The Ironies of History

Back last November, I posted up a review of the film The Baader-Meinhof Complex on Cedar Lounge Revolution. An excellent film it was too, and I think it will be on Sky Movies soon for anyone who has Sky Movies and hasn’t see it. The film recreated the shooting of a student protestor, Benno Ohnesorg, by a policeman in west Berlin during protests against a visit by the Shah. For many students in the Extra-Parliamentary Opposition, this was the moment that the repressive nature of the state was finally revealed, and it radicalised many, and contributed to the dynamic that led to the emergence of the Red Army Faction. And now it transpires that the policeman who shot the student, Karl-Heinz Kurras (who was twice acquitted of manslaughter), was a member of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany, the ruling party of the GDR, and was working for the Stasi as an agent in west Berlin.

While some have claimed that this means the GDR was responsible, the director of the Federal government’s Stasi archives, points out that not only is there no evidence that the Stasi ordered the shooting, but that the Stasi cut contacts with Kurras afterwards. Presumably this was for fear of a revelation that he was an agent raising military tensions on the front line of the Cold War. While there will be those who construct a conspiracy theory around this revelation, it seems to me unlikely that this was anything more than what the Stasti called it – an “unlucky accident”.

Herr Kurras had a simple response when contacted by the press about these revelations

“And what if I did work for them? What does it matter? It doesn’t change anything.”

I admire his bluntness, and I’m inclined to agree.

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