Leaflet-Posters As Discursive Spaces of

Trans-European and Transatlantic Student

otests During the 1960s[1]

By Thomas Pegelow Kaplan

Activists in the European student and youth revolts of the 1960s made extensive use of leaflets and posters as tools to voice their criticism and increase their support. Cheaply and quickly produced, these communication tools played an unmatched role in creating a counter-public sphere that challenged mainstream political discourses and practices. Today, some of these protest documents have assumed the status of media icons that decisively shape collective memories of the past revolts. From the start, scholarship on the 1960s protests has widely relied on these sources.[2] Scholarly works continue to benefit from the large collections of flyers and posters that movement activists and staff members of university, city, and state archives across Europe have assembled.[3] Since the 1990s, scholars, including, finally, a growing number of historians, have re-examined these revolts in European-wide and global contexts.[4] More recently, studies have drawn on transnational approaches to grasp the impact of knowledge transfers and communication processes between activists across national borders on the course of their protests.[5] Even if this recent wave of scholarship has not ignored the wealth of leaflets and posters,[6] it has yet to offer a substantial analysis of these sources that situates them at a decisive juncture of trans-European and transatlantic protest communication and as crucial discursive spaces in which activists renegotiated new protest languages and practices.

This essay takes a first step in the direction of developing a more systematic analysis of leaflets and posters as transnational protest media by offering a rereading of the centerpiece of the February 1966 “placard protest” (Plakataktion) in West Berlin and Munich. In so doing, it also introduces a new conceptualization of this often-mentioned source of the 1960s German student revolts and modifies protest poster and leaflet typologies. Drawing on rarely used documents on the emergence of the 1966 placard’s text, this contribution moves beyond conventional analyses of the poster as mere propaganda and means of provocation and explores the intricate ways in which it expressed communicative memories of the protesters and intervened in broader societal memory cultures.[7]

In a nighttime operation on February 3–4, 1966, small groups of leftist activists put up hundreds of posters at prominent locations all over West Berlin and Munich. The placard protest confronted onlookers with the accusation that “Erhard and the parties in Bonn support[ed] murder.”[8] A few days earlier, the American government had resumed its bombing campaigns in North Vietnam and the West German political establishment stood by its main ally. The poster identified an “International Liberation Front” (Internationale Befreiungsfront) as the group behind this protest and its call on the Americans to leave Vietnam. Small Situationist-leaning circles in West Berlin and Munich had chosen this designation to underscore the poster’s call to action and their solidarity with anti-imperialist liberation movements in the “Third World.” In the Munich circle, Dieter Kunzelmann, once active in Paris, played an important role; in West Berlin, the GDR-born students Bernd Rabehl and Rudi Dutschke spearheaded the placard protest. A younger cohort from the Berlin section of the German Socialist Student Union (SDS), which Dutschke and others had joined in an effort to recruit activists for their allegedly revolutionary politics, participated in the illegal operation. Before the end of the night, the police had removed most of the posters and arrested several activists. Still, the placard protest helped to swell the ranks of the participants in the city’s February 5 anti-Vietnam War demonstration to some 2,500. Organized by a broad coalition of leftist groups, including the SDS, this demonstration continued the protests of the “Vietnam Semester” 1965–66. At the end of the march, a minority—in line with the placard protest’s provocations—escalated their discursive attacks by lowering the American flag and throwing eggs at the US Information Agency’s “America House” (Amerika-Haus).[9]

These developments and the protest poster are well known. The circumstance that the text evolved in a lively, almost month-long letter exchange between activists in West Berlin and Munich and went through more than half a dozen drafts, however, is only rarely discussed. In his important study of the SDS, Siegward Lönnendonker, for instance, simply ignored these debates. The Kunzelmann circle, the former West Berlin SDSler stated, acted on its own authority when its members radically modified the Berlin group’s draft and sent it directly to the printer.[10] Yet, these exchanges are particularly revealing about the poster text’s emergence, transfer of linguistic trans-European and transatlantic protest practices, and even its very classification.

