26 August 2016

Johan Phillip Palm, A Martyr For Liberty

An excerpt from the Napoleon Series website explained why it wasn't a good idea to cross Napoleon in 1806:

Johann Phillip Palm...an obscure bookseller from Nuremberg, was executed in the early afternoon of 26 August 1806.  He was shot by a French firing squad in a field outside of the town of Braunau, an Austrian town garrisoned by the French.  A single pistol shot to the head finished him off.  Palm had been arrested 12 days earlier and charged with publishing and distributing libelous pamphlets about France and Napoleon.  A military court had tried Palm on 25 August 1806 and found him guilty.

The author of the blog Archaeolibris, who referred to Johan Palm as "a martyr for the German struggle for liberty," posted that it was a Dangerous Times For A Bookseller (and pointed towards the illustration of the execution of John Palm).

A chapter from this book explained Palm's situation in greater detail:

During the sixteen days since he had been in jail, he had only twice been taken out of it to be examined by the court-martial, which General St. Hilaire had specially convoked for his trial.

This court-martial consisted of French generals and staff-officers; it met at a time of peace in a German city, and declared its competence to try a German citizen who had committed no other crime than to circulate a pamphlet, in which the misfortunes of Germany, and the oppressions of German states by Napoleon and his armies, had been commented upon.

[Palm] felt convinced that his defence [at the court martial] had been successful, and satisfied the men who had assumed to be his judges, of his entire innocence.

He greeted them [members of the court martial] with an unclouded brow and frank and open bearing; not a tinge of fear and nervousness was to be seen in his features; he fixed his large and lustrous eyes on the lips of General St. Hilaire who presided over the court-martial and now rose from his seat. The secretary of the court immediately approached the general and handed him a paper.

The general took it, and, bending a stern glance on Palm, said: "The court-martial has agreed to-day unanimously on your sentence. I will now communicate it to you."

Palm had returned to his cell without uttering a complaint, a reproach. Nothing in his bearing betrayed his profound grief, his intense indignation. He knew that neither his complaints nor his reproaches were able to change his fate, and consequently he wanted to bear it like a man.

View a statue of Johan Phillip Palm (Jim's distant cousin) in Bert's Travels blog.

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