Violence Rehabilitated

Violence Rehabilitated

On Holy Thursday, 1968, a youth named Bachmann, an admirer of Hitler, shot and critically wounded Rudi Dutschke, the leader of a militant Berlin student group. As a result of this attempted murder, there were violent student demonstrations during Easter week. The following speech was delivered by Gunter Grass on May 1, 1968, in Hildesheim, and published in Der Spiegel, May 1968.

Ladies and gentlemen: Only a few years ago the Federal Republic presented the image of a humdrum middle-class society, characterized by hard work, security, law and order, and political lethargy.

And now suddenly the Germans have been seized with unrest. The younger generation, only yesterday well behaved and fully adjusted to the existing order, are in a turmoil; they protest, demonstrate, and laugh at the rules of our domesticated democracy. Their fathers pat them on the back and tell them they don’t realize how well off they are, but it doesn’t go down, because the chasm between the theory and the practice of government is open for all to see, and none of the usual cloaks are big enough to cover it.