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The Prussian Army and Domestic Unrest (April 30, 1907)

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With this measure, the right to exercise power with unlimited authority in all administrative affairs with respect to the police and the courts is simultaneously transferred to the military leader charged with the supreme command and the restoration of order. The police are then subject to his command, and, on account of their knowledge of the local geography and population, they are in a position to render especially important service. [ . . . ]

Simultaneous to the pronouncement of the state of siege, the first measures to be taken are the suppression of all publications encouraging rebellious tendencies and the arrest of their editors, in addition to the general arrest of all persons known as leaders or agitators, paying no heed to the immunity of members of parliament. [ . . . ]

All meetings will be outlawed, and all attempts to break the law must be nipped in the bud right at the beginning of any rebellious movements. [ . . . ]

Under no circumstances should commanders at any level enter into negotiations with the insurgents; there is only one condition: “Unconditional Surrender.” Portions of the city that have been restored to order should be carefully searched. Those taken into custody should be removed immediately, that is, if they are not brought before a court-marital on the spot.

All the ringleaders and anyone who is caught with a weapon will face a death sentence. The full severity of the law is to be applied without mercy.

Source: Aus dem geheimen Erlaß des Kommandierenden Generals des VII. Armeekorps Moritz Ferdinand Freiherr von Bissing über das Verhalten der Truppen "bei inneren Unruhen"] [From the classified decree of the commanding general of the VII. Battalion Baron Moritz Ferdinand von Bissing on the conduct of troops in instances of “domestic unrest”] (April 30, 1907), in Dieter Fricke, "Zur Rolle des Militarismus nach innen in Deutschland vor dem ersten Weltkrieg" [“Concerning the Role of Domestic Militarism in Germany before the First World War”] in Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaft, vol. 6 (1958), pp. 1302ff.

Original German text reprinted in Willibald Gutsche, Herrschaftsmethoden des deutschen Imperialismus 1897/8 bis 1917 [The Ruling Methods of German Imperialism, 1897/8 to 1917]. East Berlin, 1977, pp. 115-16.

Translation: Richard Pettit

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