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"National Property" (March 18, 1848)

On March 18, 1848, a crowd formed in the square in front of Frederick William IV’s palace on Unter den Linden. Although the citizens had gathered to cheer the king for conceding to another United Landtag (State Parliament), underlying discontent with the aristocratic Prussian military and its support of the monarchy led to a confrontation between civilians and soldiers. When some members of the crowd began to chant “Away with the military,” Frederick William IV ordered troops to clear the square. After two seemingly unplanned shots were fired by the soldiers, any good will the crowd had been feeling toward the Prussian king evaporated. Barricades were swiftly erected in the streets of Berlin, and fighting between soldiers and civilians ensued, lasting well into the night of March 19. This image shows citizens writing the words "National Eigenthum" (“National Property”) on the king’s palace. Ironically, this action may have saved the palace from being plundered by rioters.

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© Bildarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz