Tuesday, April 23, 2019

General von Haynau and Donald Trump: London used to know how to deal with unwelcome visitors

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So Donald Trump has been invited to pay a state visit to Britain. There is a long history of unsavoury characters paying such visits and of good people protesting against them.

I hope there will be mass protests against Trump when he comes. Even I took to the streets last time he was here.

But the best way to deal with such visitors was demonstrated by the people of London back in 1850.

The Southwark News introduces us to General von Haynau:
Julius Jacob von Haynau was an Austrian general who, due to his brutal suppression of Hungarian forces during a revolution in 1849, earned the nicknames “the hangman”, “the hyena”, “the tiger” and “the butcher.” 
Contemporary commentators are also cutting in their reports. Historian Antoine Vanner describes him as a “bully and a tyrant” while historian Pete Brown, whose excellent book Shakespeare’s Local details Bankside’s history over six centuries, keeps it simple with “a murderous authoritarian bastard.” 
His penchant for punishment knew no limit. He whipped women, hung over 100 people and ordered vicious reprisal attacks during his campaign of terror. The brute was even infamous hundreds of miles away in Britain, where tales of his violence were covered in the papers and passed by word of mouth. From Buckingham Palace to Bankside, Haynau was discussed with both awe and disgust.
This murderous authoritarian bastard made the mistake of coming to London and visiting Barclay & Perkins' Anchor Brewery in Bankside:
A crowd quickly gathered as word of his appearance spread through the borough. Given his facial hair, he had attracted some attention on the way to the brewery and, by helpfully signing the visitor book on the way in, there was little doubt it was him.
A crowd, made up of local residents, workers and the brewery drayman, forced their way through the building to Haynau to boo and heckle him. 
An eyewitness said: “The gallant woman flogger looked about him in evident surprise, forgetting probably that he is now in a land which, with all its faults, bestows on its citizens the privilege of free thoughts and speech, and teaches them to denounce the tyrannies of a butcher like Haynau.” 
According to a separate eye witness, the scene then turned violent, with the brewery draymen deciding to stick the boot in in a more literal sense.

A report says: “Nearly all the labourers and draymen ran out with brooms and dirt, shouting out ‘Down with the Austrian butcher’ and other epithets of rather an alarming nature to the marshal.” 
A bale of hay was dropped on Haynau’s head before his clothes were ripped off by the furious crowd. He was flogged with brooms so hard that one of them broke across his back, while manure and dirt were thrown.
He first tried hiding in a dustbin and then found refuge in a pub, where the police turned up to rescue him.

So unpopular was von Haynau that the authorities did not dare to bring any charges over the affair.

Two further points.

There is a plaque commemorating these events in Park Street in Bankside. I shall photograph it for this blog.

And there are unconfirmed that, as the murderous authoritarian bastard was spirited away, the crowd was heard to chant:
"Haynau, Haynau: don't dream it's over."

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