and I had not been sued for slander. Nothing in our
book could be refuted. I have never stated anything I could not prove.
April 15. My hearing began. Once again I appeared before judges
for having slapped the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of West Germany.
The criminal court was a big, gloomy, massive, prewar building. It was
surrounded by thirty police cars so that no one could park there. Over a
thousand policemen were there, ready for war. Even the reporters had to pass
four checkpoints. But anyone hoping for an incident was disappointed. A
demonstration by anti-fascists that the police but not the young people
were expecting did not materialize. Under the circumstances, as I had
decided to be Kiesinger's prosecutor during the hearing, I had to fight my
battle with documentation that proved Kiesinger's Nazi activities, not with
incidents that would be ineffectual anyway. Arno, Serge, and Joseph Billig (the
historian who had helped me with my report) were there, along with thirty
photographers and dozens of reporters.
The following morning, the press
gave detailed descriptions of my hairdo, my knitted dress, and my spike-heeled
shoes. I had taken particular care to present my best Paris image as proof of
my comfortable financial situation and my middle-class lifestyle.
arguments opened with a request that the president of the tribunal, Taegener,
disqualify himself. My lawyer made the most of the fact that Taegener had
publicly stated to a reporter with whom he was having coffee in the court
canteen that my trial would be "over in three hours." After a short
deliberation the court denied the request.
I was questioned
exhaustively. The president of the tribunal, in his icily polite way, tried to
trip me up in my story. I gave him direct answers and, I think, managed to stay
out of his traps. One of my replies was repeated in the papers and on the
radio. It had come to me spontaneously, but as if a strange voice had uttered
it, the voice of all who, in my person, were standing before German justice.
"Frau Klarsfeld, how did you happen to decide to use violence against
the Chancellor of our country?"
"Violence, your honor, is the
imposition of a Nazi Chancellor on German youth."
I talked so much
about Kiesinger's Nazi past that Taegener grew