Taking Back the Academy! History of Activism, History as Activism

By Jim Downs; Jennifer Manion | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3

Between Berlin and Berkeley, Frankfurt and San Francisco

The Student Movements of the 1960s in Transatlantic Perspective

MARTIN KLIMKE

"You, Mr. Senator, and your like, are just a bunch of criminal bandits. I have certainly not come here today to serve any of your dirty purposes." With these words, Karl-Dietrich Wolff, the former head of the Socialist German Student League (Sozialistischer Deutscher Studentenbund, SDS), proudly addressed Senator Strom Thurmond, chair of the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee, on March 14, 1969. "The least thing I could do here [...] is bring the message that the victories of the movement in the United States are considered our victories, that the repression against the radical movement in the United States which is being stepped up is repression against us. The economic and political interdependence of our societies has made international solidarity more than just a moral duty to speak up for the oppressed anywhere. [...] We know that we are not alone." 1 Wolff, who was subpoenaed to the hearing after a speech at George Washington University, the "official" reason being a visa irregularity, turned it into a political happening and simply left when he had had enough. As Philip Carter wrote in the Washington Post "Der Zirkus, which is German for circus, played briefly before the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee yesterday, but closed abruptly when its star performer stalked out of his act and into the Capitol's long history of showbiz. The sudden exit [...] made him the first witness ever to walk out of an open session of the subcommittee." 2

-35-

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