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Rudi Dutschke Demands the Expropriation of the Springer Press Empire (July 10, 1967)

In light of the role of the conservative press in the killing of Benno Ohnesorg, the charismatic student leader Rudi Dutschke justifies the protests and demands the expropriation of Axel Springer, the owner of the tabloid BILD-Zeitung and a staunch anti-Communist and critic of the student radicals.

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We Demand the Expropriation of Axel Springer

[ . . . ]

DUTSCHKE: Demonstrations and protests are a preliminary stage in the process of making a person [politically] aware. We need to raise people’s consciousness more and more and mobilize them politically. This means bringing them over to the antiauthoritarian camp, which presently consists of only a few thousand students. And we have to do more than simply protest. We have to move on to direct actions.

SPIEGEL: What are direct actions?

DUTSCHKE: I’d have to start by describing the specific situation in Berlin.

SPIEGEL: Go right ahead.

DUTSCHKE: First there’s the situation at the Free University – overcrowded seminars, declining educational standards, professors overwhelmed by the bureaucracy, the threat of shortening the length of study and compulsory removal from the university, restrictive policies by the university administration, and last but not least increases in student fees. This has led many students to assume a strongly antiauthoritarian psychological disposition.

SPIEGEL: But this was not the only cause. You and a whole series of radical-minded students made this basic mood popular.

DUTSCHKE: Yes. We tried to use systematic instruction to politically inform students about their situation – through informative events and various forms of demonstrations. But to this is added the general situation in West Berlin, which has been clear since the death of Benno Ohnesorg, at the latest: a headless senate, an undemocratized police department – the consequence of decades of training for the Cold War. Furthermore: the Berlin parties, as in the Federal Republic, have lost contact with the people. Berlin as a city is politically dead. It never took advantage of its historical chance to be a mediator between East and West.

SPIEGEL: And now students want to pursue the lacking policy?

DUTSCHKE: Why not? We students have a chance that mass society is systematically denied. We can render the specifically human power of intellect as critical reason. This means politicizing the university as a departure point for the politicization and, thereby, the transformation of society.

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