How will it be to belong to a nation, to work in the spiritual tradition of a nation that never knew how to become a nation, under whose desperate, megalomaniac efforts to become a nation the world has had to suffer so much! To be a German author—what will that be? Back of every sentence that we construct in our language stands a broken, a spiritually burnt-out people . . . a people that can never show its face again.
—THOMAS MANN, “The Tragedy of Germany,” 1946
IT WILL NEVER BE completely comprehensible to other peoples what it was like to be German and born in the late 1940s, the concentration camps closed, the guilty scattered, the dead vanished. The twenty-first-century public drama of Gerhard Schröder, born in 1944, elected chancellor of Germany in 1998, is a story of his generation. He never knew his father, who died in the war before he was born. How his father died or who he was remained a mystery. While in office as chancellor, Schröder found a faded photograph of his father as a German soldier but could learn little else about him. The possibilities were frightening.
After World War II, when there were not two but four Germanies—the American, British, French, and Russian sectors—the policy in all four sectors was what the Americans called “de-Nazification,” a purge of high and low Nazi officials from all responsible positions and war crime trials for all ranking Nazis.
In 1947 the United States launched its Marshall Plan to rebuild European economies. The Russians declined to participate and soon there were two Germanies and two Europes and the cold war had begun. In 1949 the United States established its own Germany, West Germany, with a capital in Bonn, a city as far as possible from the East. The Soviets responded with an East Germany whose capital was in the divided old capital of Berlin. By July 1950, when the cold war had become a shooting war in Korea, de-Nazification was quietly dropped in West Germany. Nazis, after all, had always been reliable anticommunists. But in East Germany, the purge continued.
There had always been a north and south Germany, Protestants in the north and Catholics in the south, with different foods and different accents. But there had never been an East and West Germany. The new 858-mile border had neither cultural nor historic logic. Those in the west were told they were free, whereas the easterners were oppressed by communism. Those in the east were told that they were part of a new experimental country that was to break with the nightmarish past and build a completely new Germany. They were told that the west was a Nazi state that made no effort to purge its disgraceful past.
Indeed, in 1950 West Germany, with U.S. and Allied approval, declared an amnesty for low-level Nazis. In East Germany, 85 percent of judges, prosecutors, and lawyers were disbarred for Nazi pasts, and most of these resumed their legal profession in West Germany by qualifying for the amnesty. In East Germany, schools, railroads, and post offices had been purged of Nazis. These Germans also were able to continue their careers in West Germany.
To many in both the east and west it was the Globke affair that crystallized how things were to be in the new West German Republic. In 1953 Chancellor Konrad Adenauer chose for state secretary of the Chancellory a man named Hans Globke. Globke was not an obscure Nazi. He had written the legal argument supporting the Nuremberg laws that stripped German Jews of their rights. He had suggested forcing all Jews to carry either the name Sarah or Israel for easy identification. The East Germans protested Globke’s presence in the West German government. But Adenauer insisted that Globke had done nothing wrong, and he remained in German government until he retired to Switzerland in 1963.
In 1968 Nazis were still being discovered.
Edda Göring was in court trying to keep possession of the sixteenth-century painting by Lucas Cranach, Madonna and Child. It was of sentimental value since it had been given to her at her christening by her now deceased father, Hermann Göring. Göring, who had stolen the painting from the city of Cologne, had been founder and head of the Gestapo and the leading defendant at the showcase of de-Nazification, the Nuremburg trials. He killed himself hours before the scheduled time of his execution. The city had been trying to get the painting back ever since. Though Edda Göring had lost in court yet again in January 1968, her lawyers predicted at least two more rounds of appeals.
At the same time, evidence surfaced, actually resurfaced, that Heinrich Lübke, the seventy-three-year-old president of West Germany, had helped to build concentration camps. The East Germans had made the accusations two years earlier, but their documents had been dismissed as false. Now Stern, the West German magazine, had hired an American handwriting expert who said that the Lübke signatures by the head of state and the Lübke signatures on concentration camp plans were made by the same hand.
By 1968 questioning a high official on wartime activities was not new, except that now it was on television. The French magazine Paris Match wrote, “When you are 72 years old, and at the summit of your political career, the highest ranking person of state, and you are shown on television in front of 20 million viewers in the role of the accused, that is the worst.”
