Storming government buildings through the ages

Monitoring Desk

A painting shows men shooting at a building

1789: Storming the Bastille

A Paris mob intoxicated by ideas of liberty and equality in the face of authoritarian monarchical rule sparked the French Revolution when they stormed a medieval fortress that also held freedom-loving political prisoners. The Bastille fell to the righteous mob on July 14, 1789, and such a people’s coup against tyranny has long been celebrated with a public holiday in France.   

men holding and pointing guns, most wearing thick wool hats

1917: Insurrection in the Winter Palace

Russia’s October Revolution began when the Bolsheviks stormed the Winter Palace, where a provisional government was seated. Having overthrown the Russian Tsar in February, the Bolshevik uprising also known as Red October capped the revolution when it succeeded in overwhelming the seat of government in the capital Saint Petersburg.

people walk in front of a burnt out palace

1958: Iraqi military putsch

In July 1958, a mob pillaged and burned the palace of King Faisal in Baghdad in Iraq and overthrew the monarchy as part of a broader military putsch to install a new republican regime. Faisal and his closest associates were killed in the revolt, with the former being publicly mutilated.

soldiers instigate a military coup in Chile

1973: Military coup in Chile

Democratically elected President Salvatore Allende had been in office for three years when he was ousted in a savage military coup. Heavily armed soldiers stormed the presidential palace on September 11, 1973. Allende committed suicide and General Augusto Pinochet’s brutal military dictatorship began.

men in suits standing in a hall

1981: Attempted coup in Spain

On February 23, 1981, Lieutenant-Governor Antonio Tejero Molina entered the Spanish Parliament with 200 military police and soldiers and held the democratically-elected congresspeople hostage for some 18 hours. King Juan Carlos intervened and insisted on a stable transition to democracy after the end of the Franco regime. The coup was thwarted and Molina subsequently served 15 years in prison.

a mob with flags are stopped by police from entering a building

Insurrection at the Reichstag

The Reichstag or German parliament was burned to the ground in 1933 and has long been a site for insurrection, including last August when a mob protesting coronavirus protection measures tried to storm the building until police pushed them back. Like at the US Capitol, many of the protesters were aligned with the far right, included members of the extremist Reichsbürger nationalist group.

US flag-waving mob

Invading the US Capitol

After demonstrators gathered in Washington D.C. for a “stop the steal” rally near the cordoned-off Capitol, hundreds of angry Trump supporters set off for the building, egged on by the president’s baseless claims of a stolen election. The police stationed at the Congress were apparently unprepared to deal with the violent protesters who easily broke through cordons and stormed the building.

Courtesy: DW