21 May 1894 – Emile Henry

Emile HenryA Frenchman lost his head in pursuit of pure anarchy today in 1894.

Emile Henry went to guillotine after he planted a bomb in a station, which killed one person and injured 20 more.

Café de Paris

Henry headed to Saint Lazare station where he lobbed an incendiary device into a packed coffee shop. His actions were said to be in revenge for a mate, who’d been found guilty and decapitated for bombing a government building, despite not actually killing anyone. Even the public had spoken out against such a harsh punishment, but resentful Henry had a more fundamental point to make.

For his was a belief in anarchy, purely and simply. His band of activists wholeheartedly believed that the smallest trigger would mobilise the proletariat to rise up against the Bourgeoisie, whom he loathed and detested.

Frog’s scorn

At trial, when asked why he had targeted innocent people, Henry stated simply ‘there are no innocent Bourgeois’.

Indeed, he stoically went on to say, ‘We mete out death and we must face it. For that reason I await your verdict with indifference. …our dead are many, but you have not been able to destroy anarchy: its roots go deep’.

And with that, Henry joined the many dead, after he was found guilty and sentenced to be beheaded, aged about 22. But the ‘Propaganda of the Deed’ which had so inspired him was to continue and it claimed countless political people’s lives.

Also on this day

21 May 1636 – Abraham Clegg

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