In February two students were expelled from the university in Bonn for breaking into the rector’s office and writing on the honor roll next to Lübke’s name “Concentration Camp Builder.” Following their expulsions, a petition signed by twenty of the two hundred Bonn professors demanded that Lübke address the issue publicly. The German president met with the chancellor, the head of government and the more powerful position in the German system. Chancellor Kurt Georg Kiesinger reviewed different options with the president, ruling out retirement or resignation. A few days later the president went on television denying the charges but saying, “Naturally, after nearly a quarter of a century has gone by, I cannot remember every paper I signed.” It took more than ten months before he was finally forced to resign.
Chancellor Kiesinger, who had worked for the government of the Third Reich, had his own problems in 1968. He was called as a witness to the war crimes trial of Fritz Gebhard Von Hahn, accused of complicity in the murder of thirty thousand Greek and Bulgarian Jews in 1942 and 1943. From almost the moment the chancellor took the stand, it appeared that he himself was on trial. The defense had called him to explain that while he was serving in the Foreign Ministry, news on the deportation and killing of Jews was not passed on by his radio-monitoring department. But first he had to explain why he had a position in the Foreign Ministry. He said it was “a coincidence,” but he did admit having been a Nazi Party member. He explained that he had joined the party in 1933, “but not out of conviction or opportunism.” For most of the war, he said, he had thought Jews were being deported to “munitions factories or places like that.” Then did the radio department pass on news about the fate of deported Jews? “What information?” was Kiesinger’s response. He denied knowing anything about killing Jews.
The Kiesinger government had come to power two years earlier in a reasonably successful attempt at a compromise coalition that offered political stability. But it was then that the student movement became most visible. A new generation had been angered and worried by the end of de-Nazification and the decision to remilitarize West Germany. The universities had become crowded owing to a policy, first established by the Allies, of offering military deferments to college students. Yet by 1967, despite growing university enrollment, only about 8 percent of the population attended university, still a small elite. Students wanted to be less elite and demanded that the government open up opportunities for enrollment. In March 1968 the West German Chamber of Commerce and Industry complained that German society risked producing more graduates than the number that could reasonably expect appropriate career opportunities.
On March 2, the day of the announcement, a prosecutor released Robert Mulke from prison on the grounds that the seventy-one-year-old was not in good enough health for prison. Mulke had been convicted three years earlier of three thousand murders while serving as assistant commandant of Auschwitz concentration camp.
In 1968 German student leaders estimated that they had six thousand militant students behind them. But they had the ability to mobilize many thousands more over a variety of issues. The Vietnam War, the illegal military dictatorship in Greece, and oppression by the shah of Iran were the three most popular foreign issues, but German issues occasionally rallied even more protesters. Fritz Teufel’s Commune I organization and a Marxist student study group by coincidence also called SDS, Socialistische Deutsche Studentenbund, were experienced and well organized.
One of the central themes of the student movement was that Germany was a repressive society. The implied word was “still,” Germany was still repressive—meaning it had failed to emerge from the Third Reich and become truly democratic. The presence of Nazis in government was only an underlying part of this. The suspicion on the part of many students that their parents may have either done or countenanced horrendous deeds had created a generation gap far wider and deeper than anything Grayson Kirk was seeing at Columbia.
The fear of the past, or in many cases lack of a past, was recognized by many psychiatrists and therapists as a special problem of Germans of the postwar generation. Sammy Speier, an Israeli-born psychoanalyst in private practice in Frankfurt, wrote, “Since Auschwitz there is no longer any narrative tradition, and hardly any parents and grandparents are left who will take children on their lap and tell them about their lives in the old days. Children need fairy tales, but it is just as essential that they have parents who tell them about their own lives, so that they can establish a relationship to the past.”
One of the surface issues was academic freedom and control of the university. The fact that this often stated issue was not at the root of the conflict is shown by the place where the student movement was first articulated, developed most rapidly, and exploded most violently. Berlin’s Free University was, as the name claimed, the most free university in Germany. It was created after the war, in 1948, and so was not mired in the often stultifying ways of the old Germany. By charter a democratically elected student body voted with parliamentary procedure on the faculty’s decisions. A large part of the original student body were politically militant East Germans who had left the East German university system because they refused to submit to the dictates of the Communist Party. They remained at the core of the Free University so that thirteen years after its founding, when the East Germans began erecting a wall in 1961, students from the Free University in the West attempted to storm the wall. After the wall was built, students from East Germany were unable to attend the Free University and it became largely a school for politicized West German students. With far greater intensity than American students, the students of West Berlin, the definitive products of the cold war, were rejecting capitalism and communism at the same time.
