Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Spies among us...

Do you recognize this picture?

courtesy of the newspaper Sueddeutsche

If you were living in Germany around 1967, this picture is iconic to you and undoubtedly influenced history.

The man above is Benno Ohnesorg, a West German university student killed during a demonstration.

The story was that a law-and-order West German Police officer shot and killed this man. However, recent events have told a slightly different story. The police officer accused of killing him was recently found to be an East German spy employed by the Stasi.

Benno Ohnesorg became a martyr of sorts and demonstrations in Germany became more frequent and more violent. Average people, especially students, who didn't get involved suddenly found themselves impassioned to join the resistance. Radical groups like the Red Army Faction justified their violent actions using his death. This picture was a turning point, as far as I can tell, to mold West Germany at the time to its path of greater democracy.

Although the NY Times also did an article on this turning point in history, I found this story orginally in a German newspaper. I have to admit, I am finding it very interesting to be exposed to news from a variety of sources and I am a sucker for history stories like this.

I have to ask, what else will found in the Stasi archives, even after 20 years?

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