West German student movement in the 1960s

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Illustration of the 1968 movement in the House of History in Bonn
Painting of banners in the architecture building of the TU Berlin in protest against the passing of the emergency laws, May 1968
Banners on the architecture building of the TU Berlin in protest against the passing of the emergency laws, May 1968

The West German student movement of the 1960s was a left-wing, socially critical political movement in the Federal Republic of Germany and West Berlin . It arose parallel to other student protests in the USA and Western Europe , which are summarized as the 68 movement .

She strived for a comprehensive democratization of German society as a contribution to the emancipation of all people from capitalist exploitation , oppression and alienation with anti-authoritarian means and referred to the neo-Marxism of the Frankfurt School and the New Left , which differed from the conventional political concepts of social democracy and real socialism delimited. Essential sub-goals were an effective extra-parliamentary opposition to the grand coalition of 1966 , the fight against German emergency laws , the Vietnam War , the influence of the Axel Springer publishing house , the "de-fascization" of the police after the shooting of the student Benno Ohnesorg at the demonstration on May 2 June 1967 in West Berlin , a far-reaching university and educational reform . The overarching goals were sexual self-determination and an anti-authoritarian education . More than the related movements of other states, the West German student movement clarified about the time of National Socialism and called for a complete denazification of German society and consistent anti-fascism .

It missed many of its short and long-term goals, but achieved some social reforms and a longer-term change in cultural values . It contributed to the election victory of the social-liberal coalition government in 1969 and influenced many new social movements . With the assassination attempt on the spokesman of the movement Rudi Dutschke on April 11, 1968, it began to disintegrate, from which the authoritarian-centralist K-groups and left- wing terrorist groups ( Movement June 2nd , Red Army Faction ) emerged. What constitutes their significance for the present is controversial.


“Fight against atomic death” and Easter marches

The West German student movement had no direct historical precursors. Some German students had campaigned for parliamentary democracy in the Vormärz (1815–1849) and took part in the March Revolution of 1848/1849 . Since then, however, the majority of the German intelligentsia have belonged to the political right, which opposed the democracy and labor movement.

After the Second World War , most West German students were apolitical or conservative. The Marshall Plan and the “ economic miracle ” favored the integration of the Federal Republic into the West, which was pursued by the Federal Government under Konrad Adenauer ( CDU ), and thus overtook the SPD's alternative political concepts aimed at non-alignment and early German reunification . The rearmament of the Federal Republic from 1955 onwards and the equipment of the Bundeswehr with nuclear weapons from 1958 onwards met with considerable opposition and for the first time led to West German extra-parliamentary opposition. But the " Fight against Atomic Death " movement lost its momentum as early as 1959 when the main initiators, the SPD and DGB, withdrew from the organization. As a result of its electoral defeats, the SPD finally turned away from Marxism in the Godesberg Program in 1959 and, as a moderate people 's party , sought new groups of voters. Parts of the Socialist German Student Union (SDS), the then university association of the SPD, rejected this change of course, continued their anti-nuclear protests and also worked with supporters of the KPD , which had been banned since 1956 . This exacerbated the conflict with the SPD, which led to the SDS being expelled in 1961.

New global political constellations relativized the systemic conflict between NATO states and the Eastern Bloc and increasingly questioned the cross - party anti - communism in the Federal Republic of the 1950s. The annual Easter march of the anti-armaments kept the prospect of a future without weapons of mass destruction and war alive. External impetus also came from anti-colonial liberation movements , the civil rights movement and the Students for a Democratic Society in the USA, the intellectual circles of the British and French New Left and the Situationists who influenced the group Subversive Action (from 1963).

As a result of changes in consumption and leisure activities and the enormous influence of pop culture on the lives of young people since the 1950s, a dynamic modernization of West German society had already begun around 1960, which primarily contributed to a profound transformation of mentalities , values ​​and gender images who led youth. This general social upheaval at the beginning of the 1960s was the prerequisite for the 1968 movement and not its result. He had reached all social classes and political directions.

"Unpunished Nazi justice" and independence of the SDS

The Socialist German Student Union (SDS) was founded in 1949 as a youth organization of the SPD and saw education about National Socialism , its causes and crimes as one of its main tasks. When the statute of limitations for most of these crimes was imminent in 1959 , local SDS groups carried out the nationwide exhibition of the Nazi Justice Unpunished, which had been prepared by some students from the Free University of Berlin . The SDS thus assumed responsibility for the prosecution of former Nazi lawyers, who it wanted to be understood as an impetus for a comprehensive coming to terms with the past . Even after the SPD excluded the initiators, they continued the exhibition. This is considered to be one of the origins of the student movement. In the fall of 1961, the SPD leadership excluded the SDS from the party. This then developed into the leading, non-party organization of the West German student movement.

The Eichmann trial in Israel from 1961, the Auschwitz trials in Frankfurt am Main from 1963 and the statute of limitations debate of the Bundestag in 1965 gave further impetus for the West German approach to the Nazi crimes. Authors belonging to the student movement took up the subject, according to Rolf Hochhuth with the play " Der Stellvertreter " (1963) and Peter Weiss with the documentary theater " The Investigation " (1965). The Fischer controversy at the Berlin Historians' Day in 1964 concerned the question of war guilt for the First World War , but it contributed to the breakthrough of socio-historical perspectives in German history . From then on, the continuity of German elites from the founding of the German Empire in 1871 to the present day moved into focus. The student movement gave this new view a mass base. Since 1964, authors of the student movement replaced the totalitarian theory that dominated the 1950s with economic-Marxist theories of fascism . In 1968 the SDS made the activities of Federal President Heinrich Lübke during the Nazi era a public issue.

