“There Is Much Which Unites Us” (Günter Sonnenberg)

I have been free since May 15. So I’d like to thank all those people who struggled for my freedom for the 15 years and two weeks that I spent in jail. All of the various initiatives and campaigns which led to my release supported me against the State’s plan of destruction during my more than 15 years in prison – and they are also the reason that I’m standing before you today. For all those who struggled, it’s important to realize that all those efforts and all that work did achieve results. Thus, every public initiative and every political and militant action was important.

At this time, I’d especially like to thank all of the attorneys and the friends and family group. They have worked tirelessly over the years to publicize my situation and that of all the political prisoners, as well as countering the State’s program of destruction. The fact that I’m standing here now is not the result of the State’s generosity – it’s because we struggled together.

It’s now our responsibility – those of us who are now free – to see to it that all of our comrades who are still in prison get released. First of all, those who are ill must be released: Bernd Rössner, Isabel Jacob, and Ali Jansen.

Bernd has been in prison for 17 years. He was a part of the Holger Meins Commando that occupied the West German embassy in Stockholm in an attempt to win the release of political prisoners. He was held in isolation for several years and he remains separated from all the other political prisoners. Bernd has been ill since 1983. Since that time, his lawyers have consistently maintained that his illness in due to the 8 years he spent in isolation. In June 1988, it was decided that Bernd is medically unfit for detention. And that was four years ago!

Bernd has struggled for his identity to this very day. He is unbroken. His body and his physica1 condition have been so savagely attacked by the inhuman prison system, that Prof. Rasch testified in May/92 that with each passing day and week that Bernd spends in prison, the danger increases that he will indeed have served a “life-long sentence”. That means, Bernd is in danger of losing his life so long as he remains in prison.

The federal government and the Dusseldorf district court refuse to release him. They are working on new plans to destroy Bernd and to break his identity. When the matter of his release is discussed, they mention closed psychiatric care. They have tried for years to force Bernd into psychiatric care. They are continuing this process today.

His release must be central to us. The release of further prisoners rests on this. That means, no more prisoners will take political-judicial steps as long as Bernd is not free.

The struggle for the release of political prisoners is, for us, a part of the continuity of our revolutionary struggle for liberation from the imperialist system and for freedom from the clutches of the State. This is closely tied to the discussions which have taken place here on the outside: the anti-racist struggle, the anti-G7 mobilization, the”500 Years of Colonialism and Resistance” campaign, and even with the squatters’ struggle against housing shortages.

The goal and means which we have struggled for and worked towards, we see in those people getting beaten down by the cops today in Mannheim [2]. It has taken a struggle to be able to demonstrate in this manner. Many people have ended up in prison for doing political work supporting political prisoners. The police attacks on Mannheim, and the special conditions put in place there, are also being planned for Munich; these, like the isolation-torture used against us in the prisons, are designed to keep us from our goals and to deter our struggle for a humane society.

Torture in the prisons, just like the blows being struck against young anti-fascists here on the outside, is designed to induce fear and distress, capitulation and resignation.

There is much which unites us, we have much in common.

In countless countries, peoples are confronted with an imperialist system which denies them their right to existence. Germany is a big part of this. One example: in Kurdistan, weapons from Germany are used by the Turkish army to destroy villages and murder Kurds.

Through proletarian internationalism and actions connected with this, revolutionary groups in Germany have helped aid the liberation movements of the Three Continents [3]. What we have done up until now has not defeated imperialism. But these struggles have connected us somewhat to the conditions faced by revolutionaries in other countries. Today, we met people from other countries who were imprisoned over the last two decades. They, like us, are now struggling to free their imprisoned comrades from the clutches of the State.

That’s why it’s important to develop a new orientation and broaden revolutionary struggle at the same time. The similarities between their and our experiences, the commonality of goals and the warmth, intensity, and precision of these encounters have given us a great hope that we can build a new revolutionary front, despite the new global conditions, to combat the destruction of peoples and their means of existence.

There are people from all across the world who have to live here for the time being and carry out their revolutionary struggle for the freedom of their land and people from here, or who come here simply to discuss with us.

In the meantime, we have exchanged a whole wealth of experiences relating to our experiences in the guerrilla, the prisons, and our political praxis. Our horizontal perspective has been broadened by these meetings. In this way, we can catch hold of, and together find the answers to the complex problems and contradictions in the world which are reflected in our own country.

One answer has to be, the release of all imprisoned revolutionaries.

On behalf of everyone, I’d like to name a few: Leonard Peltier, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Irmgard Moeller, Alan Berkman, Geronimo Pratt, Nathalie Menignon, Dylcia Pagan, Susan Rosenberg, Manuel Hemandez, and many others!

Freedom for all political prisoners!

Günter Sonnenberg
Bonn, June 20th 1992 [1]


N.B. All footnotes in this document were added by the editor. None are originally from the RAF.

[1] This speech was delivered by former RAF prisoner Günter Sonnenberg at a demonstration, which included many ex-prisoners, in Bonn on June 20th 1992. It was subsequently published in Angehörigen Info #96, and translated into English and then published in Arm the Spirit #14/15 August-December 1992. [return to text]

[2] Police had recently attacked anti-fascists in Mannheim. [return to text]

[3] Three Continents refers to the three continents of the Third World – Africa, Asia and South America. [return to text]