Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Maximilian Dortu

Dortu mausoleum at the old Wiehre cemetery
Today, as every year, I commemorated Maximilian Dortu at the old Wiehre cemetery where in the early hours of July 31, 1849, he was executed by a Prussian firing squad. This year it was cabaret artist Matthias Deutschmann addressing a rather big crowd in Dortu's honor compared to the usually smaller number of loyal participants.

Dortu's parents' house on Dortustraße in Potsdam.  Destroyed during the war
the former GDR had the building restored in its original state for propaganda reasons.
It served and still serves as a primary school.
I took this and the following photo during my recent visit to Potsdam.
Born in 1826, Max was the only son of a wealthy Huguenot family in Potsdam. He is not well known in Germany except in his birthplace - where a street upon which his parents' house once stood is named after him - and in Freiburg where he died in 1849. His entry in the English Wikipedia is just a stub.

Commemorative plaque on Dortu's parents' house
Young Dortu was one of the martyrs of the German Revolution of 1848/49. Following the Napoleonic wars, at the Congress of Vienna, the German states were restored into barely reformed monarchies. The aim of the revolution that started in Germany in March 1848 was to establish a republic in a unified Germany. Right from the start, the revolutionary forces had to fight both the rulers clinging to their territories and a satisfied bourgeoisie preferring constitutional monarchies to a republic. This double opposition was too much and soon governmental forces crushed the uprisings except in Germany's southwest where people like Dortu hung on. Ultimately a strong Prussian intervention force headed by the "Grape-Shot Prince" (Kartätschenprinz) Wilhelm was needed to defeat the revolutionary movement in Baden.

Dortu coined the nickname Kartätschenprinz for Wilhelm who used this lethal weapon during the March 1848 uprisings against the people of Berlin. This is the same guy who in 1871 became Kaiser Wilhelm upon Germany's unification into the Second Reich.

Being sought for acts of sabotage Dortu fled Prussia and subsequently joined the still active revolutionary movement in Baden in 1849. He even rose to the rank of Major in the revolutionary army at the age of 23. When the Prussian intervention army eventually got hold of him in Freiburg they charged him with high treason and sentenced him to death. In the early hours of July 31, 1849, he died at the Wiehre cemetery in front of a firing squad.

Brothers, aim well!
I die full of joy and courage for I fought for the liberation of the nation.

Red Baron was there in his red Madison revolutionary T-shirt.
A good friend of mine, organizer of the yearly commemoration, took the picture.

1 comment:

  1. I met up with 2 of the Wisconsin 14, I also had a gift of a Rockford Sock Monkey symbolizing the City of Rockford, Illinois where they held out. Interesting Blog, Thanks