A Police democratises itself

Diskussionskommando Berlin

First Meeting

By 1969 it was absolutely necessary to put an end to the spiral of violence the demonstrations had turned into, culminating in the notorious “Battle of Tegeler Weg”. A definitely new way to deal with it was urgently needed, as Klaus Hübner recalls in his book “Ein- satz”: "I had to cope with a contradiction – my creed, largely documented, that a police officer has to see himself doing his work as a member of the very society, that has charged him with the task to take wholehearted- ly care of its security, on one hand and the logical consequence on the other that he behaves like every- body else, that is: as a human being. A human being with all the aspirations a self determined society opens to him as well as with all those creaturely anxieties that are not easily controlled by the cool mind."
Polizei-Unterkunft Kruppstraße Schlieffen-Saal
They were officers from all sorts of departments and services as well as of almost all ages, with 25 years as an average. Klaus Hübner explained his vision of the task force to come, leaving no doubt that what he had in mind didn't have any role-model whatsoever. What's more, the attempt was by no means allowed to fail. The officers were granted one day of time to think about it. Those who decided to be part of the new special unit for anti-riot field testing and special tasks, would start service on the following day at 9 a.m. Eventually, everybody left with their minds full of thoughts and nearly no word. The following morning, 47 police officers showed up to report for duty – that's why the unit was soon called Group 47 (ironically, that was actually the name of a well-known post-war initiative of more or less left-liberal West German writers founded in 1947), to find Werner Textor as their first leader. Preparations for the new task started on the spot.
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

In the meantime, radical rally leaders had declared violent action against things as legitimate. Police officers  were named as "pigs" or "bulls", and thus reified too, reduced to mere things. Klaus Hübner recalls how he turned to a Free University psychologyprofes- sor, Siegfried Schubenz, asking him:   "What makes a distinction between per- sons and things? What do they have in common by no means?" Schubenz's answer: "It's the language! Only a human being can talk to a human being." Hübner conclusion: "I needed volunteers for an experiment that was never attempted before." In early April 1969 a circular was sent to all de- partments to find these volunteers. By the end of the month, 60 officers showed up in “Schlieffensaal”, a big hall in the Riot Police Department II building on Kruppstraße, in Berlin- Moabit, to get familiar with the idea of a special unit to be eventually established.
A Police democratises itself