July 20th, 2013 Headsman
Two centuries ago today, Johann Christian Claudius Devaranne got himself shot for resisting Napoleon’s draft in Germany.
The Corsican had fallen back following the debacle of occupying Moscow, but the attempts of Napoleon-allied forces to recoup dwindling numbers by conscription provoked fierce resistance in Solingen — where the draft board was driven out and recruiting materials destroyed.
This little flare-up goes by the excellent title of the “Russian Truncheon Insurgency,” but it soon ran into the bayonets of Napoleon’s German partners. On January 30, 1813, a week after draft riots first erupted, troops began suppressing it. Devaranne, a 29-year-old father of five, was seen as a leader in the resistance and a price put out on his head … a price his own maid collected when the fugitive innkeeper was reckless enough to sleep at home one night.
He was tried and shot at Dusseldorf months later, during a lull in the year’s bloody campaign season.
For the 120th anniversary of Devaranne’s execution — which was also six months into Adolf Hitler’s Chancellorship — Solingen dedicated a memorial plaque to Devaranne, claiming his nationalist martyrdom as its own.
“It is no accident that precisely the Third Reich celebrates the memory of this hero. The same spirit which animated Devaranne, animates our SA as well,” said the city’s Lord Mayor. (There was an SA honor guard on hand for the occasion.) “Then as now, we revolt against repression, then against the Corsican, today the SA’s revolution against the Marxists. We need the memory of our heroes to redirect us to their spirit in dark hours.”
The plaque went missing after the war, but Devaranne still has a street named after him in Solingen.
Also on this date
- 1934: Not Walter Lett, To Kill a Mockingbird inspiration
- 1780: John Gamble, anti-Wilmot
- 1301: False Margaret, Norwegian pretender
- 1898: Choe Si-hyeong, Donghak leader
- 1998: David Wilson
- 1889: "Cattle Kate" Ella Watson lynched
- 1514: György Dózsa, Transylvanian Braveheart