German Students Revolt in the Streets

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Fifth Estate # 53, May 1-15, 1968

Liberation News Service — The thousands of left-wing German students clashing with police on the streets of Berlin, Frankfort, Hanover, Munich and other German cities rallied for reasons beyond the original motivation of the shooting of Rudi Dutsche.

“Red Rudi,” a leader of the Socialist German Students League (SDS), was shot in Berlin by Joseph Bachmann, April 11. An admirer of Adolph Hitler, Bachmann claimed that his assassination attempt was inspired by the murder of Martin Luther King. Dutsche, however, is recovering from his wounds.

According to German students visiting the United States, large numbers of German youth dispute the entire turn that German reconstruction has taken: parliamentary democracy, support for U.S. foreign policy, a divided Germany, and the avidly anti-communist bias forwarded by the Kiesinger government. University management ranks second to these issues.

The rebellious German students have not presented the press with a doctrinaire statement of their reasons for protest. Nor do they recite from a formulated written directive for world. or even German revolution. Although not orthodox Marxists, their form of protest has been cast in the model of guerrilla warfare with liberation as the objective. Mobilized cadres strike systematically, sequentially and repeatedly at areas critical to the enemy’s position, contracting support from politically neutral people in the subject area.

Contrary to the limited coverage by the establishment press, the current demonstrations in Germany are not isolated rampages, but a continuation of efforts begun by anarcho-communist sects before the 1960s. On March 17 students assembled in the Square dedicated to victims of Nazi Germany to denounce the Social Democratic Party Nuremberg Congress for their efforts in advancing the controversial emergency power law, a law similar to the McCarran Act that makes possible the suspension of civil liberties in times of national crisis.

The rebellious German masses—for thousands of students banded in concert are masses—united to curtail the power of the Springer newspaper chain, a quasi-official organ of the bourgeoisie and a forum for the government’s anti-Communist and conservative rationales. In more palatable terms, the German students are adopting labor union tactics of stopping the production and distribution of a product.

Springer controls, aside from periodicals, 43% of the morning tabloid circulation in Germany and 73% of the total newspaper circulation in West Berlin. Springer Publications monopolize and manipulate West German public opinion against the left and for capitalism. Each Springer affiliate continues “the permanent manipulative campaign against the basic democratic ‘Protest movement.”

Unionists, writers and professors recently signed a declaration protesting the power of the Springer chain. 103 authors belonging to Gruppe 47 (including Gunter Grass) refuse to even write for Springer publications. Deputies in the parliament at Bonn who favor a law limiting the number of publications that can be controlled by one man seem to be on the increase, according to Le Monde.

The actions program of the “Extra-Parliamentary Opposition,” the name adopted by the students, contains the following demands or target goals: the U.S. should relinquish control of the Berlin radio station RIAS; the resignation of the Berlin Senate and Mayor Schutz; the creation of a city council of workers, government officials and students; an hour-a-day free television time for student opinion: and the dissolution of the present monopoly of West German’s press baron, Axel Springer.

The students halted the fighting on Wednesday, April 17, to assess their gains. The Springer publishing plant, like other Springer offices, has concurred serious physical damage. Sections of the ten block area of the plant are strewn with glass from broken windows and burnt out Springer vehicles. Barbed wire surrounded the area.

The German student movement could redefine revolutionary strategy throughout the Western world, especially since German students must confront the same military/ industrial/government bureaucracies as American radicals.

Behind their strategy was theory, the theory of Marx, Marcuse, Che and Mao. Behind their actions was a formulated offensive, a pattern of concentrated attacks on the logistics of the power structure. Political relevancy comes from limiting the scope of possible actions and employing appropriate counter-offensives.