioters attempted from Heligoland quay to make a breach in the walls surrounding the magazine. In the meantime, however, and quite unperceived, police reinforcements had been promptly brought up through the grounds of Bellevue Castle. These reinforcements took possession of the foot-bridge, which is almost concealed by the railway-bridge, and from this position opened a murderous fire upon the mass of mostly unarmed persons on Heligoland quay. Uttering wild cries of vengeance, and leaving great numbers of killed and wounded behind them, the mob dispersed in all directions. It is said that artillery has been sent for to cannonade Luneburg Street from the other side of the Spree.


Leaving this scene of carnage, I entered the Zoological Gardens with the intention of making for the south-west side of the city by a circuitous route. The streets in all directions were full of people in the wildest state of excitement. No outrages have so far been committed in the south-west portion of Berlin, but from what they say here it seems that the ironworkers have been more successful in their attacks on the bread stores in Temple Yard and in Kopenick Street than was the case with the Bellevue magazine. They say, too, that numerous rifles and stores of ammunition have fallen into their hands. It is very difficult to get hold of any really reliable news, but from all accounts the riot on the right side of the Spree seems to be getting rapidly general.


The police force has of late been fixed at 30,000 men. None but fanatical Socialists may serve, and these are chosen from all parts of the country. The force is also supported by strong detachments of artillery and cavalry. But they are dispersed all over the city, and what can they, after all, effect if the two million inhabitants really rise in a general revolt? The smokeless powder of nowadays greatly facilitates the taking of a true aim from an ambuscade, whilst the modern form of rifle is singularly calculated to prove serviceable to those indoors when used under cover of the houses.


Detachments of police, some on foot and some mounted, are continually hurrying with all possible speed towards the centre of the city. From all appearance the whole of the armed force available is being drawn together in the neighbourhood of the palace and unter den Linden. What will be the end of it all?


And poor old grandfather? I found him very dull and apathetic. In the entire absence of a family circle and of surroundings to call forth his interest, his faculties show a very marked decay. He told me the same things several times over, and repeatedly put the same questions to me which I had just before answered. He even mixed up the persons and generations of his own family. A cheerless old age indeed!

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