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Johann Philipp Palm is born on 18 December 1766, in the Palm family's pharmacy in Schorndorf. His father, Johann Leonhard Palm, is a surgeon; his mother Christina Elisabeth, née Muerdter, is a baker's daughter.
He attends the local Latin school and at 14 years of age, he departs to Erlangen to complete an apprenticeship as a book dealer with his uncle, Johann Jakob Palm. Later on, he resides in Goettingen and Frankfurt/Main.
Citizen, book dealer and publisher in Nuremberg
In 1796, Johann Philipp Palm becomes a citizen of Nuremberg and marries Anna Katharina Barbara, the daughter of a Nuremberg book dealer named Stein. After his father in law´s death, he becomes the sole owner of J. A. Stein's bookstore.
In 1806, large parts of Germany are occupied by the French under Napoleon Bonaparte. The general public faces social, political and economic hardship. Johann Philipp Palm prints and publishes the anonymously written pamphlet "Germany in its deep humiliation". It harshly criticises the Emperor´s imperial politics in the disguise of liberty as well as the collaboration of the German rulers with the military dictatorship for their own acquisition. The author calls for resistance against the occupying power.
Documents like this sell well in Germany in those times, and they provoke Napoleon's most intense anger. He puts the fact straight that he will not tolerate any criticism towards his person or his governing style: As the author is unknown, he gives orders that the pamphlet's distributors stand trial before a French military court and be executed within twenty-four hours of a guilty verdict.
Execution in Braunau am Inn
On 14 August 1806, Johann Philipp Palm is captured by French occupational troops and brought before a military court in Braunau am Inn/Austria. Without legal representation, Palm is left to his own defence. He knows well the pamphlet´s anonymous writer; but he does not, however, reveal his name. Until today, the author question has not been answered.
On 26 August 1806, Johann Philipp Palm, a citizen of a free city of the German Reich, in a time of peace, is found guilty by a French military court on Austrian ground in a mock trial. Within only three hours of the proceedings, he was executed.