They?re Still Painting, and More: The Leipzig Art Scene

First a success, then a bubble: the hype surrounding the ?New Leipzig School? put the city on the map of the art world, but also blinkered its vision.... more more

GoetheInstitute

01/03/2005

Hans-Jürgen Krahl - a biography

by Gerd Koenen

Hans-Jürgen Krahl was a leading figure in the "anti-authoritarian" wing of the SDS (Socialist German Student Federation), the organisation that led the German student protest movement. As a doctoral student of Theodor Adorno, Krahl brought many key concepts from Adorno's "Critical Theory" into the movement's political and theoretical discourse. The confrontation between Krahl and Adorno in a public trial was fraught with personal and symbolic resonances. When, under Krahl's leadership, the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt was occupied by a group of students, Adorno is said to have taken a piece of chalk and written on the wall: "Wolves howl out of this kraal".

After the other major student figure, Rudi Dutschke, was shot on the street in early 1968, Krahl at times filled the role of chief charismatic figure left vacant by Dutschke. But he never played a central part in the growing yet increasingly splintered "extra-parliamentary opposition" (APO), in part because of his personal instability. His last attempts to make the SDS an overarching "theoretical organisation of the proletariat", were largely ignored.

All the more legendary were his recorded education sessions, where surrounded by his closer cronies he philosophised on the revolutionary theories of the 20th century. Together with his published and unpublished manuscripts, these recorded monologues make up an apocryphal fund whose hermetic abstraction and multiple connections with German idealist and materialist philosophy have an aura of hidden meanings and messages. Krahl's own version of his biography, with its "very German and Faustian beginnings", as he wrote to a friend, only adds to this mystique.

Following the death of Hans-Jürgen Krahl in February 1970, the SDS was formally disbanded.

Gerd Koenen

Get the signandsight newsletter for regular updates on feature articles.
signandsight.com - let's talk european.

 
More articles

Poison envy

Tuesday 22 November, 2011

Read the first English excerpt from historian Goetz Aly's new book "Why the Germans? Why the Jews? Equality, Envy and Racial Hatred 1800 - 1933". In response to this question that has been hanging in the air since the end of WWII, Goetz Aly points to the lack of education and fear of progress in so many German Christians at the turn of the century - and to the contrasting readiness of the Jewish population to embrace the new opportunities and education as the ticket to social mobility. Shamed by their shortcomings, the Germans soon turned to racial theory to conceal their envy and resentment.
read more

Pas teutonique du tout!

Tuesday 11 July, 2011

TeaserPicAn exhibition in Naumburg celebrates the greatest sculptor and master builder of Medieval Germany, famed for the creation of Uta, the ideal German woman. But patriots be warned! By Sven Behrisch

read more

Rocking remembrance

Thursday 15 June, 2011

Berlin is rich in authentic places where history can be experienced in a tangible and personal manner. We don't need simulation, we should just listen more closely to the genius loci. The planned Memorial to Freedom and Unity is a case in point. By Karl Schlögel
read more

Mass murderers of conviction

Monday 18 April, 2011

TeaserPicThe trial of SS officer Adolf Eichmann began fifty years ago. Research continues to show that many of the perpetrators were not just bureaucrats and cretins but educated men who acted out of intellectual conviction - Eichmann, contrary to what Hannah Arendt said, included. An interview with Holocaust historian Ulrich Herbert by Stefan Reinecke and Christian Semler. (Photo: Adolf Eichmann during his trial in Jerusalem)
read more

A visit to the house of dreams

Monday 21 March, 2011

TeaserPicSir Sassoon Eskell was a Jewish Iraqi and the country's first minister of finance. His magnificent house, once home to the largest private library in Iraq, sits between Baghdad's Al Rashid Street and the River Tigris. After a close brush with death, author Najem Wali revisited the building, which young Iraqi filmmakers and the army both dream of making their own.
read more

A very different sort of banker

Monday 4 October, 2010

An exhibition in the Amsterdam Verzetsmuseum celebrates Wally van Hall, the banker who used his financial connections to fund the Dutch Resistance movement during WWII. By Dragan Klaic
read more

The Russians must reflect on the evildoings

Thursday 29 April, 2010

The historically strained relations between Russia and Poland seem to be improving at long last, thanks to the considerable show of Russian sympathy at the funeral of the Polish president Lech Kaczynski. It remains to be seen whether these positive developments will continue beyond a short-lived expression of mourning. An interview with Arseni Roginski, the president of the Russian human rights organisation "Memorial", by Ulrich M. Schmid.
read more

Musicology and mass execution

Wednesday 6 January, 2010

Hans Heinrich Eggebrecht was one of Germany's most influential musicologists. His magnum opus "Music in the Occident" sits on the shelves of many a music lover. Ten years after his death, historian Boris von Haken has now revealed that Eggebrecht was involved in mass shootings of Jews during the Second World War.
read more

The element of madness

Monday 7 December, 2009

The history of German terrorism was also the story of the amour fou between Gudrun Ensslin and Andreas Baader. But this affair caused the breakup of Ensslin's relationship with Bernward Vesper, who was also the father of her child. Their letters, dating from 1968/69, while Ensslin was in Stammheim, offer profound insights into the political pathology of the time. By Gerd Koenen.
read more

The starting gun for a student movement

Monday 8 June, 2009

The death of student Benno Ohnesorg saw the birth of the West German '68 movement. Now evidence has emerged that Karl-Heinz Kurras, the West German police officer who shot him during a demonstration against the Shah, was a Stasi spy. Wolfgang Kraushaar, an acclaimed chronicler of '68, asks whether the killing was an unofficial East German act of state.
read more

The black marketeers of Bahnhof Zoo

Tuesday 24 March 2009

TeaserPicThe idea that 1989 came out of thin air speaks volumes about historical insensitivities and limited horizons. The fall of the Berlin Wall was preceded by years of erosion and attrition. Historian Karl Schlögel looks at the molecular movements on the margins of history that are much more powerful than any deeds of "great men".
read more

Beyond the war hero

Tuesday 17 February, 2009

TeaserPicBernard-Henri Levy looks at some of the problems posed by the film "Valkyrie" which are too complex and delicate to be resolved within Hollywood logic. First on the list: the Scientology question.
read more

Unmasking the July 20 plot

Friday 13 February, 2009

To deny Stauffenberg and the other conspirators any moral and cultural relevance is blinkered and consitutes intellectual bigotry. Even if their ideas seem politically anachronistic today, these men showed the sort of noblesse and strength of character of which today’s politicians and other bureaucratic elites can only dream. Karl Heinz Bohrer responds to the thesis of British historian Richard J. Evans.
read more

Why did Stauffenberg plant the bomb?

Tuesday 10 February, 2009

TeaserPicWas it because Hitler was losing the war? Was it to put an end to the mass murder of the Jews. Or was it to save Germany's honour? Whatever his motives, he was no role model for future generations, says British historian Richard Evans. (Photo: Deutsches Historisches Museum)
read more

Evil and the upright citizen

Monday 4 February, 2008

A large-scale and long-overdue project has begun. German historians are documenting the persecution and extermination of the Jews in 16 volumes of primary source texts where metal merchants and budgie lovers all have their say - with no recourse to hindsight. By Eckhard Fuhr
read more