Assassination attempt on Wilhelm I (1861)

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Assassination attempt on Wilhelm I
On 14 July 1861 the first assassination attempt on King Wilhelm I von Preußen was commited in the Lichtentaler Allee. The king was only injured slightly.

Date 14 July 1861

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On 14 July 1861 the first assassination attempt on King Wilhelm I von Preußen was commited in the Lichtentaler Allee. The would-be assassin Oskar Becker fired two shots at the king, but injured him only slightly.

Assassination attempt and consequences[edit]

The assassination attempt occured on 14 July 1861 only some month after Wilhelm's accession to the throne. The king had come to Baden-Baden to take a cure and did one of his regular morning walks in the Lichtentaler Allee. As often, he walked alone at first but then met by chance the Prussian ambassador, Count Flemming, who accompanied him on his way. The two had gone about 150 m[1] from the bridge Kettenbrücke and the Hirtenhäuschen towards the Monastery Lichtenthal, when a young man overhauled them, pulled of his hat and greeted friendly. Shortly thereafter, the man stopped and let King Wilhelm I and Count Flemming pass him. Then two shots were fired. The king turned around and saw the young man standing three steps behind him. The count shouted: "Who fired? Did you shoot?" The 22 years old Oskar Becker answered: "I fired, at the king!" People around came running and helped to arrest Oskar Becker. He had fired the two shots with a Terzerol, a small muzzleloader.

In a claim of responsibility he carried with him, Oskar Becker explained his motive:

"Baden, 13 July 1861. The motive, why I will shoot his majesty the king of Prussia is that he can't achieve the unity of Germany [...]. Therefore he must die. One will try to stultify me because of the crime and think that I am extreme. But I have to commit the crime, to make the German fatherland happy. Oskar Becker, law student from Leipzig."

One of the two bullets had missed the king, the other one had grazed his neck stock. He was doctored at the Hirtenhäuschen at the border of the Klosterwiese. However the slight bruise on the neck turned out to be harmless. The king continued his walk and met his wife at the Monastery Lichtenthal. Together with her he returned to the hotel Maison Messmer.

In the evening the citizens of Baden-Baden celebrated the lucky outcome of the assassination attempt with a torchlight procession.

Oskar Becker was sentenced to workhouse for 20 years by a jury court. In 1866 he was pardoned after the intercession of King Wilhelm I.


  • Rolf Gustav Haebler Geschichte der Stadt und des Kurortes Baden-Baden 2. Band, Verlag Dr. Willy Schmidt Baden-Baden, 1969

Individual Evidences:

  1. Stadtführer Baden-Baden des Arbeitskreises für Stadtgeschichte Baden-Baden 1994 S.166