Pas de la dynamite, mais du tabac: L'enquete de 1885 contre les anarchistes en Suisse romande.

Author:Zurbrugg, A.W.
Position:Book review

Federico Ferretti & Patrick Minder, Pas de la dynamite, mais du tabac: L'enquete de 1885 contre les anarchistes en Suisse romande

Paris: Editions du Monde Libertaire, 2015; 168pp; ISBN 9782915514667

In 1885 a national investigation was ordered into the activities of anarchists in Switzerland. The greater part of this book consists of a dossier transcribing some eighty interrogations carried out in Francophone Switzerland.

In earlier times Switzerland had been a refuge for radicals (e.g. Mazzini and Bakunin) but this tradition was under increasing pressure. Tensions with neighbours increased in the 1880s. Anti-socialist laws had been passed in Germany after failed assassination attempts against the Kaiser. Kropotkin was compelled to move to France. (He and forty-six others were convicted in a trial in 1883). Austria-Hungary expelled some 200 anarchists. Switzerland then expelled some twenty anarchists and there were fears that it was co-operating with Germany and Austria-Hungary. On occasion foreign police operatives attempted to act as agents provocateurs (1) incriminating exiles. On 21 March 1885 a leaflet was distributed in Bern--an Appeal to Swiss workers--calling for them to unite and revolt, and saying that 'all means are good against tyrants'.

Letters announcing a plan to blow up the legislature in Bern (2) provoked the official investigation. Berdez, the judge who conducted it had a list of questions to address to suspects, e.g: What do you know of this bomb plot? Who was the author of the Bern leaflet? Are you involved with the distribution of Johann Most's Freiheit or Grave's Le Revolte? (3)

There are several well-known names among the persons interrogated. Jean-Louis Pindy is reported as saying that he was not politically active because he had family commitments. Adhemar Schwitzguebel said he had no subscriptions to the aforementioned papers and that the old organisations of the International had...

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