Dutschke family wants case reopened after Stasi discovery

Dutschke family wants case reopened after Stasi discovery
Photo: DPA
The son of the late West German student leader Rudi Dutschke wants a new investigation into the 1968 assassination attempt on his father’s life after the discovery that a Stasi agent was responsible for the death of another student.

Marek Dutschke told the press agency DPA in an interview published Saturday that the April 11, 1968 attempt on his father’s life by right-wing extremist Josef Bachmann should be re-examined for signs of possible influence from Eastern German secret police.

“Rudi also had his enemies over there,” Dutschke told DPA.

A growing chorus has called for Germany to probe deeper into the Stasi’s role in West German politics after the revelations that West Berlin police officer Karl-Heinz Kurras, who shot and killed 26-year-old student Benno Ohnesorg in 1967 was an informant for the East German secret police and a member of the East German Communist party.

The killing made Ohnesorg a leftist martyr and fueled explosive student protests against what they saw as a repressive West German state in the following years, culminating in the violent terrorist acts of the Red Army Faction, which sought to destabilise West Germany for nearly two decades.

Dutschke survived the attack but died in 1979 from complications related to his injuries. Bachmann, Dutschke’s assailant, committed suicide in prison and never revealed where he got his weapon from or whether he received outside support, Dutschke’s widow Gretchen Dutschke told DPA.

She said her husband was followed by both western and eastern European intelligence services and that he once had “unpleasant contacts” that included threats from agents. Gretchen Dutschke said Rudi Dutschke was seen as a “thorn in the side” on both sides of the Iron Curtain and had also been spied upon by the Stasi.

The archive for Stasi files should research the assassination attempt for signs of possible Stasi involvement, said Marek Dutschke. The Kurras case shows that there are surprises in the hundreds of kilometers of records kept by the secret police force, he said.

Marek Dutschke welcomed the effect the Kurras case was having on the historical evaluation of East Germany.

“It’s good for all of those people who believe that East Germany was the better Germany and not an unjust state,” Dutschke said. This year, Germany is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the collapse of the East German regime, which led to the 1990 reunification of the two countries.

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