Street-Fighting Men

Posted by John Rosenthal

Joschka Fischer’s past as a Frankfurt street-fighter has again caught up with him. For the second time in five years, Fischer has been called as a witness to testify about his experiences in Frankfurt’s anarcho-lefty "scene" during the 1970s. The first time was in the 2001 trial that saw former Fischer friend Hans-Joachim Klein convicted for his part in a terrorist attack on a 1971 OPEC meeting in Vienna during which three people were killed.


The Wednesday (22 March 2006) edition of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) reports:

Fischer, on Tuesday called as a witness in a civil suit opposing the Frankfurt music producer Ralf Scheffler and the Munich-based weekly Focus, seemed to be still impressed by his experience of the precision required by the justice system. His way out of the problem was the usual: you cannot later be accused of having spoken falsely what you do not say at all. Explaining that the events in question occurred thirty years ago, Fischer claimed hardly to remember that a so-called "Cleaning Group" [Putzgruppe] existed on the militant fringe of the Frankfurt anarcho-leftist scene. He is supposed, moreover, to have been the leader of the group. The civil suit revolves around this band of street fighters: later and with a certain self-irony labeled the "Proletarian Union for Terror and Destruction" [the initials give the acronym "PUTZ" in German – JR].


It is interesting to note who else is supposed to have formed part of Fischer’s Frankfurt circle of friends: notably, for example, the German diplomat Tom Koenigs, who is also scheduled to testify in the trial. The FAZ writes:

In his early years of inner turmoil, the banker’s son from Cologne is supposed to have bequeathed his inherited wealth to the Vietcong. Later, as a member of the Green party, he served as the environmental counselor of the city of Frankfurt. Koenigs is supposed also to have figured among "Fisherman’s Friends" as one strapped on one’s motorcycle helmet before encounters with the police. Afterwards at the bar, according to the former Green Party member Jutta Ditfurth, the guys bragged about their heroic deeds in the confrontations with the "pigs" [Bullen – literally "bulls"].


From 1999 to 2002, Tom Koenigs was Deputy Special Representative, responsible for civil administration, in the UN administration (UNMIK) in Kosovo. In December of last year, he was appointed UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Representative for Afghanistan.

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