A Police democratises itself

Diskussionskommando Berlin

Internal Training

Our main mission was de-escalation, we were deployed to prevent acts of violence by cooling down emotions mostly by way of talking. Soon there was almost no rally organized by the  KPD-ML (Communist Party of Germany /Marxist-Leninists) or event in the FU's Audi Max without the attendance of some of us in plainclothes. Our aim was not to stake people out and collect evidence for possible criminal charges later on,  we simply wanted to learn about their tactics and get information about their next actions.  Organizers loved last-minute changes of the meeting places, hoping that would  thwart the police's action planning. We were allowed to chose suitable events by ourselves, attendance was voluntary for everybody. If revealed, we risked pyhysical injury, and sadly that happened to several colleagues. Of course, the new application concept required a kind of preparation unheard of before. Marxist-Leninist  instruction  was not exactly a fundament of Berlin Police training. Moreover, there was a whole new lingo to learn, shaped by the APO (extra- parliamentary opposition): "Sociologen- deutsch", a strange mix of sociologist terminology and daily life German. They, too, did speak of "freedom", for example, but altered the meaning. One eternal question was: "Do you mean freedom from something or freedom for something?". Or, another usual argument before somebody was allowed to debate any subject: "Well, first and foremost, you need to define: What is freedom?" The hangers- on mainly excelled in using empty phrases without any deeper knowledge.   
daniel cohnbendit extraparliamentary opposition USA
Copyright  D e t l e f   W u l f f  2008-2016 / English:  P i e k e  B i e r m a n n, Berlin Germany

68th Revolt

shah of persia in berlin june 1967
A Police democratises itself
So, in order to be able to talk to demonstrators at all, Gruppe 47 officers had to learn a new language. If we didn't understand their new meaning of certain words in the first place, we would constantly talk past each other. So FU teachers, mostly left-wing, were employed to train us. People like Hans-Ulrich Luther, a political scientist and Middle East and Asia expert, and psychology professor Siegfried Schubenz, who later became Berlins first Police Psychologist. Klaus Harms, the Protestant police chaplain, took care of ethic and moral issues and of course of our souls and minds when strains got too hard. He even showed up personally during several missions! Some of us may well remember the "Hauskreis" at his home, where we sat, relaxed and cozy, in a circle together with him solving the problems of police and the rest of the world. Gradually we adjusted our looks to those of our counterparts. Our hair got longer, our clothes by far more casual. Our language changed as well. There was a fundamental change in our ways of facing problems and judging social contexts. "Law and order" was no longer the only category, shades, nuances and social variants became relevant in our interaction. Our counterparts were no longer just "disrup- ters", but human beings we wanted to  communicate with in order to avoid rampage. And the "cop who talks", which was hitherto strictly forbidden "in the field", was extremely unnerving for the APO.