Spiegel Affair

In October 1962, Federal Defense Minister Franz Josef Strauss had editors of the news magazine Der Spiegel arrested for a critical report on the armed forces and charged them with treason . On the other hand, widespread protests in defense of freedom of the press quickly formed . Many students also demonstrated against the violation of fundamental rights by the federal government and, together with Group 47 and the PEN Center Germany, demanded that Strauss resign. The SDS initiated a nationwide collection of signatures and declared the affair with the planned emergency laws for dangerous authoritarian tendencies in the Federal Republic, for example. Many students recognized the importance of the critical public for democracy. The student protests at the time are seen as the forerunner of the later campaign against Springer-Verlag, which, from APO's point of view, threatened freedom of the press with oversized market shares and anti-democratic mass manipulation.

Schwabing riots

In the 1950s, leisure-oriented middle-class youths were emphasized by the older generation as " yobs devalued" and authoritarian limited. On June 21, 1962, five days of street fights between young people and the police developed from a complaint against street musicians in the Munich district of Schwabing . Many students from the neighboring Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich took part. These " Schwabing riots " are often seen as the end of the Adenauer era and the start of the student movement, at least as an early sign of the potential for protest at the time in the younger generation, who were prepared to fight for self-determined freedom from state and parental authorities. The protests were already beginning to aim to democratize the police and to reform their training, which was determined by the concepts of authority.


At the beginning of the 1960s, Group 47 , a group of West German post-war writers, clearly opposed the restoration of West German society and published calls for a change of government to the SPD. Some authors associated with the student movement and criticized an outwardly apolitical or inactive attitude of their colleagues, so Erich Fried to Hans Werner Richter and Günter Grass . In 1966 there was a dispute at a group meeting in the USA: Peter Weiss, Hans Magnus Enzensberger and Reinhard Lettau publicly showed their solidarity with the anti-war movement in the USA. Grass and Richter distanced themselves and did not sign a protest resolution against the Vietnam War. When Grass specifically called the magazine fascist in 1966, Fried called for the group to be separated from Grass. In 1967 the group was dissolved. Fried then emphasized that the group internally shared the SDS's criticism of the Springer concern. But the hostility of some writers towards the students contributed to their decline.


In particular, sociology and related areas of humanities tied in with intellectual developments buried, persecuted and often exiled by National Socialism, according to the demand for a critical science. The influence of the officially highly respected scientists, some of whom returned from emigration, such as Max Horkheimer , Theodor W. Adorno and Herbert Marcuse with their critical analysis of the state and society ( Frankfurt School , Critical Theory ) had an electrifying effect on the students - despite the differences between the generations. Many exiled scholars and writers in exile who sharply criticized the restorative character of the Federal Republic in the 1950s, for example Klaus and Heinrich Mann , were reprinted or reprinted for the first time.

Youth culture

In connection with new genres of music such as rock and beat music , a youth culture had developed that tried to differentiate itself from the established society in its forms of expression, but in its basic orientation was in some cases also apolitical, unorganized and certainly in some respects conforming to the system.

Nevertheless, this youth movement was by many adults as a serious threat to their traditional lifestyle - particularly with regard to the questioning of a strict religion-based sexual morality and the traditional social conventions of the 1950s (culturally example in music and clothing , rejection of " secondary virtues " Konsumismuskritik place Economic miracle - enthusiasm) - taken and rejected. These fundamental differences of opinion contributed much to the rapidly growing irreconcilability between the generations in the late 1960s. A radical current within this subculture was e.g. B. the Central Council of Roaming Hash Rebels . It is surprising to what extent fashion innovations (trousers instead of skirts) were later adopted by those who once branded trousers for girls as the downfall of the West. Those who once demonstrated against the film The Sinner in front of and in cinemas saw themselves later exposed to completely different demands in the youth work of their own political groups, some of which ultimately even became law.

It is often overlooked that there were also youth protests below the major movements, or embedded in quite conservative movements, who turned against repressive measures, which were then classified as fascist . The DLV 's national junior athletics team in Dole threatened to go on strike in 1965 because the authoritarian team management wanted to solve a disciplinary problem on their own by banning a team member from the international competition . With the help of French journalists, the officials finally gave in. This can be seen as preparation for the strike of the national team at the European Athletics Championships in Athens in 1969 .


Big coalition

A certain leveling of differences became noticeable in party politics in the 1960s. The similar slogans with which the SPD and CDU entered the election campaign in 1965 are symptomatic. A year later the grand coalition came into being , which left the role of the parliamentary opposition solely to the small FDP . The government's plan to introduce a new majority voting system and thus largely confine the political market to the popular parties appeared to be another factor that underscored the need for extra-parliamentary opposition. The discussions about the passing of the emergency laws also had a mobilizing effect on students and pupils. This led to the fact that in 1968 the term Extra-Parliamentary Opposition (APO) was discussed in general.

The APO was formed after the grand coalition of the SPD and Union parties came about in 1966.