Berlin, partly because it was located at the heart of the cold war, became the center of all protest. East Germans were slipping into West Berlin, West Germans were slipping into the east. This second traffic was less talked about, and West Germany kept no statistics on it. In 1968, East Germany said that twenty thousand West Germans were crossing to East Germany every year. They were said not to be political, but this myth was disturbed in March 1968 when Wolfgang Kieling moved east. Kieling was a well-known German actor, famous in the United States for his portrayal of the East German villain in the 1966 Alfred Hitchcock movie Torn >Curtain starring Paul Newman. Kieling, who had fought for the Third Reich on the Russian front, was in Los Angeles at the time of the Watts race riots for the shooting of Torn Curtain and said he had been appalled by the United States. He said that he was leaving West Germany because of its backing of the United States, which, he said, was “the most dangerous enemy of humanity in the world today,” citing “crimes against the Negro and the people of Vietnam.”
In December 1966, Free University students fought in the streets with police for the first time. By then the American war in Vietnam had become one of the major issues around which the student movement organized. Using American demonstration techniques to protest against American policy, they quickly became the most noticeable student movement in Europe. But the students were also revolting against the materialism of West Germany and searching for a better way to achieve what East Germany had promised, a complete break with the Germany of the past. And while they were at it, they began demonstrating about tram fares and student living conditions.
On June 2, 1967, students gathered to protest Mayor Willy Brandt entertaining the shah of Iran. Once the guests were safely installed in the Opera House for a production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, the police attacked the Free University students outside with violent fury. Students fled in panic, but twelve were so severely beaten that they had to be hospitalized, and one fleeing student, Benno Ohnesorg, was shot and killed. Ohnesorg had not been a militant, and this had been one of his first demonstrations. The policeman who shot him was quickly acquitted, whereas Fritz Teufel, leader of the protest group Commune I, faced a possible five-year sentence in a lengthy trial on the charge of “sedition.” The national student movement was built on anger over this killing, which was protested not only in Berlin but throughout Germany, demanding the creation of a new parliamentary group to oppose the German legislature.
On January 23, 1968, a right-wing Hamburg pastor, Helmuth Thielicke, found his church filled with students wanting to denounce his sermon. He called in West German troops to clear his church of the students, who were distributing pamphlets with a revised Lord’s Prayer:
Our capital, which art in the West, amortized be Thy investments,
Thy profits come, Thy interest rates increase,
In Wall Street as they do in Europe.
Give us this day, our daily turnover.
And extend to us our credits, as we extend them to our creditors,
Lead us not into bankruptcy, but deliver us from the trade unions,
For thine is half the world, the power and the riches,
For the last two hundred years.
By 1968 theology students were also demonstrating, insisting that it was no longer acceptable to listen to church sermons without questions and dialogue in the service addressing the immorality of the West German state as well as moral outrage at the U.S. war against Vietnam. In effect the church was to become a discussion group for the purpose of heightening political and moral awareness. The most prominent of these theology student rebels was one of the student refugees from East Berlin, Rudi Dutschke, sometimes called Rudi the Red.
German SDS was well organized in the universities. On February 17, combining a good sense of timing with an impressive display of organization, the group hosted student activists from around the world to an international meeting against the American war in Vietnam. The International Vietnam Congress was the first large-scale international meeting of 1968 student movements and was being held at the height of the Tet Offensive when the Vietnam War was a mainstay of television programming around the world. In most countries, opposition to the war was not only one of the most popular causes—in many cases antiwar groups were the best-organized movements—but it was also the one issue they all had in common. Although an Iranian “revolutionary” attended, as did U.S. and Canadian militants, including two black Vietnam veterans who gave the clenched-fist salute and chanted arm in arm, “Hell, no, I ain’t gonna go!”—too late, as they had already been—it was largely a European meeting of German, French, Italian, Greek, and Scandinavian students. They met for a twelve-hour session of speeches and discussions in an enormous hall of the Free University with an overflow of thousands sent to two other large halls. The main hall was decorated with a huge flag of the North Vietnamese National Liberation Front along with a banner emblazoned with Che Guevara’s hard-to-refute statement: “The duty of a revolutionary is to make a revolution.” Speakers ranged from Dutschke, to leaders of other national movements, to the playwright Peter Weiss, whose Marat/Sade was being quoted by students all over the world.
