"It was never about illegality as such, rather the promotion of
free communication and the conveyance of radical political
- Interview With A Radikal Group, 1989
On June 13, 1995, federal police in Germany carried out a major coup against left-radical structures. At six in the morning, around 50 homes and leftist projects all across Germany were stormed. The mainstream media praised the action as a "blow to terrorist groups", spewing forth the cops' line that the raids were directed against the Anti-Imperialist Cell (AIZ), the group K.O.M.I.T.E.E., and the illegal magazine 'Radikal'. The usual stigma of "terrorist group" was attached, justified with Paragraphs 129 and 129a. Standard pig procedure. It's a part of German reality to have homes being stormed, children rousted from their beds by masked cops with guns, weapons pointed at the heads of individuals whose "only" crime was their work on a left-radical newspaper. Even on the suspicion of simply distributing Radikal, people were terrorized all over the country, from Berlin to Hamburg to Cologne. This was the biggest raid on the German left in years - the Kurds, of course, have been subjected to such treatment on several occasions recently.
That night on the TV, there was little mention any more about the AIZ or the K.O.M.I.T.E.E. Hell, we haven't enjoyed so much publicity in a long time, as images were flashed of the cops' Radikal archives, followed by a report of the arrest of 4 people for "membership in a criminal organization", Radikal. Investigations are continuing against 21 other individuals on the same charge. So we felt this was reason enough for people to hear from us between issues. Sorry it took so long for this to happen, but these things take time, as anyone familiar with inter-regional structures knows.
We won't try to make the intensity of this repression or our status in the left-radical scene seem any greater than it really is. We always knew such a raid would happen at some point. But it is surprising that such a hard action against a publishing project could be carried out without so much as a peep from the "left- liberal public". It's characteristic of the continuity of the repression against leftist structures, even in times when the radical-left is weak. The BAW [federal prosecutor's office] had just finished in their failed attempt to criminalize Gottingen's Autonome Antifa (M) under Paragraph 129, and let's not forget the cop raids and the banning of the Kurdistan Information Bureau in Cologne because it published "pro-PKK" paper 'Kurdistan Rundbrief', so now they decided to go against other organized structures of the radical-left in Germany - on the same day as a Nazi letterbomb terror attack on an SPD politician in Lubeck.
It's clear that these raids weren't just aimed at us. We were just a convenient excuse. "The action was an aimed preventive measure designed to deter the left-radical scene", said interior minister and deportation specialist Kanther that same evening. While right-wing terror grows worse and the consensus of social democrats/greens/conservatives in Great Germany is ready to send the Bundeswehr on its first foreign mission, it seems clear that the real threat is still the left. The message being sent is clear, and by lumping together the AIZ, K.O.M.I.T.E.E., and Radikal, it is that much easier to criminalize the entire left.
We produce and distribute a magazine. A magazine which, in a time of state control and self-censorship, is a forum for a discussion of street militancy and armed struggle. Of course, we aren't "neutral" in this discussion. We fundamentally reject the notion that the state has a monopoly on the legitimate use of force. The existing social conditions can only be changed if left-radical groups and associations build up their abilities and structures so as to be able to counter some of these effects even today. This, of course, includes militant and armed intervention, but these would be empty gestures if there wasn't also some sort of linkage or means of conveying their message. Of course, we are very happy when militant anti-fascist initiatives disrupt Nazi meetings. So we also see one of our functions as exposing fascist structures so as to make both old and new Nazis attackable, and we think this is one very important aspect of anti-fascist work.
Of course, it would have been awesome if the cover of our next issue had had a big picture of the new deportation prison in Berlin-Grunau reduced to rubble. All people who seek to intervene and oppose Germany's refugee policies would have been overjoyed at this disruption of the state's deportation machinery. A radical-left which takes the past 25 years of its history seriously must discuss the successes and failures of the various armed and militant groups, such as the RAF, the 2nd of June Movement, the Revolutionary Cells, and militant autonomist groups, and it must draw consequences for the future from this discussion.
In order that we don't just keep looking back at our history, but rather so that we keep up to date with actual developments, it's important that we be active in current anti-fascist initiatives or, for example, discuss the politics of the AIZ, of whom we are very critical. We must continually fight for the necessary space to carry out such discussions and defend ourselves from state attacks. Radikal tries to do jut that, no more, no less. We try to make it possible for various structures to have a means of being heard on a regular basis. It's seem like we're stating the obvious when we say that the cop attacks on Radikal are, at the same time, a criminalization of other leftist structures which provide this necessary space, like infoshops and other magazines for example.