Higher education reforms

In 1962, the delegates' conference of the SDS decided on a university memorandum that formulated central points of criticism of the West German higher education system: Education was reduced to the mere development of know-how ; the university bodies are oligarchic professorships with no say for the students; the institute discipline introduced is based on the organization of commercial and industrial companies; Seminars are mere places where the “recording of finished thought results” (student presentations and professors' monologues) to acquire “entitlement certificates” for an academic career in professional life. On the other hand, the SDS called for an extended participation in seminars, institutes, faculties and senates, a democratic self-administration of the universities and the "abolition of all irrelevant positions of power and dependencies".

In the center of the picture is a Trotsky transparency carried by two young men. Peter Brandt holds the banner on the right. 1968

The SDS saw these university reforms as part and prerequisite for comprehensive social reform. Accordingly, the conference resolved to adopt the theories of the old and new left. Afterwards, many theory circles were formed in which texts by Karl Marx , Michail Alexandrowitsch Bakunin , Rosa Luxemburg , Georg Lukács , Karl Korsch , Wilhelm Reich and the authors of the Frankfurt School were read and debated.

While the SDS still adhered to traditional concepts of co-determination, others tended towards a comprehensive cultural revolution. At the University of Strasbourg , a group close to the situationists published the brochure “On the misery in student life” in October 1966: The students had become “cadres of big industry”, had adapted to the functional mechanisms of modern capitalism and reproduced them in private and sexual life Relationships of exploitation and domination in class society, consumed cultural goods only as goods and drugs in order to evade everyday problems. Cultivating poverty in the bohemian lifestyle is sham. Extreme alienation paired with excessive self-confidence characterize this life. A way out can only be achieved through comprehensive social criticism and through a new proletariat that organizes itself in councils.

After the murder of Benno Ohnesorg, students often disrupted academic celebrations in order to emphasize their demands. On November 9, 1967, Detlev Albers and Gert Hinnerk Behlmer unrolled the banner " Under the gowns - mustard of 1000 years " at the handover of the rectorate at the University of Hamburg . They wanted to point to a “culture of insincerity” at German universities, whose professors had hardly given any consideration to their role in the Nazi dictatorship. The lecturer Bertold Spuler confirmed the matter with his interjection "They all belong in the concentration camp ", as did Karl August Bettermann , who called for resistance against left-wing students at the 1965 Burschentag. In Munich, spectators turned the rector's party (November 25, 1967) into a carnival with confetti, soap bubbles, paper snakes and balloons. When they remembered the dead, they shouted "Ohnesorg". The celebration did not take place in the following years. In May 1968, members of Commune I took the FU's coat of arms from a wall and burned it in the Rectorate's garden. In June 1968 the communard Fritz Teufel stole the gown from the FU rector at the handover of the rectorate, cycled through the city and stamped fictitious letters of discharge to the professors with his official seal. Many of them saw such actions as a break in the dialogue and were indignant about partial concessions from the ministers of education to the students. In response to this, conservative professors founded the Bund Freiheit der Wissenschaft in 1970 .

Sexual Liberation

Based on the writings of Wilhelm Reich (“The sexual struggle of youth”, “The sexual revolution”), a sexual revolution took place . The removal of the taboo on sexuality was intended to shake the capitalist economic system and bring it down. However, the majority of the protagonists of the movement - with Herbert Marcuse (The One-Dimensional Man) - quickly came to the opinion that the partial release of sexuality was only a new form of oppression, a repressive desublimation. As a means of political agitation, sexual provocation remained important later on.

Against the Vietnam War

Anti-war demonstration in West Berlin , 1968

The SDS made solidarity with colonized peoples its task very early on. In a lecture on anti-colonial movements in 1954, an SDS representative first referred to Hồ Chí Minh , with whom he linked the hope of a socialism in Vietnam that was independent of the Soviet Union.

In October 1965, the SDS delegates' conference called on all student groups to information events on the Vietnam War . Anyone who remains silent about this must be clear that they support a policy of genocide . On February 5, 1966, SDS, SHB , LSD and HSU carried out a demonstration against this war in West Berlin. 500 of the 2500 or so participants moved in front of the local America House , blocked access with a sit-in , threw a few eggs on the facade and raised the US flag to half-mast on the roof. Although all student associations apart from the SDS distanced themselves from it, the newspapers of Springer Verlag took the incident as an opportunity for inflammatory articles against all of them. From March 1966, the SHB also called for action against the Vietnam War.On May 22nd, 1966 the SDS organized the Vietnam - Analysis of an Example with 2000 participants in Frankfurt am Main . SHB, LSD, HSU, Die Falken and the “Campaign for Disarmament” supported him. The main speaker was Herbert Marcuse .

On February 17 and 18, 1968, a large International Vietnam Congress took place at the TU Berlin . The SDS and the Brussels Conference called for active resistance to the Vietnam War and Western imperialism , referring to Che Guevara's motto "The duty of every revolutionary is to make the revolution". The congress also served as a meeting point for important representatives of the 68 movement from other countries. As the main speaker, Rudi Dutschke represented his concept of provocative direct action and limited rule violation, which he had adopted from the SDS in the USA and the Situationists. The approximately 15,000 participants wanted to try this out at the final demonstration, which the West Berlin Senate had banned. Günter Grass, Erich Fried and the Protestant Bishop Kurt Scharf persuaded Dutschke not to demonstrate past the US barracks, where shots at demonstrators were feared. Many participants nevertheless felt the demonstration as the beginning of a revolutionary movement.

