A resolution calling upon Kiesinger to resign was
passed by three-fourths of the meeting. Both the East and the West German
newspapers reported it. I took the risk of publicly announcing my intention to
slap Kiesinger because I had to make sure that people knew the symbolic gesture
I was planning had been premeditated. I had a feeling that such a gesture would
deeply stir the Germans. |
The following evening I took a train to Bonn.
We planned to descend on the capital the next day to protest the coming vote on
the "law of exception" that would give the Chancellor dictatorial power in the
event of disorders, and the East German government 1ad put at the disposal of
the "Committee for Preserving Democracy" an eight-hundred-seat train. However,
the young people showed they were as critical of East Germany's government as
of West Germany's. When the train stopped at or passed through East German
railway stations, they shouted at the top of their lungs such slogans as
"Bureaucracy leads to Fascism and Stalinism," and "Turn communists into good
The West Germans were stupefied as they watched the train
go by. It was the first time since the cold war began that a train bristling
with red flags had crossed the Federal Republic to the shouts of "Capitalism
means Fascism," and "Citizens, don't watch us, Join us," and "SPD and CDU,
hands off the Constitution." Also, quite often, "Kiesinger is a Nazi."
There was some concern that our train would wind up on a siding, but
the police avoided any clash. About 8 A.M. we pulled into the Bonn station.
Forty thousand demonstrators had been expected, but sixty thousand showed up.
The next day barricades sprang up like thorny hedgerows all over
Paris. The great conflagration of the "days of May" had begun.
undertook to organize a Franco-German Action Committee at the Sorbonne and
mounted a display of photographs of the demonstrations in Germany and the
police repression of them. My purpose was to make the young French understand
the battle a minority of young Germans were waging against the resurgence of
Nazism and for the rehabilitation of an entire people. I quickly realized,
however, that the French students were interested only in their own problems.
Nevertheless, it seemed to me that the contest in Germany, not the one in
France, was of paramount importance because the Federal Republic had external
problems, such as its relations with East Germany and other Eastern Euro