Many of the foreign activists were dazzled by the Germans. One of the speakers, Alain Krivine, twenty-seven, a French Trotskyite who would later become one of the leaders in the spring Paris uprising, said, “Many of the 1968 student tactics were learned earlier in the year in Berlin and Brussels anti–Vietnam War demonstrations. The anti–Vietnam War movement was well organized throughout Europe. Dutschke and the Germans were the pioneers in the hard demonstration tactics. We went there and they had their banners and signs ready and their security forces and everything with militaristic tactics. It was new to me and the other French.”
Anti–Vietnam War poster on a street in Germany in 1968
(Photo by Leonard Freed/Magnum Photos)
Daniel Cohn-Bendit, the French-German student leader, was impressed with the way the German SDS had incorporated student issues into the larger protest. The French students invited Karl D. “Kaday” Wolf, the German SDS national chairman for 1968, to speak to students in France.
Born in 1940, Rudi Dutschke was the oldest of the German student leaders. Tariq Ali, leader of a British group called Vietnam Solidarity Campaign, VSC, and cofounder of a short-lived 1968 underground London review, Black Dwarf, described him as “of medium height with an angular face and a gentle smile. He always smiles with his eyes.” With his long dark hair shaking and swaying and a stubble of beard that seemed to neither grow nor be shaved off, he was said to be an electrifying orator, but this skill was always met by German youth with an awkward embarrassment. Germans, it seemed, had learned to be wary of electrifying oration and would offer him only polite applause. Other student leaders had advised Dutschke to moderate his speaking style.
His speech at the Congress drew parallels between the struggle of the Vietnamese people and that of Europeans to overthrow the classist system. Then, as he often did, he compared their fight to change European society one institution at a time to Mao’s famous Long March of 1934–1935, in which he gave his besieged movement a national presence by leading ninety thousand Chinese communists on a remarkably arduous trek across China, picking up small enclaves of support as they went. Of course, Dutschke didn’t point out that half of Mao’s original followers died along the way.
The talks had gone on for hours. Eric Fried was speaking. A recognized poet, he was what had become a rarity, a German Jew. Born in Austria in 1921, he had escaped the Nazis after his father was beaten to death. Though of a different generation, Fried was personally very close to a number of German student leaders, especially Dutschke. He was particularly valued by the German New Left because he was outspokenly anti-Zionist and pro-Palestinian. The German New Left, like many of their counterparts in Europe and the United States, saw the emerging Palestinian terrorist organization under the young Yasir Arafat as another romantic nationalist movement. But it was uncomfortable for these young Germans to back an organization so clearly bent on killing Jews, including Jews in Europe, so it was a considerable boost to have an actual Jewish survivor in their ranks. The switch away from supporting Israel had begun with the Six Day War and the rise of Arafat, but it also coincided with a growing lack of interest in nonviolence. That these Palestinians were interested only in violence simply meant that they could be seen as guerrilla fighters—like Che.
The expressions peace movement and antiwar movement were largely American and even in the United States were fast becoming old-fashioned in some leftist circles. European radicals were not as interested in an end to the war as in a North Vietnamese victory. They tended to see the Tet Offensive not as a tragic loss of life, but as a triumph for an oppressed people. The British radical Tariq Ali, using language that was also heard in Berlin, Rome, and Paris, said of Tet, “A wave of joy and energy rebounds around the world and millions more are suddenly, exhilaratingly, ceasing to believe in the strength of their oppressor.”
We all carry our own history on our backs. The American activists wanted a stop to the aggression. The Europeans wanted a defeat of colonialism—they wanted the United States to be crushed just as the European colonial powers had been. This was particularly apparent in the French insistence that the marines in Khe Sanh might suffer the same humiliating defeat as had the French in Dien Bien Phu. The constant articles in the French press asking, “Is Khe Sanh another Dien Bien Phu?” had a barely concealed wishfulness to them. There was a touch of self-loathing to the European Left, especially the Germans, and all sins were compared to those of their own countries. To the French and British Left, the Americans were colonialists, to the Germans they were Nazis. Peter Weiss’s 1968 Vietnam Discourse argued that the Americans in Vietnam were a Nazi-like evil.
The following morning an estimated eight thousand to twenty thousand people appeared on Kurfurstendamm, a wide boulevard lined with fashionable shops—used to launch expensive new fashion trends since West Berlin’s isolation simplified market research. Amazingly, the students’ ranks were swollen with hundreds of West Germans who had crossed East Germany, spending the night before in homes of Berlin comrades. The New York Times, which estimated “more than 10,000,” called it “the biggest anti-American rally ever staged in the city.” Through the cold, humid, gray streets of West Berlin, they carried with them a curious blend of cultures—portraits of Che Guevara, Ho Chi Minh, and Rosa Luxemburg, the Jewish leftist from Poland killed in Germany in 1919. They shouted the chant always heard at American antiwar marches—“Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh! NLF is gonna win!” They marched to the Opera House, where Benno Ohnesorg had been shot, and then to the Berlin Wall for more speeches. Dutschke said to a cheering crowd, “Tell the Americans the day and the hour will come when we will drive you out unless you yourselves throw out imperialism.” But for all his apparent anti-Americanism, Red Rudi, said to be the most important student revolutionary in Europe, was married to an American theology student from Chicago.
