Christian Semler

(1938) was a leading member of the SDS (Sozialistischer Deutscher Studentenbund) during the late 1960s. He lives and works as a freelance journalist in Berlin.


The failure of the German extra-parliamentary opposition to reflect upon its gradual slide towards violence led to the leftwing terrorism of the 1970s, writes Christian Semler. It was only with the ecological movement that pacifism came back onto the agenda. For the Left today, the question of the state monopoly on the use of force remains as central as ever.

The debate in Germany on National Socialism, initially imposed on a reluctant German public by the Allies, was brought by the radical ’68 generation into the mainstream. Now, there are signs that a new empathy has been discovered for the generation of “soldier fathers”; it has now become possible to acknowledge the German victims of World War II. This is not historical revisionism, but a movement to subsume the memory of National Socialism under the general memory of crimes against humanity committed in the twentieth century. A look at the forces at work behind a shifting debate.

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