Anti-Springer Campaign

Cobblestone and badge "expropriated Springer", 1969 (Childhood and Youth Collection of the Stadtmuseum Berlin Foundation )

The student anti-Springer campaign encompasses the demands and actions of the student protest community in West Germany since 1967 against the Axel Springer publishing house and its publisher Axel Springer , which took place mainly under the slogan “Dispossessed Springer”. It was formulated openly for the first time in the Berliner Extrablatt on May 13, 1967. In the context of the discussion about press concentration, Springer was accused of dominating 70 percent of the market with his publications in Berlin alone and thus having a monopoly of both the press and opinion . With regard to the position of power of Springer Verlag, other West German publishers - especially Rudolf Augstein - called for a law against concentration in the press at an early stage .

The accusation of influencing opinion became acute after the demonstration on June 2, 1967 in West Berlin against the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi . The demonstrators, mainly members of the SDS and other student groups, were confronted with the so-called jubilation Persians. These included members of the Iranian secret service SAVAK , who attacked the peaceful demonstrating students with clubs and steel pipes in front of the police who remained inactive. The police then brutally broke up the demonstration. The Iranian thugs were allowed to leave the field unhindered. In the course of this operation, the student Benno Ohnesorg was shot from behind by police officer Karl Heinz Kurras in the evening . The majority of the Berlin press, but especially the publications of Springer Verlag, initially untruely presented the events of June 2nd as scandalous riots on the part of the students, which the police had correctly ended. In addition, the death of Ohnesorg was initially declared by politics and the judiciary as a death as a result of blunt violence on the back of the head, before the official cause of death was changed to shooting in self-defense.

The subsequent reports in the newspapers, especially by Springer Verlag, confirmed the opinion of the members of the student movement that the Springer press incited its readers against the protesting students. After the assassination attempt on Rudi Dutschke, the declaration of the fourteen, a statement by 14 left-wing intellectuals headed by Theodor W. Adorno, spoke of “systematic agitation” and the “targeted defamation of a minority” by the Springer Corporation. After Ohnesorg's death, SDS leader Dutschke declared in an interview with Spiegel on July 10, 1967: “We demand - on the basis of the possibility of expropriation given in the Berlin constitution - the expropriation of the Springer Group.” This was supported in September 1967 by SDS finally decided to dispossess Springer from the campaign for disarmament that began in the 1950s and justified its commitment by stating that this was the only way to save freedom of expression in West Germany. With the demand for the expropriation of Springer, a democratization of the press was to be achieved.

There was a new level of journalistic escalation in February 1968. In the night of February 1 to February 2, unknown perpetrators broke windows of seven newspaper branches of the Berliner Morgenpost . They left a leaflet there demanding the expropriation of Springer. This act of destruction was acknowledged as a terrorist act by Bild and the Berliner Morgenpost with a caricature that equated the SDS with the (rather trivialized) SA in the Reichskristallnacht in 1938 . The Justice Senator Hans-Günter Hoppe is also quoted as saying “These are fascist methods”. It all started with thrown windows in Germany.

Assassination attempt on Rudi Dutschke

Another radicalization of the student movement, not only with regard to the topic of jumpers, can be clearly identified with the attack on its symbolic figure Rudi Dutschke on Maundy Thursday, April 11, 1968. Dutschke was gunned down in the street in Berlin by the unskilled worker Josef Bachmann , but survived the attack, seriously injured. The attack was preceded by several articles in the Springer press, which polemicized against the students and Dutschke in particular, for example, on February 7, 1968, the BILD newspaper demanded: "Stop the terror of the young reds now!" In addition, an article appeared in the National-Zeitung with the headline: “Stop the red Rudi now!” This edition was found after the attack on Bachmann.

The following Easter days saw "street battles such as West Germany had not known since the Weimar Republic". Under slogans such as “Put the Springer on the fingers!” And “BILD has mitgeschossen”, there were demonstrations that were supposed to prevent the distribution of Springer-Verlag newspapers in almost all major cities in Germany. The APO had a leaflet distributed in which they placed Axel Springer in a row with the publisher of the striker , Julius Streicher : “Julius Streicher incited the murder of Jews in his newspaper 'Der Stürmer'. He was sentenced to death for this. Axel C. Springer incites student murder. He has not yet been convicted and rushes and rushes and rushes ... "

During the Easter riots in Munich on April 15, the photo reporter Klaus Frings was so badly injured by a stone throwing from the ranks of the demonstrators that he died two days later. The student Rüdiger Schreck died a day later, also from the consequences of a blow injury. According to his brother's research, in which Günter Wallraff was also involved, this could have been inflicted on him by a police officer.

The APO meanwhile discussed the "question of violence": on the one hand with regard to which means of achieving one's own goals would be sensible and legitimate in the future, and on the other hand with regard to the violence that one is actually exposed to and the population as a whole. With regard to the latter point, it was found that the violence “from above” is not just about the police batons on the street, but also, for example, a partisan press is used as an instrument of violence.

Adoption of the emergency laws

Only a month after the attack on Dutschke, the long-planned emergency laws were finally passed. The anti-emergency campaign, which since 1966 had successively gained greater influence not only among the student body but not in parliament , culminated on May 11, 1968 in a star march on Bonn without being able to prevent the law. The fear that the introduction of the new paragraphs would lead to a new enabling law like in 1933 was widespread. Immediately before the emergency laws were passed, Hans-Jürgen Krahl from the SDS saw “the members of the Bundestag determined to wipe out the last few democratic legal claims in this country”. One leaflet further: "There is only one practical answer to the fascization of society: the organization of the resistance."

