Concerning the Arrest of the Members of the Central Committee of the Social-Democratic Workers' Party

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On September 9, 1870, Bracke, Bonhorst, Spier, Kühn and Gralle, members of the Brunswick Committee of the German Social-Democratic Workers’ Party, as well as Ehlers, a member of the Party, and Sievers, a printer, were arrested for publishing the Manifesto on war (see Note 125). By this measure, the ruling circles tried to undermine the workers’ movement and to prevent any actions against the Prussian government’s militarist plans. Having received news of the arrest of the Brunswick Committee from Wilhelm Liebknecht, Marx took immediate steps to give publicity to this act of tyranny on the part of the German authorities, the first in a series of open police persecutions of Social-Democrats there. The information was sent to The Pall Mall Gazette and The Echo, where it was published on September 15, and to a number of other newspapers. On September 20, 1870, at a meeting of the General Council, Marx made a report on the arrest of the members of the Brunswick Committee, stressing that there were absolutely no legal grounds for it. In October 1871, after many months of imprisonment, the members of the Brunswick Committee were brought to trial on the trumped-up charge of disturbing peace. One of the main charges was their membership of the international workers’ organisation—the International, which was banned by Prussian laws. The court sentenced the members of the Brunswick Committee to various terms of imprisonment. Despite repressive police measures, the Social-Democratic Workers’ Party, led by August Bebel and Wilhelm Liebknecht, started propaganda work against Prussia’s predatory plans and for an honourable peace with France.

The Central Committee of the German section of the “International Workmen’s Association” resident at Brunswick issued on the 5th inst. a manifesto to the German working class, calling upon them to prevent the annexation of Alsace and Lorraine, and to bring about an honourable peace with the French Republic.[1] Not only has their manifesto been confiscated by the order of the commanding-general, Vogel von Falckenstein, but all the members of the committee, even the unfortunate printer of the document, were arrested and chained like common felons, and sent to Lötzen, in Eastern Prussia.

  1. ↑ Manifest des Ausschusses der sozial-demokratischen Arbeiterpartei. An alle deutschen Arbeiter! Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel, 5. Sept. 1870”, Der Volksstaat, No. 73, September 11, 1870.— Ed.