Berlin Firemen in Trouble

Berlin Firemen in Trouble

The thousand and more men who form the fire brigade of Berlin are no longer allowed to be members of the Association of Berlin Firemen, an organization made up of both active and veteran firemen. This combination docs not enjoy the approbation of Herr von Jagow, the official to whom, under the eye of the German Emperor, is intrusted the duty of overseeing and regulating all police matters and everything that under the autocratic rule that obtains in Germany comes under, or can be supposed to come under police regulation. In Germany, as is generally the case all over continental Europe, all associations, civil, ecclesiastical, fraternal, secret or other, are constructively placed under the supervision of the police, and practically under their jurisdiction. Hence, the Berlin Fire Association comes under their purview. To this organization, however, not being made up of actual firemen, who, of course, form a part of the municipal service, and, therefore, conducts its operations under government officers, including the headsof the police of the capital, but also, of veteran firemen who, as such, are independent of the police, the autocratic police president strenuously objects as the veterans equally strenuously refuse to be under his thumb. Since, therefore, the board of directors of the firemen’s association, as a mixed board, may refuse to he dictated to by the police, and at any time may act more or less independently of that hody. Herr von Jagow has arbitrarily ordered the actual firemen of the city to withdraw as members, under pain of dismissal, with the result that the majority of them have complied with his order. At the same time, however, they attached to their resignations a remark to the effect that they had tendered them at the command of the chief of the fire department, thus indicating that they had simply obeyed the orders of their actual and immediate superior. The firemen do not intend to let the matter rest at this point, and the association will take steps in court to have the resignations annulled, on the ground that they were extorted by threats. They have unanimously decided to keep on paying their dues to the association, which is simply a mutual benevolent society in which politics has no place. Practically, therefore, although they have formally resigned under police compulsion, they look upon themselves as still attached to the organization.

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