Timeless wisdom from The Clash: "But I believe in this and it’s been tested by research / He who f%$^s nuns will later join the church."
Exhibit A: Horst Mahler. He started his career in Berlin as a relatively successful business lawyer, then migrated to the far left of the political spectrum. Because of his conservative dress and horn-rimmed glasses, he was called the "Opa der APO," the grandfather of the opposition. On the left, we see him at a 1968 May Day demonstration sponsored by a left-wing group (the picture is from Butz Peters’ immensely readable RAF history Toedlicher Irrtum). Eventually, Mahler grew close to the RAF. It was his silver-tongued eloquence that convinced a prison warden to let Andreas Baader visit the Institute for Social Questions to "research a book."
During the visit, Ulrike Meinhof and several accomplices broke Baader out, shooting and severely injuring an institute employee named Georg Linke in the process. Mahler, alas, wasn’t very good at life underground. After some terror training with the RAF in Jordan and a few months on the run committing bank robberies, he was arrested on October 8, 1970, after police saw through his disguise. Bond-like, he complimented them on the arrest. From prison, he gave interviews to anybody who came by, generally reciting the kind of revolutionary word-salad popular in the 1970s.
Has Horst Mahler changed his opinion about fascism (bad! and right around the corner!) since the early 197s0? I’ll let you judge for yourself from the first four words of his recent Vanity Fair Germany interview [h/t Ralf] with Michael Friedmann: "Heil Hitler, Herr Friedman!"
Mahler goes on to say lots of things about Jews (Angela Merkel is their "marionette") and the Reich and the struggle between the peoples of the world and the Holocaust. Friedmann, former head of a prominent German Jewish organization, listens bemused, occasionally trying to make sense of it all. I found Mahler a bit disappointing. He’s sometimes described as "diabolically clever" or the like. I was expecting some kind of eloquent, reasonable-sounding melange of accurate historical observation, questionable historical interpretation, and just a delicate whiff of understated anti-Semitic conspiracy-mongering. Instead, except for a few classy quotations from Buber and Goethe, it’s the kind of stuff you hear in a skinhead bar or a right-wing German fraternity.
By the way, kids, don’t try this at home! Mahler will likely be indicted for just about every sentence of this interview, and is fully aware of this fact. He claims not to mind, since prison is a place where you can get a lot of things done which you’d otherwise never have time for.