Wednesday, May 27, 2009

An historically important story. The Communists fomented the student riots.

Stasi spy shot West German protester in inflammatory 1967 killing

Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Benno Ohnesorg's death triggered widespread unrest
New information indicates that the killer in the controversial shooting of student protester Benno Ohnesorg in Berlin in 1967 was a West German policeman who was also working for the East German Stasi secret police.

Sifting through reams of old files from the communist state security apparatus in East Germany, two historians, Helmut Mueller-Enbergs and Cornelia Jabs, say they accidently uncovered information that the policeman, Karl-Heinz Kurras, was a so-called unofficial employee of the East German Ministry for State Security (MfS) and a member of the country's Socialist Unity Party (SED).
In reports published separately on Thursday by ZDF public television network and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) newspaper and based on the historians' findings, Kurras had been in the service of the Stasi secret police since 1955 and had been charged with spying on the West Berlin police.
Documents change a chapter in German history
Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Protesters in Munich in 1967 carrying a banner reading "Benno Ohnesorg - political murder" The documents found in the archives of the Birthler Agency - the authority which manages files from the former East Germany - also contained a message radioed to Kurras by the MfS after the fatal shooting of Ohnesorg, which read: "Destroy all material. Cease work for now. View events as very regrettable accident."
Ohnesorg was shot to death in West Berlin on June 2, 1967 during a student protest against the Shah of Iran, who was visiting Germany at the time. His death triggered widespread and violent student protests across West Germany and helped fuel sympathies for the militant Red Army Faction and its up-and-coming first generation leaders, Andreas Baader, Ulrike Meinhof and Gudrun Ensslin.
Espionage expert Mueller-Enbergs, told ZDF that there were no clues in the Stasi files that Kurras had been explicitly told to liquidate Ohnesorg. After the shooting, Kurras was tried for reckless manslaughter but acquitted due to a lack of evidence.
The new information raises the question: What would have happened to the German student protest movement of the late 1960s had people known that Ohnesorg's killer had been a spy for communist East Germany?

Politicians call for re-examination of 1967 Ohnesorg murder

Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Benno Ohnesorg died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.
The news that the perpetrator of a 1967 shooting was a spy for East Germany's Stasi secret police has sent shockwaves through Germany, shedding new light on the country's postwar history, amid calls for a fresh inquiry.

Former German interior minister, Otto Schily, and Dirk Niebel, general-secretary of Germany's liberal Free Democrats, have called for a new investigation into the circumstances surrounding the fatal shooting in 1967 of student activist Benno Ohnesorg.
Schily, who, before becoming a Social Democrat and interior minister, was a Green party activist and defense lawyer for leftist German terrorists, said the new Stasi revelations meant the case had to be "politically and juristically re-evaluated."
"The files require a very precise re-examination," he said.
Niebel of the FDP urged all parties in parliament "without delay to make way for a no-holds-barred inquiry into Stasi involvement in the old West Germany."
Berlin's former SPD mayor, Klaus Schuetz, said the pension claims of the policeman, who shot and killed Ohnesorg, also needed to be reassessed.
"There is no statute of limitations on murder"
The policeman, Karl-Heinz Kurras, is still alive. He's 81 years old and could face a new trial. Charges have already been brought against him by Carl-Wolfgang Holzapfel, head of an organization for the victims of Stalinism. Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Karl-Heinz Kurras (left) was on trial twice but both times aquitted.
"There is no statute of limitations on murder," Holzapfel said in a statement released after historians sifting through old files of East Germany's Stasi discovered the link to Kurras.
But, since the files apparently do not contain information suggesting that the Stasi explicitly ordered the liquidation of Ohnesorg, it is unlikely that Kurras would be convicted.
26-year old Benno Ohnesorg was shot dead on June 2, 1967, after demonstrations protesting the visit of the Shah of Iran to Berlin had turned violent.
The bullet came from Kurras who was a West German policeman. After the shooting, he was tried for reckless manslaughter but acquitted due to a lack of evidence.
After the shooting, the Stasi broke off communications with their spy in West Berlin in a final message which read: "Destroy all material. Cease work for now. Event is viewed as very regrettable accident."
The incident was a watershed in German politics
The case threw Germany into chaos. Student protests, which so far had been peaceful, took a sharp turn, becoming more radical and violent. The death of Benno Ohnesorg triggered a wave of terror and became the justification for some to take up arms against the state.
Bildunterschrift: The death of Ohnesorg triggered a wave of violent protests across Germany.
The so-called Red Army Faction (RAF) under its leaders, Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof, began a campaign of violence against Germany's political and business elite, culminating in 1977 in what became known as the "Deutsche Herbst", or German Autumn. The RAF is believed to be responsible for more than 30 murders and only ended its reign of terror in the early 1990s.
Jochen Staadt, a historian and head of research on the former East German communist party at Berlin's Free University, says that the mere possibility that the killing had been planned by the Stasi means that history will have to be re-written.

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