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

By Martin Klimke | Go to book overview

Chapter 4
BLACK AND RED PANTHERS

“As I LISTENED to Stokely’s words, cutting like a switch-blade, accusing the enemy as I had never heard him accused before, I admit that I felt the cathartic power of his speech. But I also wanted to know where to go from there.”1 With these words, Angela Davis remembers the speech of one of the leading figures of the Black Power movement in the United States, Stokely Carmichael, during the two-week congress “Dialectics of Liberation” in London in July 1967. For Davis, who later became an icon of the African American protest movement, this encounter proved to be formative for her political development. Together with Angela Davis, a delegation of the German SDS from Frankfurt had also arrived in London. The German representatives were equally impressed by Carmichael’s appearance. As the German publisher Bernward Vesper reflects in his autobiographical novel fragment The Journey, “Berlin, and June 2 [the killing of the German student Benno Ohnesorg by a policeman] are nothing but sandbox games next to the manifestation of the colored races, for which the question of violence is not a question, since they have been living under the violence of racist whites for centuries…. How much does one dead person count for the liberation movements in the Third World, where they count hundreds and thousands of deaths each day?”2

The influence of the African American Black Power struggle on the West German protest movement not only consisted in the creation of a transnational protest identity, but also substantially shaped the formation and dynamics of the student activists’ ideological position. For parts of the West German movement, Black Power appeared to be fulfilling Che Guevara’s foco theory as much as Herbert Marcuse’s minority theory and epitomized the liberation from imperialism and capitalism from within the First World. In this context, the model of colonial conflicts developed by Frantz Fanon and adapted under this perspective was of great consequence: West German activists adopted the Black Panthers’ interpretation that viewed the black population as an “internal colony” of the United States, which could liberate itself from oppression only through the use of violence. This interpretation was strengthened by an anti-imperialism accelerated by the escalation of the war in Vietnam, which, for parts of the West German movement, linked the United States and its foreign policy semiotically to the crimes of National Socialism. In a reversal of the offi-

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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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