Jürgen Habermas pointed out (in a reappraisal of the Easter riots) that there was actually no sign of a revolutionary situation in the Federal Republic. He warned the student movement of a serious miscalculation of the situation - and was sharply criticized for it.

Overall, the discussion subsequently increasingly shifted from criticizing individual problems such as the emergency legislation or the concentration of the press towards a general criticism of the Federal Republic's system. The phase of provocation was finally out, the anti-authoritarian hedonists , such as the Berlin Commune I , were pushed back. Her front man Dieter Kunzelmann: "Urban guerrillas and Maoist party foundations [only emerged] in the autumn of 1969. Their hour of birth was announced as early as Easter 1968."

Ironically, the formation of the social-liberal government coalition in 1969 contributed to the aggravation of radicalization . Now the question “Reform or Revolution?” Was much more specific . The reform of the Federal Republic, under Brandt's dictum “Dare to dare more democracy”, has now become a trademark of the government. If one wanted to continue fighting the government, one had to attack the whole system as such in order to still have the authority to interpret. The only thing left for the extra-parliamentary opposition was the term "revolution"; Willy Brandt had taken the term "reform" away from them. As a result, the insulting of the SPD as “social fascists” was soon brought back from oblivion.

Fragmentation and dissolution of the SDS

Since the autumn of 1968, the structure of the extra-parliamentary opposition has changed fundamentally. The SDS could no longer represent the youth and student movement as a whole or even only in its essential parts. Countless new groups emerged, which soon fought more among themselves for recognition and positions of power than outwardly for their actual goals. The criticism of women at the delegates' conference in September 1968 about their suppression in the SDS clearly showed the contradictions and power relations in the SDS at that time. In the period that followed, there were numerous splits and splits, including on other issues.

The SDS had also changed in 1967/68 after grassroots groups had formed which, due to their special focus, soon grew into collective organizations and finally broke away from the parent organization. It took until February 1970 for the Socialist German Student Union to disband. After the assassination attempt on Rudi Dutschke , Hans-Jürgen Krahl became the theoretical pioneer of the SDS and died a few days earlier after an accident - the SDS was buried at the Krahl funeral. This was by no means the end of the movement, but rather the real "founding time" of the countless circle organizations. At the end of 1968, Horst Mahler was in a certain sense right when he said that the SDS's crisis had only come about through its growth. It must be noted that this growth was not only quantitative (influx of sympathizers), but above all qualitative (strong differentiations in content). From then on, every programmatic definition of the individual groups had to be synonymous with fractionation and delimitation.


New founding of communist parties

The DKP and KPD / ML were founded as early as September and December 1968 - foundings that would have been inconceivable without the situation caused by the APO. Neither these parties nor the other organizations were able to achieve the goal of a real mobilization of the (initially to be rediscovered) proletariat. The fact that part of the movement now increasingly turned to the classic “left” theorists, who were fully available for the first time in history, did not change that. In sharp contrast to the actually anti-authoritarian orientation of the movement, this part now seriously and not only in a pop-cultural reflection, as the majority of the previous year had still been the case, the greats of communism as heroes.

Theorization and militarization

The fragmentation and radicalization that took place became more and more detached from the real political and social processes in the course of time. While the protests against the emergency laws had a direct cause, most of the issues raised by the movement from autumn 1968 onwards were actually abstract political concepts and often personal internal issues. In and with the public there was hardly any more discussion, as there was hardly any possibility of understanding the political goals when pregnant with theory.

In the largely internal discourse of the APO, the question of the legitimacy of violence was answered increasingly aggressively: the level of violence demanded and also practiced increased significantly after the Dutschke attack. The “ Battle on Tegeler Weg ” in Berlin in November 1968 represented a high point of the dispute . The rather spontaneously developing militancy of this demonstration was interpreted by some as proof that it was possible to measure and plan violence; they were no longer part of the partly non-violent and often academic tradition of the Frankfurt School or the theories about power and violence of Hannah Arendt .

The cheerful anti-authoritarian currents in the SDS disappeared by 1968, the fun guerrillas were replaced by the urban guerrillas, who were no longer in the mood for jokes. Incendiary bombs were found in Commune I as early as the winter of 1968/69 . The path of some into terrorism and towards the RAF was paved by events such as the 1969 attack on the Jewish community center in Berlin on November 9th. The attack served as a kind of watershed: a radical minority prepared to break off all bridges - including those to the fragmented extra-parliamentary opposition, which fairly unanimously rejected the attack - and to go illegally and towards terrorism. Others continued to try to bring fun and politics together through pudding assassinations (Commune I) and squatting .

The SPD begins protest

During the grand coalition in 1968, Willy Brandt , under the impression of the unrest at the demonstrations of the student movement, raged: “ Mob remains mob, even if there are young faces among them. Intolerance and terror, whether they come from the left or from the right, must not use freedom to destroy them. ”Some may originally have joined the SPD with the aim of infiltrating the party. Most of them are likely to have sought at least some changes in the sluggish People's Party. This led to a deep rift within the SPD, particularly during the time of the Schmidt government , but in the long term did not prevent the integration of most of the young people, some of whom would later take over the leadership of the party as “grandchildren”.

New social movements

The ideas of the '68 movement were also picked up by other groups that worked towards a civil society (partly until today): artists , women's movement , ecology and environmental protection movement , gay movement , Amnesty International , pacifist groups , Easter marches , apprenticeship movement , squatters , Gray panthers , citizens' initiatives (e.g. district groups), young democrats / young leftists , young socialists . A practical implementation of some core ideas, which went far beyond the student milieu, came about. a. also in the red dot campaigns at the end of the 1960s and the beginning of the 1970s.

Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism

In connection with the publication of the book Die Bombe im Jüdisches Gemeindehaus by Wolfgang Kraushaar in 2005, a debate arose about the anti-Zionism of the 1968 movement, which some observers described as an expression of latent anti-Semitism on the part of the German left. Kraushaar reconstructed the story of an attack planned by Dieter Kunzelmann on the community hall of Berlin Jews on November 9, 1969. According to critics, these findings put anti-Israeli tendencies of the New Left in a new light. The political scientist Martin Kloke, for example, named the anti-Zionist self-image of the SDS including the publication of Fatah - “military communiqués” on “successful” terrorist actions in Israel , the campaign against the Israeli ambassador Asher Ben-Nathan, the participation of representatives of the 1968 movement (such as the then SDS chairman Udo Knapp , today's MEP Daniel Cohn-Bendit or the former Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer ) at a PLO conference in December 1969 in Algiers , at which, according to Kloke, the " final victory over Israel" is said to have been sworn. The then Israeli ambassador, Asher Ben-Natan, was massively supported as a lecturer at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich by anti-Israeli left students. a. disturbed by chants “Asher Ben Napalm ”. Asher Ben-Natan then stated that he was reminded of the Nazi era . Numerous anti-Israel resistance groups and Palestine committees began to form, dozens of initiatives agitated against US imperialism and world Zionism and called for the destruction of the Zionist entity of Israel. Against this background, Kloke criticized Kraushaar by accusing him of refusing to refer to "the obvious correlations between new left anti-Zionism and traditional anti-Semitism for what they were and are: unvarnished manifestations of anti-Semitic obsessions." Gerd Koenen , on the other hand, dismissed the assumption that it was about a "primary hatred of Jews" that proves "the unbroken effectiveness of an anti-Semitic latency context" deep into the New Left.

Right-wing radicalism

Some former prominent protagonists of the West German student movement later switched to the right-wing and right-wing extremist spectrum, such as Horst Mahler , Bernd Rabehl , Günter Maschke and Reinhold Oberlercher . The question of the extent to which right-wing conceptions of thought already existed within the APO and to what extent the revolts of the sixties were solely a left-wing phenomenon has not yet been answered by research.

Today's discussion

While it was long recognized as a consensus that the international movement of 1968 brought positive innovations both politically (e.g. university reforms , the Greens , citizens' initiatives, ecology) and in the area of ​​everyday culture ( rock , pop, looser clothing conventions and liberalization of sexuality) , has always been a critical view, which is mainly represented by conservatives.

Accordingly, "The 68ers" with their utopias and experiments destroyed an "ideal" society (e.g. family ) of the 1950s, secondary virtues were thus forgotten, which is why Helmut Kohl also made an intellectual and moral turn towards conservative values when he took office and proclaimed morals.

Counter-criticism on the part of the 68ers is that the apparently ideal society has in reality concealed the falsehoods of the perpetrator generation (the time of National Socialism) through a need-to-know principle supported by the major churches . The “moral turn” had no effect because it was ultimately led to absurdity by the behavior of those responsible. Another thesis is that the so-called people's parties have not understood the events of that time, let alone processed them. Therefore, from the ranks of politics only blame was given.

Within the Catholic moral theology or social doctrine , the movement of 68 is given a clear complicity in today's social situation (breakdown of families, divorces, neglect ). This is mainly due to the fact that in the 1968 movement there was a redefinition of the previously valid values, that for example the intact family was declared to be broken by the 68ers.

The 68ers responded to these often ecclesiastical positions with the argument that it was precisely the bigoted handling of truth in questions of sexuality and the coming to terms with the Nazi past that enabled corrupt fellow travelers and perpetrators to remain in the highest positions in the Federal Republic of Germany ( " Under the gowns - mustard of 1000 years ").

From the left, the Greens involved in the government are accused of their pragmatism , which betrayed old ideals ; from the more conservative side, social upheavals, for example among young people, are often portrayed as the long-term consequences of 1968 and a model of society and an image of man are propagated that is again based on the time before. Parts of the women's movement also oppose the sexual liberation propagated by the 68s. A classification of the student movement in the intellectual-historical context of the 20th century poses the question of whether the phenomenon of 1968 can be counted in the pre-war period, a thesis that Albrecht Behmel advocates in his publication on the hysterical century , or as a new beginning of democracy in Germany after the first state was founded.

The egalitarian striving for equality of the 68ers and their predecessors ( French Revolution , German Revolution 1848/1849 ) and successors meets current neoconservative tendencies that are increasingly relying on self-defined elite concepts and " new bourgeoisie ".

See also


Overall representations

  • Thomas P. Becker, Ute Schröder: The student protests of the 60s. Archive guide, chronicle, bibliography. Böhlau, Cologne 2000. ( Review by Detlef Siegfried ( Memento from January 11, 2012 in the Internet Archive ), h-net.org, January 11, 2012)
  • Wolfgang Kraushaar (Ed.): Frankfurt School and Student Movement. From the message in a bottle to the Molotov cocktail. Volume 1: Chronicle. Volume 2: Documents. Volume 3: Articles and Commentaries, Index. Roger & Bernhard at Zweiausendeins, Frankfurt am Main 1998.
  • Gerhard Bauß: The student movement of the sixties in the Federal Republic and West Berlin. Pahl-Rugenstein, Cologne 1977, ISBN 3-7609-0320-7 .