In his first placard protest-related letter of January 9, 1966, Rudi Dutschke sketched his vision for 1,000 Din A2-sized, two-color placards for each city, promised a text, and demanded “theoretical-political” (theoretisch-politisch) reasons for any modification of his forthcoming draft.[11] The much-pondered text, finally, amounted to 29 lines on a sheet devoid of any images. It, thus, begins to escape the clear-cut classifications and distinctions between posters and leaflets that many scholars of the 1960s protests rely on when dealing with the movements’ media. According to their standard definitions, protest posters are larger paper or cardboard sheets produced for outdoor public display. Activists usually glue or paste them to walls, fences, and billboards. The posters’ letter font is large enough for passersby to catch most of their message. Political posters also most often include pictorial elements and color. 1960s protest posters were deliberately crude in their layout and production. The emerging “anti-placard effect” served as a deliberate critique of bourgeois aesthetics and the professionalism of the posters used by political parties. The activists’ posters spoke to time-and-place specific issues, aimed primarily at forming a distinctive opinion and sought to prompt political action. In contrast to political posters, 1960s protest leaflets were smaller in size. Activists directly distributed them to audiences on university campuses, at busy urban intersections or during protest events. Protest movements enlisted them as communication tools in their daily political struggles and, during specific campaigns, frequently circulated more than one flyer per day. As a result, they were only distributed once and not used again at a later date. Leaflets general encompassed one to two and, if folded, up to four pages of text. They advanced a more accessible language than the jargon-filled theoretical explications in movement journals and often directly addressed and involved their readers. Protest leaflets, finally, were the outcome of collective processes and assumed a key function in activists’ much-celebrated political practices.[12]

In light of its wording and exclusive reliance on lengthy text, the “poster” of the Dutschke-Rabehl-Kunzelmann groups actually shares more similarities with a political leaflet than a more stylized “text poster” (Schriftplakat) and, therefore, constitutes what this essay describes as a “leaflet-poster.” As a hybrid of the leaflet and poster genres, leaflet-posters could easily be displayed as posters when printed on larger paper or handed out as leaflets when produced on smaller sheets. More than two dozen copies of the analyzed February 1966 placard even resurfaced in the form of a banner at the February 5 anti-Vietnam War rally in West Berlin.[13]

On a basic level, the overlaps between the two genres are rooted in their long, shared history. Scholars such as Frank Kämpfer have pointed out that posters and placards developed from fliers of the Reformation and Peasants’ War periods whose protagonists refined leaflets in the political battles and made ample use of them. The very term “placard” (Plakat) entered northern and central European language use in the sixteenth century, when participants in the Dutch revolts glued their leaflets against Habsburg-Spanish rule on walls in public spaces and started referring to the mounted pamphlets as Plakatten. The revival and emergence of leaflets and posters in their modern form took place in the French political cultures of the 1780s and 1860s respectively and interacted with the rise of these genres in other European societies. Both the employment of new printing techniques, especially nineteenth-century lithography, and the demands for advertisement in the quickly expanding consumer cultures aided these developments. By that the late nineteenth century, leaflets and posters had taken on noticeably different characteristics along the lines of size, dissemination, and function. Like their predecessors, however, flyers, placards, and the leaflet-posters of the 1960s West German protest movements discussed in this essay belonged to broader discursive spaces of trans-European and transatlantic protest cultures which shaped them and which these posters, in turn, helped to remake.[14]

In the Dutschke-Rabehl-Kunzelmann leaflet-poster, these trans-European dimensions are readily apparent in its mode of emplotment and language use. The plot structure pins the American and West German governments as the murderous villains against the exploited populations of “economically underdeveloped countries” (wirtschaftlich unterentwickelten Länder) who emerge as the revolutionary heroes of anti-imperialist liberation struggles. Drawing further on a Romantic mode of emplotment, the leaflet-poster’s authors inserted themselves and the readers who joined them as the text’s secondary heroes. Their act, the leaflet-poster implies, is already a decisive measure to disallow the rulers “to murder in our name” (daß in unserem Namen gemordet wird). To join the revolution would be the all-important next step. The Dutschke-Rabehl-Kunzelmann groups, however, did not only target the “West.” They also explicitly took aim at the “East” and accused both centers of the bi-polar postwar world of brutal arrangements at the cost of the oppressed.[15] The groups’ position reflected trans-European knowledge transfers between leftist movements, especially in Western Europe, in search of a “third way” beyond capitalism and Soviet Communism. Beginning in the late 1950s, leading theorists of the Situationist International (SI) such as Guy Debord had blatantly criticized Communist systems and accused them of still construing human beings as commodities. By the spring of 1966, Kunzelmann no longer belonged to the German section of the SI that he had first encountered in Paris in the late 1950s. He and other members of the Munich and West Berlin circles had even left the revolutionary Subversive Action that they had co-founded in 1963 and that Rudi Dutschke had joined in West Berlin.[16] Several scholars have examined the impact of these trans-European Situationist circles on West German activists. Wolfgang Kraushaar has argued that these circles’ ideas and failures resembled and prefigured beliefs and shortcomings of the participants in the late 1960s revolts.[17] Kunzelmann himself reaffirmed in a 1991 interview that they continued to engage and remake key approaches and the lingo of the European-wide avant-garde Situationist movement. The leaflet-poster’s text was a clear expression of the practices Kunzelmann and comrades had cultivated in exchanges with activists in Amsterdam, Paris, and Göteborg.

