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Sie sind hier: Home » Girl Friday – the Book of Bad » Girl Friday – the Book of Bad 29. The Good Germans
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Gabbi WernerGirl Friday – the Book of Bad 29. The Good Germans

Von | 28.02.2014, 4:01 | Kein Kommentar

In my home town, things used to be simple. If you had a German accent you were half a Nazi. Unless your name was Baader. Or Meinhof. Or Ensslin. Or …

Welcome. To the stories I told in many hotelrooms. To a man who had trouble falling asleep. A business deal. He paid for my words.

Here they are.

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ALLES MUSS WEG! Everything must go.
It must have been when I was nine that I first heard of the Rote Armee Fraktion, the Baader Meinhof Gruppe. Growing up with Swiss parents who spoke German, I had a hard time in the Netherlands. Speaking German was like being half a Nazi back in the Seventies. Whenever my mother and I would go to the supermarket or greengrocer I implored her to speak Dutch. Sometimes she would indulge me on my wishes. It did not make a real difference. Her accent betrayed her German roots sufficiently to make people stare at us, not trying to conceal their repulsion. The fact that my mother´s parents had only moved to Switzerland from Germany some years after the Second World War did not help a lot either. Being German was being wrong. We were the people who were responsible for Anne Frank and all the other victims of the war. Having a German identity, which in the eyes of our villagers and my classmates was what we had, was like being a collaborator to the Nazi regime, unless you could prove your grandparents had died in some kind of underground movement. And our family could do no such thing. Our TV had German channels, and I liked to watch German TV, but I would never tell any of my friends.
I liked „Persil man“. He was a man in a cleaning detergent commercial. He sat in a very serious looking chair, and said that it was scientifically proven that Persil made your laundry whiter than any other product.
Another programme I liked was „Aktenzeichen XY ungelöst“, about real crimes. The show was boring beyond belief. A man with big glasses and a brown suit dished up crimes. All the crimes took place far away from home, so even though they were real, there was a feeling of safety watching the programme.
One night I was introduced to a group of people wanted for various terrorist crimes: Ulrike Meinhof, Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin,  Brigitte Mohnhaupt and the rest of the gang. Die Rote Armee Fraktion. Until then criminals to me had always been men in striped suits. Or men who wore dark glasses. They were men. And you could see they were bad. The Rote Armee Fraktion was different. Their group had many women who were just as willing to break the law as their terrorist boyfriends. I found that truly exiting, scary too. It fascinated me completely. The police station in our village had this box outside, with posters offering ransoms for wanted criminals. Soon after the XY television show a poster was hung up. They were looking for the group in the Netherlands too! The gang looked incredibly hip. Long hair, beards, and the women had dark-eyed make-up. These were villains I would like to catch in order to help the police.
In Germany at that time, there was a different approach. A lot of goodwill went out to the Rote Armee Fraktion, especially in the beginning. Finally someone took charge of the remnants of the Second World War. At last someone said that Germany had to change. And it was said in clear statements. Assaults, terrorist attacks, kidnapping. By this charismatic group. A survey was held back then, and many German households would give shelter to Baader, Meinhof and the rest. If a German family would be asked to hide them, most households would gladly help out. The Rote Armee Fractions  public relations tactics were smart, and effective. Whilst robbing banks for the funding of their attacks and guerrilla training in Palestine and Jordan, the Baader Meinhof Gruppe constantly made referrals to Bonnie and Clyde, the huge box office hit of that time. They were the German equivalent to Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty, with a pinch of southern American frivolity, in the form of pictures they had distributed of themselves in front of a Che Guevara poster.
But it went further than that. Nothing was left to chance. Andreas Baader had a graphic designer come up with the logo of the Red Star with a machine gun in it. No matter how violent and brutal their actions, many of the German and western European citizens felt respect for the group. They were the first to address the fact that most politicians and law enforcers in western Germany were former national socialists. Especially to the generation who had not grown up in the war but had learned of the horrors of it, the brute statements of the Baader Meinhof Gruppe were a revelation. Their urban guerrilla would finally put an end to this discrepancy, the revolution they had in mind would ultimately terminate the fascist state that Germany still was. The Rote Armee Fraktion were Revolutionary Rockstars
But in reality, they soon became just as narrow minded as the people they were trying to change…

To be Continued. Next Friday. Every Friday. From 09.00h.

Link to German Translation: click  Girl Friday – Buch des Bösen 29. Die Guten Deutschen

Artwork: Gabbi Werner

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