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Berlin, Storming of the Armory

Berlin, Storming of the Armory The occupation of Prussia's central armory in Berlin was carried out by revolu tionary workers and craftsmen on June 14, 1848, with the aim of forcing the general arming of the population. The storm on the armory was the culmination of the popular movement in Berlin after the March revolution. The call for arming the people had already been partially fulfilled with the creation of the militia, mostly consisting of prosperous burghers. Workers and poor craftsmen, who were largely excluded from the militia, demanded vigorously that they would be armed so that they could defend the ac hievement of the March revolution. The fear that the revolution was in jeopardy was nourished by the refusal of the majority in the Berlin assembly (Berliner Versammlung) to agree on a constitution for Prussia in order to expressly recognize the achievements of the March revolutionaries. Crowds of people, who had rallied in front of the deputies' conference building when hearing the results of the vote, were initially dispersed by the militia. On the evening of June 14th a company of the mil itia shot at a group of workers who were demanding arms and the withdrawal of the military garrison from the armory. Two persons were killed and several injured. As a result, the outraged crowd began to build barricades. Armament shops were ransacked; red flags and the call for the establishment of a republic heralded the aspirations of people to continue the revolution beyond what had been achieved in March. Around 8 p.m. the crowd had managed to make its way into the armory, forcing its garrison (thre e officers and some 150 soldiers) to retreat and thereby to gain access to arms from the armory's weapons. The storming of the armory was a spontaneous act. Without leaders with clear objectives, the workers and craftsmen gave up their resistance when the armory was re-conquered by the military and the militia the same night. Several people who allegedly had instigated the uprising were prosecuted, among them the machine worker Sigrist who earlier fought on the barricades on March 18, and senten ced to i mprisonment in a fortress.

Captain von Natzmer, who had yielded to the pressure of the insurgents and vacated the armory in his capacity as the commander of the garrison, was also sentenced to detention in a fortress. As an immediate reaction to the storming of the armory several hundred prosperous families left Berlin. The government reinforced its military presence in the city and established a special garrison for protection, the Konstablerkorps. The Neue Rheinische Zeitung called the events in Berlin on June 14 "the first storm clouds" of a second revolution.

Helmut Bleiber

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Krista Durchik revised this file ( on April 8, 1998.

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© 1998 James Chastain.