Posted Sunday, January 7, 2001

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German Fischer was militant student, not guerrilla

by Emma Thomasson

BERLIN - German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer [wearing black helmet in photos] said on Wednesday that he had played a militant role in left-wing student protests in the 1970s but had opposed violent guerrilla tactics.

Officer down"Yes, I was militant. But I always rejected the armed struggle and fought it politically," Fischer told the Stern weekly in an interview due for publication on Thursday.

Fischer is due to testify in Frankfurt in two weeks as a character witness at the trial of a man charged with helping jailed guerrilla Carlos the Jackal to kidnap OPEC oil ministers in Vienna in 1975. Hans-Joachim Klein, 52, faces charges of kidnapping and involvement in the murder of two bodyguards and a delegate in the raid, the most spectacular attack by Carlos, a Venezuelan whose real name is Illich Ramirez Sanchez.

Fischer, now one of Germany's most popular politicians, knew Klein as a fellow member of the left-wing protest movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s, but said he had never considered following him and joining extreme leftist guerrilla groups.

"I always thought that was wrong, even suicidal," he said. "The whole time, for God's sake, we were working hard against this step to armed struggle, to terrorism."

Shown photographs which Stern magazine said depicted a masked Fischer attacking a police officer, the dapper foreign minister, now 52, said he had been involved in protest violence, but denied he had thrown petrol bombs or used a gun.

"We occupied houses and when they were supposed to be cleared we defended ourselves. We threw stones. We were beaten up but we also fought back strongly. I have never kept that a secret," he said.

Conservatives attack Militancy

Let's get out of here!Conservative opposition Christian Democrat Union party (CDU) said Fischer's admission meant he was not for high office. "Whoever behaved like that is no representative of a violence-free civil society. One cannot be foreign minister of Germany with such an attitude," Wolfgang Bosbach, the CDU's deputy parliamentary leader, told the Berliner Morgenpost daily.

Fischer rejected allegations that he had knowingly allowed Klein to use his car to transport weapons and said he had given the vehicle to his fellow protester to repair it.

"If I had known that he was going to use it to drive around with weapons I wouldn't have given him the car," he said. Fischer said he had been shocked when he saw an injured Klein on the front page of the newspaper after the OPEC kidnapping, but said he had not helped Klein to hide or supported him during Klein's decades underground.

Klein was shot in the stomach during the kidnapping but was treated and allowed to fly to Algiers with his accomplices and their hostages, who were released on payment of a ransom. He later took refuge in Libya before going underground.

Klein, who denies shooting during the kidnapping, was extradited in 1999 from France, where he had lived for 23 years under a false name. Fischer, who entered the German parliament in 1983 as a member of the ecologist Greens, said he had become disillusioned with the protest movement in 1976 when left-wing extremists who hijacked a plane singled out Jewish passengers.

© 2001 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

The photos have been added from a larger series published on the following website to which acknowledgment is made:

Upper picture shows helmeted Fischer beating the young police officer during a Marxist riot in Frankfurt's west-end. The officer is outnumnbered five to one and his helmet has been ripped off; lower picture shows Fischer (left) warning his fellow thugs that more police are coming.

David Irving comments:
David Irving  MANY is the time that I, on legitimate speaking and lecture tours of German universities and elsewhere, came up against armed, masked, violent mobs of Joschka Fischers, sometimes hundreds strong; in those days, the German police still acted to protected free speech, as was their duty under the German constitution. Then the poachers became the gamekeepers, and the terrorists started calling the shots. We recall Roger Boyes' recent story (in The Times of October 18, 2000) reporting from Berlin: "The State Prosecutor Volker Rath may broaden the case to include a 1981 killing of the regional politician Heinz Herbert Carry. The gun used to kill Herr Carry was found in the car of Joschka Fischer. The car had been delivered to Herr Klein for repairs." "Many of the 1968 student rebel generation," added Boyes, "who now form the political class, were friendly with people who later became terrorists." This is cowardly journalese for the statement that among modern German politicians are many who were terrorists in the 1960s.

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