The police, many on horseback, had been posted mostly to protect American military and diplomatic installations. But the demonstrators made no attempt to approach these areas. Demonstrators climbed two thirty-story construction cranes and attached huge Viet Cong and red flags. The demonstrators then booed as construction workers took the flags down and burned them. The city of West Berlin, working with the trade unions, was able to assemble an equally large counterdemonstration that chanted, “Berlin supports America” and “Throw Dutschke out of West Berlin.”
The students from other countries returned from Berlin’s February Vietnam demonstration exhilarated. The British mounted their own demonstration on March 17, the second demonstration organized by Tariq Ali and the VSC. The first, like most previous London demonstrations, had been smaller and without violence. But on this occasion, thousands filled Oxford Street, a solid river of red flags and voices chanting, “NLF is gonna win!” A German SDS contingent had urged the VSC to try to take the U.S. embassy, but Tariq Ali did not believe this was possible. When the crowd reached Grosvenor Square, to the complete surprise of the VSC organizers, they broke through the police line and started running for the embassy. Armed with clubs, mounted British police charged with a brutality rarely seen in London. Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones was there and wrote about it in “Street Fighting Man.”
Anti–Vietnam War demonstration in Grosvenor Square, London, July 7, 1968
(Photo by David Hurn/Magnum Photos)
Aside from the imported issue of Vietnam and a worsening climate in Northern Ireland, the biggest issue in Britain that year was racism. Led by Enoch Powell, a member of Parliament, the country was seeing a virulent strain of what the American civil rights movement called white backlash set off by the Labour government’s proposed Commonwealth Immigration Bill. As the British decolonized their empire, workers were being told that black and brown people from the former empire would be coming and taking away their jobs. “Keep Britain White,” was Powell’s slogan, and a number of workers groups demonstrated with this slogan. There was some amusement when a Kenyan diplomat was harassed entering the House of Commons by “Keep Britain White” hecklers who shouted, “Go back to Jamaica!” at the East African.
It was Germany that seemed a volatile place waiting for a larger explosion. On April 3 the violent left wing that would gain more prominence in the 1970s for such actions burned two Frankfurt department stores. On April 11, Rudi Dutschke was in front of a West Berlin drugstore about to buy medicine for his baby boy, Hosea Che—named for a prophet and a revolutionary—when Joseph Bachmann, a twenty-three-year-old out-of-work Munich housepainter, walked up to him and fired three bullets from a handgun. One hit Dutschke in the chest, a second in the face, and a third lodged precariously in his brain. This was the first attempt at a political assassination in Germany since the fall of the Third Reich. Arrested after a gun battle with the police, Bachmann explained, “I heard of the death of Martin Luther King and since I hate communists I felt I must kill Dutschke.” Bachmann, who kept a picture of Hitler in his apartment and identified with him as a fellow Munich housepainter, was a devoted reader of a hate-mongering, right-wing paper called Bild Zeitung, Picture Times. The tabloid was owned by Axel Springer, Germany’s most powerful press baron, whose papers slavishly supported all U.S. policies and viciously attacked leftist movements, both cheering and encouraging attacks against them. DON’T LEAVE ALL THE DIRTY WORK TO THE COPS! read one headline.
Bild Zeitung, launched in 1952, became the centerpiece of an empire of right-wing press that became the largest in Europe with Bild’s circulation of four million, the largest of any daily on the European continent. Fourteen Springer publications, including five daily newspapers, had a total circulation of fifty million. The papers were not only anticommunist but also racist, and many felt that they were appealing to the very beast the new Germany was trying to lay to rest. Springer always claimed that he spoke for the way the average German thought, which was exactly what many feared. Springer did not deny that the paper sometimes got carried away. “You should see me falling out of bed in the morning with surprise at what I read in my own papers,” he once said.
