William Morris. Commonweal 1888

Police Spies Exposed

Source: “Police Spies Exposed” Commonweal, Vol 4, No. 104, 7 January 1888, p.1-2;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.

There have always been found by the governments of all countries traitors ready to mingle in the ranks of every revolutionary party, including the Socialist, and by worming themselves into the confidence of the members, obtain their secrets to betray them, or by getting up dynamite plots and things of that kind, to arouse public feeling against the movement. Many other devices are there in the armoury of a tyrant, and in the days of the Third Empire they were carried, as men thought, to the utmost pitch of a devilish perfection. It has been left however for Bismark and his underlings to attain a yet higher (or lower) degree of skill and completeness of plan. Since the coming into effect of the anti-Socialist laws in Germany, 1879, police-spying, or the trade of head-monger and lie-smith, has become a recognized department of governmental work, an institution far more inwound with the existence of the State than even in the corruptest days of Napoleon the Little. Not only does Germany look after folk within her own borders, but provides them with careful friends in every city where Socialists are to be found; thus it is really an international political secret police that is maintained and worked from Berlin. Our well-known co-worker, the Sozialdemokrat of Zurich, has always been trying to get hold of the secrets of this organization, and has now and then succeeded in bringing facts to light, that spoiled some single plot, or exposed some spy. Of course it has had to bear the fate of the outspoken, and is often abused among a certain set as an organ of denunciation. Rather should it be praised for the courage with which it follows up a foe of the cause, and the skill with which it cuts open the disguise of a false friend, and shows the reptile underneath. Der Socialdemokrat deserves the thanks of all honest Socialists for its efforts in casting light upon a hideous host of vermin, and so depriving them of their power to betray. In its issue of December 24th is given a list of names of men who are now in the pay of police-bureau. We assure our the readers of the accuracy of the information.

The names are as follows:-

1. Herm. Heinr. Sacks, formerly lieutenant of the police at Berlin; author and professor. Police-spy in London (8 years in pay).

2. Charles Theodore Reuss, formerly theatrical impresario and concert-singer, now Bismark’s political agent on the Central News of London and the Cable News of New York; contributor to the Suddeutschen Presse at Munich and the Berliner Zeitung at Berlin. Police-spy in London (2 years and 6 months in pay).

3. Kaufmann (alias Carl Morff), engineer, now partner in the ‘City Club’. Police-spy in London (7 years in pay).

4. Heinrich, formerly engineer, now publican at Zurich.

5. Karl Schroder, insurance agent at Riesbach-Zurich (7 years standing).

6. Christian Haupt, agent at Geneva (8 years standing).

7. Max Trautner, formerly Bavarian officer, now journalist in Paris (previously at Brussels). Military and political police-spy (8 years standing).

8. Heinz. Oberwinder, formerly one of the leaders of the Austrian Socialist movement, now journalist in Paris.

9. H. Nonne, teacher, formerly in London, now in Paris (At Berlin, for the time being).

10. Ludw. Schweinhagen, at Magdeburg.

11. A. Wichmann, agent at Altona (8 years in pay).

12. Neumann, carpenter at Hamburg.

13. Herm. Nebel, bookseller at Leipzig.

We need not further warn our readers against these despicable creatures, but may profitably add a word or two on those employed in London. Sacks has been for some time away doing some special political business in the South of France and on the Spanish and Italian frontiers. In London he specially took care of the German Communist Club (First Section); at the time of Most’s arrest and conviction here he was a contributor to the Freiheit, and took away from the printing-office a lot of copy which had appeared in the paper; all of which duly reached the Berlin police. Reuss, among other things, caused the arrest of several Anarchists at Leipzig, Nürnberg, Augsburg and Berlin; was concerned in several so-called ‘Anarchist’ trials in Vienna; and with the aid of his accomplice, Joseph Peukert, carried out the infamous scheme by which our brave comrade, John Neve, was taken and condemned. In another line of business he has to work the press in order to manufacture ‘public opinion’ in favour of the extradition of political offenders and international repressive laws and treaties. During the late troubles in Trafalgar Square and Hyde Park, he was particularly active in this way. His blood-money is 450 marks a month (£22 10s.) It is interesting to know that he corresponds with his employer, Police-Councillor Krueger, Chief of German Secret Police, directly at Kaiserin Augusta Strasse, 72, Berlin, or indirectly through either M. Fumagalli, Court Jeweller, 138, Leipziger-strasse, Berlin, or M. Hacke, formerly Chief of Police at Frankfort, now Police Councillor at Berlin, 31, Kulmstrasse. Kaufmann (or Carl Morff), an Austrian ‘Anarchist’, it was who furnished, from means provided him by the police, to Stellmacher and Kammerer the money needed for the notorious attempts at Vienna. After the death of his victims he was expelled from Switzerland. Ordered to London by his master, he has lived here ever since. For a time secretary of the Third Section, he is now partner in the ‘City Club’, a well-known rendezvous of Socialists, both English and German.

We may have to return to this theme again, but have said enough for the present.