Documents and own presentations

  • Gerd Koenen : The Red Decade. Our Little German Cultural Revolution 1967 pp. 117-136, 1977. Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne 2001, ISBN 3-462-02985-1 .
  • Peter Mosler: What we wanted, what we became. Evidence of the student revolt. Rowohlt, Reinbek near Hamburg 1988, ISBN 3-499-12488-2 .
  • Lutz Schulenburg (ed.): "Change life, change the world!" 1968 - documents and reports. Edition Nautilus, Hamburg 1998, ISBN 3-89401-289-7 .
  • Kai Hermann: The student revolt. Wegner, Hamburg 1967.
  • Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Reinhard Mohr: 1968. The last revolution that did not yet know about the ozone hole. Wagenbach, Berlin 1988, ISBN 3-8031-2161-2 .
  • Götz Aly : Our fight. 1968 - an irritated look back. Fischer, Berlin 2008, ISBN 978-3-10-000421-5 .

Partial aspects

  • Werner Thole , Leonie Wagner, Dirk Stederoth (eds.): "The long summer of revolt". Social work and education in the early 1970s. Springer VS, Wiesbaden 2020, ISBN 978-3-658-28178-6 .
  • Ulrike Heider: Birds are nice. The sex revolt of 1968 and what remains of it. Rotbuch, Berlin 2014, ISBN 978-3-86789-196-7 .
  • Albrecht Behmel : 1968 - The children of the revolution: The myth of the student movement in the context of the history of ideas of the "hysterical century" 1870 to 1968. Hanover 2011, ISBN 978-3-8382-0203-7 .
  • Friedrich Koch: Sexuality and Education. Between taboo, repressive desublimation and emancipation. In: Yearbook for Pedagogy 2008: 1968 and the new restoration. Frankfurt am Main 2009, pp. 117ff.
  • Susanne Kailitz: From words to weapons? Frankfurt School, Student Movement, RAF and the Question of Violence. Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden 2007, ISBN 978-3-531-14560-0 .
  • Detlef Siegfried: Time is on my side. Consumption and Politics in West German Youth Culture of the 1960s. Wallstein, Göttingen 2006, ISBN 3-8353-0073-3 .
  • Ulrike Heider : Student protest in the Federal Republic of Germany. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1984.
  • Michael Ruetz : “You just have to look this guy in the face” - APO Berlin 1966–1969. Two thousand and one, Frankfurt 1980.
  • Günter Amendt: On the sexual-political development after the anti-authoritarian school and student movement. In: Hans-Jochen Gamm , Friedrich Koch (Ed.): Balance of Sexual Education. Frankfurt am Main 1977, pp. 17-38.

Web links

Commons : German student movement of the 1960s  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Representations of left groups