It was not only students who were angered. Even before the shooting, two hundred writers had asked their publishers to boycott his papers. But while Bachmann’s claim that the newspaper had inspired him resonated with many, Axel Springer himself was more complicated. He was known as an excellent employer who treated workers so well that despite his right-wing politics, organized labor supported him. And despite the Nazi-like tone of his papers, Springer was a strong supporter of Jewish causes, to which he contributed generously from his own fortune. He campaigned tirelessly for German reparation payments to Israel, and his papers were strongly pro-Israel. But in 1968, what Germany’s New Left was most aware of was that the Springer press had declared war on them, demanding repressive laws to curtail demonstrations and to deal harshly with demonstrators, whom he called “terrorists.” He urged vigilante violence against the students.
The response was immediate: The anger over the shooting instantly transferred to anger toward Springer, because of his campaign for years against the Left, but also from a long-simmering rejection of the notion that Europe could be run by powerful press barons. A forerunner of Murdoch and Berlusconi, with an empire that seems quaint today in its lack of broadcast holdings, the question remained—how was it that this man, scooped up by the British from Germany’s rubble to run a radio broadcast, had become the most powerful opinion maker in Europe?
Only hours after the attack on Dutschke, a crowd of angry young people gathered in front of the nineteen-story steel-and-glass office block in the bohemian Kreuzberg section of Berlin. Springer had chosen the spot to build because it was defiantly right up against the Wall. He put a neon sign on the building that said, “Berlin bleibt frei”—“Berlin remains free.” Police used water cannons to disperse the crowd of students who threw rocks and flaming torches. The following day, columns of students, arms linked, marched in waves toward the West Berlin Springer building. By the time they reached it, it was already fortified with barbed wire and riot police. The crowd chanted Dutschke’s name and “Springer, murderer!” and “Springer, Nazi!” The police turned on their water cannons and began arresting demonstrators. At the City Hall demonstrators chanted, “Fascists!” and “Nazis!” The students also marched to the American radio station, where windows were broken. Munich demonstrators did better, actually managing to get inside the Springer building there before being driven off by police. Failing to take over buildings, students burned delivery trucks. Thousands of students also clashed with police in Hamburg, Esslingen, Hanover, and Essen. Mostly it was student clubs pitted against police water cannons, and the high-pressure water won the day. But the demonstrators stopped or delayed delivery of Springer papers. In Frankfurt they also stopped the leading West German business paper, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, because it was printed at a Springer plant. Demonstrators also appeared in front of Springer buildings in New York, London, and Paris. In London Tariq Ali led a group that broke away from a Martin Luther King memorial in Trafalgar Square and attempted to take over Springer offices. In Paris Alain Krivine recalled, “When Rudi was shot was the first spontaneous violent demonstration in Paris. The police were not even in riot gear, no helmets or shields, when suddenly the students in the Latin Quarter began to hurl tables and chairs at police.”
In Germany, the event fell on an Easter holiday, and five days of street battles followed the shooting. In these riots two were killed—an Associated Press photographer and a student, both from objects thrown by students—and several hundred were wounded. Many hundreds were arrested. It was the worst German street rioting since before Hitler came to power. Remembering the consequences of German political instability, most West Germans did not approve of the street violence. In June 1968 the German magazine Der Spiegel conducted a poll in which 92 percent of Berlin citizens were opposed to “the use of violence by protesting students.” The students were failing to appeal to the working class: 78 percent of Berliners under thirty from working-class homes said they opposed the student violence. Even some students were outspokenly opposed to the violence.
Dutschke survived his wounds and even wrote a letter to his would-be assassin, explaining his ideas of socialism. But Bachmann hanged himself in his prison cell.
Among the 230 students arrested in Berlin was Peter Brandt, the son of Willy Brandt, former Berlin mayor, minister of foreign affairs, and vice chancellor of Germany. Willy Brandt had always been the good German, the socialist who had opposed fascism and had nothing to hide in his past. But Peter said he was disappointed in his father, that since he had gotten into government he had lost his socialist fervor. He was a social democrat, the German equivalent of a liberal. “I never said that my father should leave office. That’s not true,” Peter stated. “But I think that he has changed and I regret it. He is no longer the same man. He is no longer the socialist who went to fight in Spain during the Civil War. We don’t agree anymore.” When his father suggested that he was spending too much time on politics and not enough on his studies, he said, “If I find that something needs to change, I find that it is my duty to do something to make that change happen.”
One of Peter’s professors warned his father, the vice chancellor, “In another six months your son Peter will become a communist.”
Brandt shrugged. “Anyone who has not been a communist at the age of twenty will never make a good social democrat.”