The Other Alliance: Student Protest in West Germany and the United States in the Global Sixties

By Martin Klimke | Go to book overview

Chapter 3
BUILDING THE SECOND FRONT
THE TRANSATLANTIC ANTIWAR ALLIANCE

OVERCOMING ISOLATIONISM:
THE INTERNATIONAL EFFORTS OF THE AMERICAN SDS, 1966–68

When American exchange student and SDS member Ruven Brooks enrolled himself at the University of Freiburg in Germany in the fall of 1966, he was astonished. Having just arrived from the United States and its heated domestic atmosphere, he found that the

German political constellation has a rather frightening resemblance
to the American:… On the left there’s a pacifist element, represented
by the Easter Marchers and the Campaign for Disarmament as well
as the Marxist-dominated German peace party—about the same axis
as SPU [and] SANE. There’s a doctrinaire Marxist element, repre-
sented by uncountable splinter elements along YPSL, YSA, PL etc
line. The German equivalent of the NAACP-type civil rights move-
ment is the opposition to the “laws of necessity.”1

Probing deeper and starting “an investigation of German left-wing groups for one which resembles the [American] SDS viewpoint,” Brooks was, however, unable to identify an exact “New Left of the SDS-SNCC sort.” One of the most promising candidates he found was the German SDS: “True to its initials, the latter looks like the best bet; it seems a bit doctrinaire Marxist but moving in the right (left!) direction.”2

By the mid-sixties, the close political and ideological affinity between the German and American SDS had greatly strengthened the two groups’ institutional relations. The American SDS, however, was by no means as keen on extending international connections as its German counterpart, since many in the group still considered domestic issues and the shortcomings of the U.S. system itself to be the main target of their activism. Accordingly, the organization’s periodical, the New Left Notes (NLN) merely registered international New Left activities and seldom commented upon them, except to emphasize and boost the importance of participation in events taking place within the United States.3 A similar mood reigned at national meetings. At the national convention in Ann Arbor, Mich., from June 25 to July 2, 1967, not only did the SDS decide

-75-

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The Other Alliance: Student Protest in West Germany and the United States in the Global Sixties
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Abbreviations ix
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1- SDS Meets SDS 10
  • Chapter 2- Between Berkeley and Berlin, Frankfurt and San Francisco the Networks and Nexus of Transnational Protest 40
  • Chapter 3- Building the Second Front the Transatlantic Antiwar Alliance 75
  • Chapter 4- Black and Red Panthers 108
  • Chapter 5- The Other Alliance and the Transatlantic Partnership 143
  • Chapter 6- Student Protest and International Relations 194
  • Conclusion 236
  • Notes 247
  • Sources 325
  • Index 329
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