From the Feuilletons


From the Feuilletons

On June 2, 1967, the West Berlin police officer Karl-Heinz Kurras shot and killed leftist demonstrator Benno Ohnesorg. When the West German police and the Springer press closed ranks around him and he was acquitted in court, it triggered the German '68 movement against what was seen as West German fascism. Recently archivists at the Birthler Agency, the government office which oversees the Stasi files, happened upon Kurras's records and revealed that he was also a high-ranking Stasi spy and member of the East German Socialist Unity Party.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 23.05.2009

Stefan Aust, former editor-in-chief of der Spiegel sees the discovery as a "turning point in the way we view history – not only with regard to June 2nd and the student movement but also terrorism and the Stasi." He then goes on to ask "Did East Berlin have an interest in fomenting the conflict in West Berlin? (...) Was it looking on as terrorism spread in the Federal Republic or actively supporting it?" There is much to indicate that this may have been the case, writes Aust. Felicitas von Lovenberg interviews the author Uwe Timm, a close friend of Benno Ohnesorg, who was prompted by the shooting to join the German Communist Party (DKP) . He was speechless about the news.

Berliner Zeitung

For Wolfgang Kraushaar, a leading '68 historian, the discovery is a sensation. But, he asks, was Karl-Heinz Kurras acting on orders from East Germany? The obvious thing would be to appeal to Kurras, 42 years down the line, to talk about possible Stasi and Socialist Unity Party involvement as well as his own motives. Ohnesorg's widow is already dead but their son is alive. But this doesn't seem to be a realistic expectation. Kurras would have to face a retrial, because there is not statute of limitations on murder." Kurras has entirely refused to comment.

Die Tageszeitung 25.05.2009

Stefan Reinecke sees no reason to rewrite the history of '68 and the death of Benno Ohnesorg. "It would have been an embarrassment for the GDR. The German Communist Party (DKP), which was founded in 1968, would have had less pull for the splintering student movement. One thing is certain though, a hole would have been blown through the staunch support Karras received from the police, the justice system, the Senate and and Springer press. There might have even been a fair trial, in which the evidence didn't mysteriously disappear. But the idea that the history of the Federal Republic might have been otherwise, is just an stupid conservative fantasy. The bloody generational conflict was no invention of the Stasi, the profound hatred of the West Berliners for Rudi Dutschke was not staged by the GDR."

Die Zeit 28.05.2009

"The West must make the next move," declares historian Götz Aly, and calls for the German intelligence services and the Berlin police to throw open their files. Because Kurras' Stasi files show just how midguided everyone has been. "The files of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the Berlin police chiefs and the Federal Intelligence Service remain inaccessible as long as they are marked 'secret'. This case demonstrates how urgently they need to be opened. The president of the Federal Archive has long been calling for them to be opened as well as all files outside the 30-year closure period which have not recently been re-stamped 'secret'. But only a few weeks ago the Minister of the Interior Wolfgang Schäuble put at least a provisional halt to this procedure, which had finally been given the green light."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

The election race is on for the next Unesco director-general. First in the running is the Egyptian Cultural Minister and anti-Semite Faruk Hosni. Last Friday Elie Wiesel, Claude Lanzmann and Bernard-Henri Levy wrote an impassioned appeal in Le Monde (which the FAZ translated) to prevent Hosni winning. "Unesco has made a number of mistakes in the past but this one would be so enormous, repellent and incomprehensible, it would be such a manifest provocation and would run so contrary to the ideals of the organisation that Unesco would probably never recover. We don't have a minute to lose. We hereby call upon everyone to prevent Unesco from ending up in the hands of a man who, when he hears the word culture, answers by burning books."

Die Welt 26.05.2009

In interview with Peter Beddies, director Michael Haneke talks about his palme-winning film "The White Ribbon": "It was not supposed to be a political comment on the world today. Of course the prevalence of religious fanaticism and terrorism today give it an added topical dimension. I am not referring to Islamist terror, because obviously 'The White Ribbon' is about the roots of fascism. My transformation of an idea into an absolute, into an ideology, makes it inhumane and turns it against any one who doesn't toe the line. Its supporters then feel they have the authority to force the others to behave as they see fit. This goes for right and left-wing fascism alike, as well as for Christianity or other religions."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 27.05.2009

There have been too many skeletons in the closet for too long, and they are starting to break out," comments Sonja Margolina on Russia's new push, seventy years after the Hitler-Stalin pact, to prohibit any equation of National Socialism and Communism in the media or hsitory books. The Duma is about to vote on a law for the "prevention of the rehabilitation of Nazism, of Nazi criminals and their henchmen in the new independent states in the territory of the former Soviet Union". "Russia's blatant attempt to legally criminalise the historic experience of umpteen millions of Eastern Europeans, is a clear demonstration of the potency of Russia's delusions and the nationalistic corner that the Kremlin team has been working its way into for some time now. The draft law is Freud and Orwell rolled into one. Its definition of Nazi totalitarianism is a perfect definition of Communism. And it is meant to prohibit the falsification of official Soviet history which is a spectacular falsification itself."

Frankfurter Rundschau

French-Tunesian author Abdelwahab Meddeb protests against the systematic slaughter of pigs in Egypt, which has had a devastating impact on the country's large Christian Coptic minority - that constitutes one eighth of the population. Egypt would never have reacted so violently to bird flu: "The pigs have not been slaughtered out of concern for public health, after all there has not been a single case of type-A flu in the country. The disproportionate severity of the handling of pigs, compared with that of poultry, is the symptom of a phobia, a delusion. The resurgence of the pig hallucination is a clear indicator of the state of relations between Muslim society and the Christian minority." - let's talk european