Émile Henry 1894

Émile Henry’s Indictment

Source: Ravachol et les anarchistes, Jean Maitron, Paris, Julliard, 1964 ;
Translated: for marxists.org by Mitchell Abidor.

The accused was born in Spain where his parents took refuge after the events of 1871, in which they'd taken an active part.

In 1882, after the amnesty, his parents returned to France.

He received a complete education, presented for the entrance examination for the École Polytechnique, but failed the second part of the test. He then entered the shop of a construction engineer, who sent him to Venice to work on a public works project for which he was the contractor. Barely three months later he left a job that could have been a career.

When he returned to Paris he found himself at a commercial establishment that paid him 125 francs per month. At that time he became, to use his own words, a determined anarchist. The superiority of his education led him to acquire in a very short time a certain notoriety among the “companions.” On May 31, 1892, following the first anarchist attacks, he was arrested but was soon set free.

Shortly afterward his boss, who saw him making propaganda among his comrades, decided to fire him. After his departure he [the boss] found in his [Henry’s] desk manuscripts relating to the fabrication of explosives and a manual called “Practical Anarchism” that began with these words: “We ask the companions to execute these works.”

After having collaborated for a time at the offices of L'Endehors the accused worked as a clerk at the home of the sculptor-decorator Dupuis.

Two days after the explosion on the Rue des Bons-Enfants he disappeared. Despite this striking coincidence he denies having participated in this attack: “I was then in England,” he said, “fearing I'd be arrested again.”

His trail is lost from that time until last December 20. On that date he presented himself at the Villa Faucheur, Rue des Envierges, and rented a room under the name Louis Dubois.

There he obtained the materials needed for the making of explosive devices, notably picric acid, and busied himself with preparing a bomb.

In a small metal kettle, whose handle he removed, as well as the button on the cover, he placed a cylindrical zinc envelope.

Between this envelope and the flared wall of the kettle he placed, he declared, 121 pellets.

Inside the zinc cylinder he placed another, smaller, one, filling the space between them with an explosive substance.

Finally, in the smallest one he placed a dynamite cartridge with a primer made of fulminate of mercury. Against this primer he placed a miner’s fuse calculated to burn fifteen seconds.

On February 2, he left his room after having warned the guardian of the villa that he wouldn’t be home for a few days. According to his declaration he left three and a half kilos of picric acid there. He carried his bomb, following Vaillant’s example, in his belt.

He had a loaded revolver whose cartridges he'd chewed in order, he said, to do more harm, and a dagger whose blade he'd sought to poison.

Armed in this way he headed toward the Avenue de l'Opéra, took a look at the Bignon Restaurant, then the Café Américain, then the Café de la Paix, but he didn’t find a sufficient number of victims in any of them and continued on his way.

At the Café Terminus, where he arrived at about eight thirty, the crowd was especially dense around a platform where an orchestra was playing.

He entered, sat down at a table near the door, and asked for a beer, which he paid for in advance.

He soon had a second one served along with a cigar, which he also paid for as soon as they were brought. He waited for the crowd to grow larger.

At nine, he approached his lit cigar to the end of the fuse, got up, and reached the door, which was only a short distance away.

He then turned around and threw the bomb in the direction of the orchestra.

The device struck the electric lights, broke one of the crystal tulips, and fell to the ground, spreading a thick and acrid smoke.

A few seconds later, it exploded with a muffled detonation, caving in the floor and wounding seventeen people.

The assassin fled, shouting, “Oh the wretch, where is he?”

He was immediately pursued by the waiter Tissier and by two customers who'd seen him throw the device.

The guardian of the peace Poisson, who was stationed in the guardhouse across from the café, also ran after him.

At the corner of the Rue de Havre and the Rue d'Isly, an employee of the Compagnie de l'Ouest, M. Etienne, caught up with him and put his hand on his shoulder saying, “I have you, you scoundrel!” “Not yet,” answered the accused, who shot him in the chest.

Fortunately the ball flattened against a button and didn’t penetrate, but Etienne fell in a faint.

M. Maurice, a coiffeur, then grabbed him a little further away. A second shot threw him to the ground, giving him a serious wound.

The agent Poisson then arrived. The accused aimed at him but missed and he continued along his route. Poisson drew his saber and continued his pursuit. He had almost caught up with him when a shot hit him in the chest. He remained standing and raised his arms in order to strike, and the accused fired the two last shots of his revolver. One of the balls struck his right side and the other was lost in the policeman’s wallet.

The latter jumped on the accused and they fell to the ground together.

Other agents arrived at the moment Poisson lost consciousness. They took hold of Henry, whom they had to protect against the anger of the crowd.

During the course of his questioning Henry, who had at first taken the false name of Breton, showed no regret for the series of criminal acts.

On the contrary, in front of one of his victims, M. Etienne, he expressed regret at having used a defective revolver as well as for having decreased the explosive force of his bomb by poorly attaching the cover of the kettle.

The expert brought in by the investigating magistrate declared that the device thrown by Henry was “combined and constructed in a manner to kill upon falling in the midst of a crowd and to partially destroy the building in which it would be thrown.”

Like all anarchists, he declared that he acted under the influence of a purely personal resolution.

Nevertheless, if the investigation didn’t establish any act of legal complicity, it showed that other anarchists knew his plans.

In fact, on the morning of February 14, the guardian of the Villa Faucheur remarked that the door of Henry’s room had been broken open.

The police superintendent, called to the room, discovered a miner’s fuse, lead balls, and a quantity of green powder. Burned papers were found in the stove.

According to Henry’s declarations, he had left in his lodging three and a half kilos of picric acid, which were to serve him in making twelve or fifteen other bombs if, as he had counted on, he had escaped justice after the first explosion.

It is thus obvious that the authors of the break-in intended to remove the rest of the explosive substances he'd prepared.