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Benno Ohnesorg

Benno Ohnesorg

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Benno Ohnesorg (ˈbɛno ˈʔoːnəzɔɐ̯k, October 15, 1940 – June 2, 1967) was a German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 university student killed by a policeman during a demonstration in West Berlin
West Berlin
West Berlin was a political exclave that existed between 1949 and 1990. It comprised the western regions of Berlin, which were bordered by East Berlin and parts of East Germany. West Berlin consisted of the American, British, and French occupation sectors, which had been established in 1945...

.

Death


On June 2, 1967, Ohnesorg participated in a protest held near the Deutsche Oper
Deutsche Oper Berlin
The Deutsche Oper Berlin is an opera company located in the Charlottenburg district of Berlin, Germany. The resident building is also home to the Berlin State Ballet.-History:...

, aimed against the state visit
State visit
A state visit is a formal visit by a foreign head of state to another nation, at the invitation of that nation's head of state. State visits are the highest form of diplomatic contact between two nations, and are marked by ceremonial pomp and diplomatic protocol. In parliamentary democracies, heads...

 of the Shah of Iran
Pahlavi dynasty
The Pahlavi dynasty consisted of two Iranian/Persian monarchs, father and son Reza Shah Pahlavi and Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi The Pahlavi dynasty consisted of two Iranian/Persian monarchs, father and son Reza Shah Pahlavi (reg. 1925–1941) and Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi The Pahlavi dynasty ...

, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who was attending a performance of Mozart's The Magic Flute
The Magic Flute
The Magic Flute is an opera in two acts composed in 1791 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to a German libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder. The work is in the form of a Singspiel, a popular form that included both singing and spoken dialogue....

at the Deutsche Oper that night. It was the first political demonstration Ohnesorg had ever taken part in.

The protest turned violent after provocations by the Shah's agents and the police's overreacting. Demonstrators were then dispersed into the side streets. In the confusion in the courtyard of Krumme Strasse 66, Ohnesorg was then shot by plain-clothes police officer Karl-Heinz Kurras
Karl-Heinz Kurras
Karl-Heinz Kurras is a former German police officer who served in the police force of West Berlin, and a former agent of the East German secret service Stasi....

. Ohnesorg died before he could be operated on in the hospital. Kurras was cleared of all charges in two separate trials.

More than forty years later, it was revealed that Kurras was an undercover agent of the East German secret police Stasi
Stasi
The Ministry for State Security The Ministry for State Security The Ministry for State Security (German: Ministerium für Staatssicherheit (MfS), commonly known as the Stasi (abbreviation , literally State Security), was the official state security service of East Germany. The MfS was headquartered...

, and a long-time member of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany
Socialist Unity Party of Germany
The Socialist Unity Party of Germany was the governing party of the German Democratic Republic from its formation on 7 October 1949 until the elections of March 1990. The SED was a communist political party with a Marxist-Leninist ideology...

, the East-German ruling Communist party; however, the motive behind Kurras' act remains unclear.
The survived Stasi archives contain no evidence that Kurras was acting under their orders when he shot Ohnesorg.

Ohnesorg was a student of Romance
Romance studies
Romance studies is an umbrella academic discipline that covers the study of the languages, literatures, and cultures of areas that speak a Romance language. Romance studies departments usually include the study of Spanish, French, Italian, and Portuguese...

 and German studies
German studies
German studies is the field of humanities that researches, documents, and disseminates German language and literature in both its historic and present forms. Academic departments of German studies often include classes on German culture, German history, and German politics in addition to the...

. He was married and his wife was pregnant with their first child.

Legacy


His death served as a rallying point for the left wing, and the Movement 2 June
Movement 2 June
Movement 2 June was a West German terrorist organization that was based out of West Berlin. Active only from 1971–1980, the anarchist group was one of the few violent groups at the time in West Germany. Although Movement 2 June did not share the same ideology as the Red Army Faction , these...

 group was named after the day of his death. The left-wing student movement
German student movement
The German student movement was a protest movement that took place during the late 1960s in West Germany. It was largely a reaction against the perceived authoritarianism and hypocrisy of the German government and other Western governments, and the poor living conditions of students...

 of the late 1960s that swelled and partly radicalised itself after Ohnesorg's death influenced a large number of German politicians who were in their teens and twenties at the time.

A monument next to the Deutsche Oper Berlin, which was designed by Austrian sculptor Alfred Hrdlicka
Alfred Hrdlicka
Alfred Hrdlicka was an Austrian sculptor, draughtsman, painter and artist. His surname is sometimes written Hrdlička.After learning to be a dental technician from 1943 to 1945, Hrdlicka studied painting until 1952 at the Akademie der bildenden Künste under Albert Paris Gütersloh and Josef...

, serves as a memorial for the killing. In December 2008, municipal authorities inaugurated an official memorial panel on the sidewalk in front of the house where Ohnesorg was shot. The panel is in German and English (see external links below).

In Ohnesorg's hometown of Hanover
Hanover
Hanover or Hannover, on the river Leine, is the capital of the federal state of Lower Saxony , Germany and was once by personal union the family seat of the Hanoverian Kings of Great Britain, under their title as the dukes of Brunswick-Lüneburg...

, a bridge over the Ihme
River Ihme
The Ihme is a 16 km long river in Lower Saxony. It gives its name to the locality Ihme Roloven and is a left tributary of the Leine. Its source is in the village Evestorf. After about 6 kilometers, the Ihme reaches the city of Hanover, where it flows into the Leine...

 river is named after him.

In film


The introduction of the 2008 film Der Baader Meinhof Komplex
Der Baader Meinhof Komplex
The Baader Meinhof Complex is a 2008 German film by Uli Edel. Written and produced by Bernd Eichinger, it stars Moritz Bleibtreu, Martina Gedeck and Johanna Wokalek. The film is based on the 1985 German best selling non-fiction book of the same name by Stefan Aust...

shows Ohnesorg's death (he is played by Martin Glade).

External links