Liestal, Georg Herwegh (1817-1875). Photo/Bild: TES.

A Forgotten Revolutionary

Switzerland has been a refuge for political refugees for centuries. Even today, this small country welcomes many refugees. After the Napoleonic Wars, it was no different. The Ancien Régime, also in Switzerland, wanted to restore the situation from before the French Revolution (1789).

However, it was no longer possible to turn back to the old situation, and in Switzerland, too, this led to tense relations in and between the cantons. The neighbouring German states were stable neither.

The Holy Roman Empire was dissolved by Napoleon in 1806, and the Kingdom of Prussia was the big winner with many areas awarded by the Congress of Vienna (1814-1815), particularly on the right bank of the Rhine. The Ancien Régime was successfully restored. In the south of Germany, it remained turbulent, however.

The poet-revolutionary Georg Herwegh (Stuttgart 1817- Liestal 1875) found his last resting place in 1875 in the liberal canton Basel-Landschaft.   In 1836, he got into trouble in his homeland the kingdom of Württemberg because of his actions.

In 1839 he fled to Switzerland and he became a citizen of the canton Basel-Landschaft in 1843. In Württemberg he was no longer welcome, also King Wilhelm IV of Prussia expelled him from Prussia.

In February 1848 he joined the revolution in Paris to travel immediately afterwards to the revolt in the Grand Duchy of Baden in the same year. He then retreated to the Eidgenossenschaft. In 1875, he died in deep poverty and was buried in Liestal following his last will in “free republican earth”.