The present attacks on us, however, are qualitatively different than past repressive campaigns for two fundamental reasons. Firstly, we have now been declared a "criminal organization", and secondly, it has now been stated that Radikal has "entirely criminal content". A look back at the last few issues, therefore, will reveal what criminal means: new anti-racist street names in Braunschweig, articles on nationalism and the liberation struggle in Kurdistan, an analysis of the history of patriarchal gender divisions, an appeal from non-commercial radio stations, debates about leftist campaigns surrounding the May 8th commemorations...that's criminal content? Before, the authorities used to point out specific articles which "supported a terrorist organization" so as to criminalize them,. Now the cops don't want to go through all that trouble so they have just called the entire project a "criminal organization", therefore the content must be criminal, too. But it's the mixture of theory and actual attacks, discussion and practical tips, which makes Radikal so interesting to read for so many people. And we value this mixture. Radikal aims to mobilize people to oppose Nazis and to stop the Castor nuclear waste shipments, while at the same time giving information about debates on anti-nationalism or the background of the origins of capitalist and patriarchal social structures. What's more, it should offer space for people from even the most remote corners of Germany to discuss their actions or their difficulties, things which have been ignored for far too long by a jaded left fixated on the metropoles. The federal police have called this mixture criminal.
If you listen to what the cops say about all of this, it sounds like some sort of cheesy novel. We are supposedly organized in a "highly conspiratorial manner" with "fixed organizational structures". It seems that really banal things are actually dangerous. Anyone who produces a magazine needs "fixed organizational structures", they need to sit down together and talk about what should go into the next issue and how to distribute the magazine, mail out subscriptions, write articles, answer letters from readers, and so on and so forth. The only difference between us and normal, legal magazines is the fact that we have removed ourselves from state control, out of the reach of the censorship authorities. Over the years, we have built up an organizational structure which allows us to distribute a relatively high number of magazines nation-wide, by radical-left standards that is. As with other groups who seek to build up open or hidden structures, we are subject to state repression. From their point of view, the BAW had good reason to act now, since all their previous actions against us had been fruitless. Radikal kept being published, and there was nothing they could do about it.
In 1982, about 20 homes, bookstores, and printing shops were raided in an attempt to prosecute Radikal for "supporting a terrorist organization". In 1984, 2 supposed editors of the paper were sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison, but they avoided going to the slammer by getting elected to the European Parliament for the Greens. In 1991, the federal prosecutor exchanged the jail terms for a fine. The next step came in 1986, when Radikal was already organized underground. Now, 100 homes and shops were raided by the cops. Nearly 200 court cases were opened, and in the end 5 people were given suspended sentences of 4-10 months. The wave of repression in 1986 - in addition to the obvious aims of scaring people and just being repressive - had one major aim, namely to drive Radikal out of the public realm and to lessen its effectiveness. But that didn't succeed. Despite the fact that several book stores, most of which dated back to Radikal's legal days, backed out on us and left us with heavy debts, work on Radikal and its distribution became much more decentralized. A network of groups and individuals took up responsibility for the magazine, based on their conditions. In 1989, the state authorities went into action one more time after ID-Verlag in Amsterdam published an interview with us as a brochure.
The latest moves by the BAW have again made it clear that claims by the mainstream media and left-liberals concerning armed groups - "Your attacks make it possible for the state to turn the screws of repression even tighter!" - are total crap. Even the cease-fire from the guerrilla did not open up any "new levels of social debate". The defenders of law and order are continuing to act against left-radical groups, who are all equally defined as dangerous, and these are attacked at the same high level.
4 people are now in prison! We can't just forget that fact. In any case, that's why we'd like to call for exchange and communication with the solidarity groups. The charges against the 4 are as follows: They produced and distributed Radikal. But who actually "produces" Radikal? Those people who send in reports of antifa actions, or is it those people that take 10 copies and give them to their friends to read, or maybe it's those people that write a few articles and do some lay-out, or maybe it's the people that see to it that a few copies get into the prisons? Or maybe the BAW thinks it's those people that discuss for weeks on end which articles should go in the next issue of Radikal? Or is the ones who stand for long hours behind the printing presses?
We're not really sure who exactly the cops are referring to when they talk about Radikal, but we know they really mean all of us! All people who see the continued need for radical-left structures for discussion and communication, away from state control and the apparatus of repression. And all people who recognize the need for women and men to become organized to avoid being swallowed up by capitalist and patriarchal reality. That's why it's the task for all of us to not accept this attack nor to let it go unanswered.
We need an uncontrollable resistance media!
Read, use, distribute, and stay Radikal!
Powerful greetings to Rainer, Ralf, Werner, and Andreas!
Free the prisoners!
The teeth will show whose mouth is open!
some Radikal groups - Summer 1995
translation: Arm The Spirit