The Utopian Communist: A Biography of Wilhelm Weitling

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into Magdeburg, as these horsemen of the steppes rode wildly
through the streets, singing their tribal songs to the accompani­
ment of the tambourine. They were followed by Russian infantry
and by the less impressive soldiers of the King of Prussia. The
Magdeburgers gathered in their old market place, heard an address
delivered in behalf of His Prussian Majesty, and then solemnly
raised their hands in a new oath of allegiance to their German king.
Caricatures of Napoleon promptly appeared in the windows, bon­
fires were lighted on the surrounding hills, and the bells of the
churches rang out in joyous celebration of the liberation of the
Fraternization between soldiers and citizens in an occupied area
is a common experience whenever the conquerors are quartered
on the conquered for any considerable period. Among the soldiers
who were billeted in the homes of the Magdeburgers during the
years of the French occupation was an attractive youth of twenty-
two or three, a noncommissioned officer or perhaps even a captain
in the French artillery, by the name of Guillaume Terijon. How
or when he met Christine Weitling, a simple maidservant and a
native of Gera in Thuringia, we do not know, nor how quickly
their relations developed into a love affair. But on October 5, 1808,
at 3:45 in the afternoon, the Thuringian girl gave birth, out of
wedlock, to a son whose father was the gay young blade of the
French artillery. The child was baptized, four days later, Wilhelm
Christian Weitling. The baptismal record in St. John's Church of
Magdeburg gives the full name of the mother as Christine Erd¬
muth Friedericke Weidlingen, and lists as witnesses to the cere­
mony Joachim Friedrich Kämpf and a journeyman stonemason
named Johann Weidling, who probably was the girl's father and
who was sometimes referred to in later years as Wilhelm Weit­
ling's stepfather. Weitling, however, always gave that title to
Christian Bern, a tailor who eventually married his mother.

Very little is known of Weitling's parents. The young French
officer seems to have been a gay and dashing soldier of fortune,
with a love for amateur theatricals. He often was seen striding

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