Single receipts

  1. Gerhard Bauß: The student movement of the sixties. Cologne 1977, p. 16
  2. ^ Tilman Fichter: SDS and SPD. Partiality beyond the party. Westdeutscher Verlag, Opladen 1988, ISBN 3-531-11882-X , p. 17f. and 246-354; Hans Karl Rupp: Extra-parliamentary opposition in the Adenauer era. Pahl-Rugenstein, Cologne 1980
  3. Gerhard Bauß: The student movement of the sixties. Cologne 1977, p. 17
  4. Ingrid Gilcher-Holtey: The 68er movement. Germany, Western Europe, USA. 5th edition, Munich 2017, p. 17f.
  5. Anna von der Goltz: Of old fighters, sexy elected girls and angry young women . Reflections on the relationship between generationality , gender and popular culture in the moderate right-wing camp around 1968. In: Lu Seegers (ed.): Hot Stuff. Gender , pop culture and generationality in Western and Eastern Europe after 1945 (=  Dirk Schumann [Hrsg.]: Göttinger Studies on Generational Research . Volume 19 ). Wallstein-Verlag, Göttingen 2015, ISBN 978-3-8353-1743-7 ( limited preview in Google book search).
  6. Torben Fischer, Matthias N. Lorenz (ed.): Lexicon of 'Coping with the Past' in Germany: Debate and Discourse History of National Socialism after 1945. 3rd edition, transcript, Bielefeld 2015, ISBN 3-8376-2366-1 , p. 178f.
  7. ^ Rainer Eckert, Bernd Faulenbach: On the way to civil society? Myth and reality of the 60s and 70s in East and West. Klartext, 2003, ISBN 3-89861-180-9 , p. 56.
  8. Martin Sabrow, Ralph Jessen, Klaus Große Kracht (eds.): Contemporary history as a history of controversy: Great controversies after 1945. Beck, Munich 2003, ISBN 3-406-49473-0 , p. 49
  9. ^ Stephan Alexander Glienke: Success story of the Federal Republic? Post-war society in the long shadow of National Socialism. Wallstein, 2008, ISBN 3-8353-0249-3 , p. 197
  10. ^ Peter Dohms, Johann Paul: The student movement of 1968 in North Rhine-Westphalia. Rheinlandia, 2008, ISBN 3-938535-53-9 , pp. 81f.
  11. Dae Sung Jung: The fight against the press empire: The anti-Springer campaign of the 68 movement. transcript, Bielefeld 2016, ISBN 3-8376-3371-3 , pp. 47–59.
  12. Gerhard Fürmetz (Ed.): Schwabinger Krawalle: Protest, Police and Public at the beginning of the 1960s, 1962. Klartext, 2006, ISBN 3898615138 , pp. 25–57
  13. Stephan Braese: Inventory - Studies on Group 47. Erich Schmidt Verlag 1999, ISBN 3-503-04936-3 , p. 139 and fn. 121; Pp. 149-151 and fn. 174.
  14. ^ Arnd Krüger : A Cultural Revolution? The Boycott of the European Athletics Championships by the West German Team in Athens 1969, in: European Committee for Sports History (Ed.): Proceedings Fourth Annual Conference . Volume 1. Florence: Universitá 1999, 162 - 166.
  15. Ingrid Gilcher-Holtey: The 68er movement. Germany - Western Europe - USA. 3rd edition, Beck, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-406-47983-9 , pp. 20-22.
  16. Ingrid Gilcher-Holtey: The 68er movement. Germany - Western Europe - USA. Munich 2001, pp. 22-24.
  17. Nikolai Wehrs: Protest of the professors: The "Bund Freiheit der Wissenschaft" in the 1970s. Wallstein, 2014, p. 72f.
  18. Nikolai Wehrs: Protest of the professors: The "Bund Freiheit der Wissenschaft" in the 1970s. Wallstein, 2014, pp. 68f.
  19. ^ Willy Albrecht: The Socialist German Student Union (SDS). From party-conforming student association to representative of the new left. Dietz Successor, Bonn 1994, p. 298f.
  20. ^ Willy Albrecht: The Socialist German Student Union (SDS) , Bonn 1994, pp. 453–455; Marcuse's presentation can be found in: neue kritik No. 36/37 from July / August 1966, pp. 30 - 40; Reprinted in Wolfgang Kraushaar (ed.), Frankfurt School and Student Movement . From the message in a bottle to the Molotov cocktail 1946 - 1995. Vol. 2: Documents. Rogner & Bernhard bei Zweiausendeins: Hamburg, 1998 2 ( ISBN 3-8077-0346-2 ; table of contents ), pp. 205–209.
    Discussions that took place within the SDS about the congress are documented in: SDS-Korrespondenz , vol. 1, no. 2, June 1966; Retro digitization (of the individual pages as image files) + searchable, short descriptions of the content of the individual texts: https://www.mao-projekt.de/BRD/ORG/SDS/SDS-Korrespondenz/SDS-Korrespondenz_1966_02.shtml ( archive ).
  21. Ingrid Gilcher-Holtey: Die 68er Bewegungs , Munich 2017, pp. 7-10.
  22. Conceptor says: dispossess Axel Caesar Springer! In: Berliner Extrablatt ( ZDB entry: https://ld.zdb-services.de/resource/40331-3 ). May 13, 1967.
  23. Jürgen Wilke: Put under pressure. Four chapters of German press history p. 185
  24. ^ Rudolf Augstein: Lex Springer . In: Der Spiegel , August 1, 1966
  25. Uwe Soukup: How did Benno Ohnesorg die? Pp. 134-137
  26. The Declaration of the Fourteen . In: Die Zeit , April 19, 1968
  27. WE CALL FOR THE DISAPPROPRIATION OF AXEL SPRINGER . In: Der Spiegel . No. 29 , 1967, p. 31 ( online ).
  28. See also:
    • Jochen Staadt, Tobias Voigt, Stefan Wolle: Feind-Bild Springer. A publishing house and its opponents p. 136 ff.
    such as
    • Gottfried Oy: Searching for Traces of the New Left. (pdf) The example of the Socialist Bureau and its magazine on the left . Socialist newspaper (1969 to 1997). Rosa Luxemburg Foundation (editor), March 2007, p. 18 , archived from the original on April 9, 2020 ; accessed on April 9, 2020 (75 pages; 2.8 MB). : “1967, after the murder of Benno Ohnesorgs, the connections to the SDS also become closer. With the call for the resignation of Heinrich Albertz, the Governing Mayor of Berlin, supported by the campaign, the synchronization of KfA and SDS policy begins, so to speak. The next step is to support the SDS 'dispossessed Springer' campaign. "
  29. Terrorist action against newspaper branches ( Memento from December 26, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 759 kB) In: Berliner Illustrierte , February 3, 1968
  30. Stop the terror of the young reds now! . ( Memento from October 25, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) In: BILD , February 7, 1968
  31. Michael Gehler: Germany: from division to unification. 1945 to today , p. 207
  32. Lost Weekend . In: Der Spiegel , No. 17/1968
  33. cit. n. Hans-Peter Schwarz: Axel Springer. The biography , p. 467
  34. Two forgotten victims of 1968 ( memento from June 6, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) BR-online, March 18, 2008; on the course of the protest in Munich see also Stefan Hemler: Munich '68 - was there something? Considerations for researching the student movement on the basis of significant marginalia. In: 1999. Journal for Social History of the 20th and 21st Century. 13, H. 2, 1998, ISSN  0930-9977 , pp. 117-136.
  35. Peter Koch: Willy Brandt. A political biography . Berlin, Frankfurt am Main 1988, p. 302.
  36. Martin Kloke: Anti-Semitic Obsessions . taz.de - Archive.
  37. Gerd Koenen: Conjectures about Fritz - How anti-Semitic was the left? Reading the new book by Wolfgang Kraushaar, which looks for questionable roots in German terrorism of the 1970s.
  38. Cf. Steven Heimlich: Historical revisionism as an instrument of the “New Right” using the example of the 1968 movement , Mag.-Arb. Univ. Oldenburg 2008 ( online ).