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40/68 We Are Not Going to Defend Ourselves Before Such a Justice System! 1968 and the Courts

By Martin Klimke
Read the Full Contribution as a PDF

I have thrown a stone. But not at the uniformed men of the executive branch, but into the mills of justice, so to speak, because I refused to be milled into flour for the production of a law and order bread.

Fritz Teufel in the closing statement of his trial, December 15, 1967

I have already been in prison, and none of us is scared of that. It does not mean that much anymore if we do something, are charged, and then go to jail. The next day, 100, 200, 300, perhaps even more friends that took part turn themselves in to the police so that the individual is never singled out as an individual, so that he can simply be pocketed and destroyed, as in the past, by the bureaucracy and the state executive.

Rudi Dutschke, Interview with Gnter Gaus, December 3, 1967

A. Introduction

On November 29, 1967, Commune I member Fritz Teufel had to face his second day in a West Berlin courtroom. Teufel was charged with breaching the public peace for allegedly hurling stones at policemen during a demonstration against the visit of the Shah of Persia on June 2, 1967 the same event during which West German police officer Karl-Heinz Kurras killed twenty-six-year-old student Benno Ohnesorg with a shot to the head. When the judge entered the courtroom that day in late November, Teufel sat in the same spot in which only one week before Kurras had been acquitted of involuntary manslaughter for his actions on June 2. As everybody stood up, Teufel alone remained in his seat, leisurely browsing through the days newspaper. Only after the judge repeatedly urged him to stand up, stop his defiant behavior, and pay his respects to the court did Teufel slowly rise to his feet and utter a seemingly spontaneous and sardonic remark, which became a rallying cry for the mocking and disrespectful attitude of the student...