Letter from Munich – 033
Letter from Munich – the Joseph Affair – 33
EINE DEUTSCHE FASSUNG STEHT WEITER UNTEN.
24 August 2001
Dear Mr. Graf, dear friends,
A continuation of the letter of last week:
By the early morning, after a night reminiscent of more unsavory periods in German history, the men were gone. With them went not only everything that might substantiate the government’s charge that the parents had spread “false suspicions,” with them also went every single piece of evidence the Kantelberg-Abdullas had painfully and laboriously collected to support their accusation that neo-Nazis had murdered their son.
A friend remarked the other day, “A leading German newspaper recently published an article in which the work of the district attorney was described as ‘dilettante.’ Newspapers in more enlightened countries might have another word to describe it.”
The parents were never interviewed by the police about their son’s death. In fact, witnesses that were interviewed by the police have told the Kantelberg-Abdullas that the police never asked them about anything that might shed light on the circumstances of the boy’s death. The police were interested only in asking questions about the alleged involvement of the Kantelberg-Abdullas in encouraging “false suspicions.”
“What I found interesting,” a friend remarked, “was that some time later, the Prime Minister of Saxony, Kurt Biedenkopf, once again appeared on German television in an interview that was shown repeatedly over the next few days. He informed the Germans with breathtaking self-assurance — and with astonishing ignorance of the operation of the American legal system — that if he were in America he could go before a court and be awarded the equivalent of fifty million German marks as compensation for the slander he and the State of Saxony had been subjected to.”
“Yes,” agreed another acquaintance, “there was apparently no awareness on Biedenkopf’s part that the kind of treatment the Kantelberg-Abdullas had suffered – the virtual abduction from Berlin, the nighttime seizure of any proof they could use to support their claims or defend themselves in court, the orchestration of an all but one-sided media campaign of innuendo and intimidation – would in America create such an outcry, from New York to Honolulu, that any American governor or district attorney who even attempted such actions would be forced to resign.”
One more friend added, “Most Germans, though, are oblivious to the way the American legal system really functions, and so Biedenkopf’s threat worked. There has been hardly a word or an image about the family in the media since Biedenkopf’s implied threat. However, there have been descriptions of what the alleged perpetrators of the boy’s murder are said to have suffered during the few hours of their detention and questioning.”
Still another friend of mine remarked the other day, “The media in Germany are so vulnerable to threats and intimidation from the authorities, such as the threat Biedenkopf made, that no German newspaper or television broadcaster would dare produce any piece of news that might invite a fifty million mark lawsuit. And even though political influence on the work of district attorneys has been obvious to many observers time and again in scandals in Munich, in Augsburg, in Bonn, in Berlin and elsewhere in recent years, German journalists and the public continue to take at face value whatever their district attorneys tell them, without even thinking of questioning their findings. Or is it perhaps that they simply do not want to take the trouble to question them?”
This letter will be continued next week.
Robert John Bennett
======================================================== ” title=”mailto:email@example.com ======================================================== “>rjbennett at post.harvard.edu ===…
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