WHEREVER THEY MAY BE
© 1972, The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation
 
 
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[sev…] eral newspapers with blazing headlines. All their front pages were devoted to the previous day's incident, with many pictures showing the Chancellor with his face behind his hand or, a moment later, looking disgruntled and with his eyes hidden behind sunglasses. There were also pictures of me in my Cross-of-Lorraine coat, surrounded by policemen, or in the defendant's box leaning toward Mahler, or challenging Kiesinger in the Bundestag with my fists upraised.

The insult to the Chancellor eclipsed all other news. The word "slap" entered the German political vocabulary. All the front-page headlines featured the word.

In reporting Kiesinger's embarrassed opinion: "That woman goes around with university hooligans," and that of his spokesman, Günter Diehl: "She is a monomaniac about the Chancellor," the press gave even more space to my true motives: "She slapped the Chancellor because she wanted to reveal to the world his Nazi past and demonstrate German youth's refusal to have Germany represented by a former Nazi."

It was impossible to picture me convincingly as a hysterical woman. The work I had been doing for almost two years was beginning to pay off. I had written too much, spoken too many times, agitated too frequently for anyone to be able to pretend that I was just a hothead.

Back in Paris, only a few minutes after the incident, Serge had distributed to the press agencies a release that emphasized:

"By slapping Chancellor Kiesinger my wife committed an act long planned and premeditated, which aimed at stressing the Chancellor's Nazi past for the edification of German youth."

The statement I had recorded before I left Paris was broadcast over several stations that afternoon.


It became clear that the Germans were wondering how their Chancellor could have put himself into a position of being slapped because of his past, especially when he had so solemnly declared: "German youth has a right to know how their Chancellor stood during the Third Reich," but had not kept his word.

To the crime of lèse majesté combined with humiliation – a unique one in the annals of German history – now was added the scandal of the sentence: one year of imprisonment. The act itself and the Berlin court's reaction to it were going to encounter severe criticism during the weeks to come. Some people approved of my
    
   
 
WHEREVER THEY MAY BE
© 1972, The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation
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