February 12th, 1894 – Anarchist Bombs Paris


Émile Henry was a French anarchist, who on February 12th, 1894 detonated a bomb at the Café Terminus in the Parisian Gare Saint-Lazare killing one person and wounding twenty.

Attentat_de_l'hôtel_TerminusThough his activity in the Anarchist movement was limited, he garnered much attention as a result of his crimes and of his age. He was also seen as one of the first people of a growing group of revolutionaries (largely anarchist) who subscribed to the doctrine of the “Propaganda of the deed“, which would later take the life of many governmental figures.

Henry had grown up in a liberal aristocratic environment. His father who was a communard (or early French communist) was exiled for some time for his beliefs. His brother was another key person in the French anarchistic circles. Accepted to the prestigious École Polytechnique, Emile had been expelled and found work in a draper’s shop.

Henry, who was furious over the execution of another anarchist, Auguste Vaillant, for a bomb attack on the French Chamber of Deputies on December 9th, 1893 which injured 20 deputies, took it upon himself to strike back to avenge Vaillant’s death. (Vaillant’s motive for the attack was the political corruption that was rife within the French Third Republic)


Émile Henry (September 26th, 1872, Barcelona – May 21st, 1894, Paris, France)

He saw the café as a representation of the bourgeoisie itself and his intent was to kill as many people as possible in the bombing. When brought to trial for these acts, he was asked by the courts why he had needlessly harmed so many innocent people, to which he replied, “…there are no innocent bourgeois.” This was not Henry’s first terrorist act; already on November 8th, 1892, he had placed a time bomb at the offices of the Carmaux Mining Company, which had exploded when the police removed it, killing five officers in the commissariat on the rue des Bons-enfants. Indeed, after his arrest for the Terminus bombing, Henry took credit for a series of other bombings in Paris, and in his apartment was found material to make many more explosive devices.

Henry was executed by guillotine on May 21st, 1894. His last words were reputed to be “Courage, camarades! Vive l’anarchie!

“Today in History” on The Pandora Society dot com is primarily focused on Victorian and Edwardian history and does not always have a direct connection to Steampunk, Dieselpunk, or whatever punk; in fact it rarely does, but it is our hope that in sharing these historical events they might serve as some inspiration to the writers in our community to create potential alternative history stories which we look forward to reading 🙂


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