Letter from Munich – 011
Letter from Munich – the Joseph Affair – 11
EINE DEUTSCHE FASSUNG STEHT WEITER UNTEN.
23 March 2001
Dear Mr. Graf, dear friends,
“People constantly ask me, why I am so convinced that the Kantelberg-Abdullas, the parents in the Joseph Affair, are right in believing that their child was murdered and that neither the German federal government nor the Saxony state government has investigated the affair the way they should.”
“Annette, not again.” It was difficult to tell if Erich was angry, or just exasperated.
Annette ignored him. “Almost from the beginning, the highest level of government in Saxony – and by this I mean the Prime Minister, Kurt Biedenkopf – was against any thorough investigation of the affair. The Dresden district attorney and the justice ministry may have been willing at first to conduct a normal investigation, but as soon as Biedenkopf heard that important CDU party members or their relatives in Sebnitz could be endangered by the investigation, Biedenkopf made sure the investigation took the course he wanted it to take. It didn’t matter to him that this course couldn’t possibly lead to a discovery of the truth. It didn’t matter that keeping to this course meant issuing an autopsy report that ignored any sign the boy had died violently; it didn’t matter that it meant intimidating the witnesses who had come forward to say they saw the boy attacked. These witnesses had to be made to change their story.”
“That’s preposterous,” said Erich, barely concealing his scorn.
“Is it?” Annette replied. “The inconsistencies in this case are precisely the sort of inconsistencies that have appeared in other cases where there has been a miscarriage of justice. And often, when the authorities haven’t acted as they should, it is the victim who is blamed. In the United States, for example, when Patty Hearst was kidnapped in the nineteen-seventies, the authorities knew of the danger but failed to warn her. To compensate for that failure, the authorities were astonishingly aggressive in prosecuting her. It finally took a presidential pardon to clear her name.”
“Yes, and that was in America,” commented Erich dryly. “This is Germany.”
“Precisely,” Annette replied. “In America the authorities admit their mistakes. In Germany, the authorities and the whole political class must be seen to have a kind of infallibility so that the German respect for authority won’t be weakened.”
Personally, I didn’t know what to believe or think. I’m just a simple and rather naïve person. Well, that’s the way things go, I guess.
Robert John Bennett