act and disapproved of the sentence; others condemned
both what I had done and the sentence I had gotten. There were plenty of heated
arguments among the newspaper editors as well as on street corners. Even
children were talking about it, for the slap had called into question the
sacrosanct nature of authority: whether one should respect a man because he is
Chancellor or because he is a man of integrity. |
On the Eastern side of
the Wall, there were shouts of joy. My statement was broadcast over both radio
and television in the German Democratic Republic. On the day after the slap, a
camera crew came to film me in West Berlin.
All of the East German
headlines were approximately the same: "In the name of millions of victims,
B.K. has symbolically slapped that old Nazi Kiesinger" or "For killing a Jew,
one day in jail; for slapping a Chancellor, one year."
On the day of my
return to Paris, thirty six hours after the slap, Interflora delivered a bunch
of red roses. The card read: "Thanks Heinrich Böll." I wanted to laugh and
cry at the same time. Böll, the Catholic novelist so sensitive to human
passions and so full of genuine and powerful feelings, approved of me.
I did not have to pay for the publication of my sentence in six
newspapers, as judge Drygalla had decreed. It appeared that the Chancellor had
no wish whatever to see his career under Hitler spread all over the front
pages, and Der Spiegel satirically remarked: "Chancellor Kiesinger has
saved B.K. 50,000 marks."
I still had a long way to go. Serge called
that to my attention:
"You're just like one of those actors who get
famous for the character they play in a television serial. You've got to get
away from being typed like that by playing other parts just as well, if not
better. Not everyone can do that."
It was a question not only of my
future, but of our battle. I resolved to go on.