Viennese high treason trial 1870

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The Viennese high treason trial began on July 4, 1870 in the Vienna Regional Court under strict security precautions. The process was directed against fourteen worker functionaries and leaders of the Social Democratic Workers' Party , among them Heinrich Oberwinder , Johann Most , Andreas Scheu , Pope and Perrin.

The reason for the negotiation was a protest rally held by the Gumpendorfer Arbeiterbildungsverein on December 13, 1869 in front of the Reichsrat building, which attracted around 20,000 participants. It aimed at political and union rights of the workers. As a result, the responsible organizers of the event were arrested on charges of high treason and charged with their "state-endangering" attitudes.

Despite a lack of evidence, judgments were passed by the court on July 19, 1870. Heinrich Oberwinder, one of the pioneers of the German labor movement , was sentenced to 6 months in prison. The top stewards of the organized labor force were sentenced to six years in prison.

After this process, the authorities dissolved most of the workers' education associations, the majority of which only existed for a few months. Most of them did not come into being until April 7, 1870, when the government lifted the ban on coalitions (prohibition on the union of workers from 1864) for fear of a dangerous revolutionary development. The new law allowed trade unions from then on. Associations, however, remained banned. In spite of everything, the state authorities tried by all means to fight the unions and to keep their influence low.

The closings in 1870 sparked new protests and riots lasting several days, prompting the government to pass a new coalition law. The convicts were subsequently given amnesty.

Twice in modern Austrian history, the state has tried to put an end to the socialist movement, which has been forced into illegality, through high treason trials against the party leadership: in 1870 in the Vienna high treason trial and in 1936 in the great socialist trial . Both times the authorities were almost completely informed about the activities of the party leadership through traitors and informers and were able to arrest almost all leading figures.

These official persecutions, like the high treason trial in 1870, were not able to prevent the movement from developing.


  • Heinrich Scheu (Ed.): The High Treason Proceß against Oberwinder, Andr. Scheu, Most, Papst, Hecker, Perrin, Schönfelder, Berka, Schäftner, Pfeiffer, Dorsch, Eichinger, Gehrke and Baudisch, before the Imperial and Royal Regional Courts in Vienna, started on July 4, 1870 .
  • Frank Harreck-Haase: The Agitator - The Life of Johann Most, Volume 1 - The Socialist , Chemnitz 2017, ISBN 978-3-00-056998-2 .

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