These transfer processes extended to the very concepts that underpin the Dutschke-Rabehl-Kunzelmann leaflet-poster, pointedly expressing its trans-European intertextuality. Situationist theorists like the Belgian activist Raoul Vaneigem had popularized strategies of “diversion” (détournement) that aimed at placing signs and words out of their established contexts to create new meanings that rendered older ones insignificant. “All elements of the cultural past,” he wrote, “had to be reinserted or disappear.” By turning this established language against their perceived enemies who had coined it, SI protesters hoped to subvert the hegemonic societal order. The authors of the 1966 poster applied this practice most prominently in their employment of the term “murder” (Mord). With its large lettering, it dominated the leaflet-poster’s upper section and reappeared more often than any other concept. Dutschke and his fellow activists cited a term that the German criminal code defined as the cruel killing of a human being based on murderous lust or other base motives and tied to an individual murderer. By widening the term’s meaning as a collective practice of a state and ascribing it to the German lawgivers’ American allies, they ultimately turned it against these lawgivers who appeared as party to US mass crimes.[18]

Much more so than the rather subtle early SI theorists, Kunzelmann and Dutschke unashamedly used these subversive citations as part of their revolutionary approaches. As Dutschke later summarized, “conscientiously staggered” (bewußtseinsmäßig gestaffelte) and “intense” (intensiv) texts and flyers had to prepare the “radicalization at larger rallies” (Radikalisierung bei größeren Demonstrationen) in ways that aided some participants’ “‘leap’ to us” (Sprung zu uns). By adding the phrase “murder by poison gas” (Mord durch Giftgas)” that was already part of the Berlin group’s first draft of January 12, they intensified their subversive practices. The phrase evoked memories of the Germans’ extermination of European Jewry during the Second World War and, thus, provocatively placed both the CDU-led Bonn government and the Johnson administration in continuity with Nazism. As scholars such as Götz Aly and Hans Kundnani have shown, these blatant constructions of parallelisms and continuities between the Nazi, West German, and American political establishments had already been evoked by activists prior to 1966 and only gained in prominence in the course of the protest movement’s ongoing radicalization. In their response to Dutschke on January 13, the Munich group stressed the need for this “coarsening of language” (vergröbernde Sprache). To rely on the “reigning jargon” (herrschenden Jargon) was not sufficient and had no connection to the activists’ reality. Instead, they had to remake language and “precisely name this reality” (diese Realität genau[zu] bezeichne[n]). [19]

Still, an analysis of the February 1966 leaflet-poster should not reduce these practices to mere propaganda. Indeed, they simultaneously expressed and strengthened the activists’ communicative memories that returned time and again to the fascist period and shaped, as Norbert Frei has recently reiterated, their actions.[20] Dutschke’s diary entries, for example, strikingly capture these dynamics. During his travels to the Soviet Union a few months prior to the placard protest, he noted “too many memories of the participation of the fathers in the conquering of Poland.”[21] In remembering their country’s recent mass crimes, West German activists were joined by their counterparts in other European societies who were haunted and motivated by images of their own. Transcultural exchanges between protesters only intensified these processes as exemplified by French student activists who evoked memories of Vichy and fascism in France in support of Daniel Cohn-Bendit two years later. The leaflet-poster’s “murder by poison gas” reference, meanwhile, was more complex and multi-directional. It also reached mainstream onlookers by conjuring up a different set of transnational imagery. In the larger trans-European memory communities, “poison gas” also evoked images of gas warfare in the trenches of the “Great War” and the postwar cults of the dead.[22] Truly, the leaflet-poster depicted a devastating imagery of a century of mass murder and destruction that was yet to continue in Vietnam and elsewhere.

In the discursive space of the February 1966 leaflet-poster, the authors’ subversive citing and evoking of trans-European memories did not stop at mere “murder” rhetoric. Hardly mentioned in the scholarly literature, the activists further radicalized their lingo to outright genocide charges. “We are supposed to assist the rulers,” the poster’s last substantial text paragraph began, “in perpetrating genocide.”[23] In the course of the discussion, activists in Munich, as the leaflet-poster draft that accompanies this essay indicates, had even supported a more prominent placement of “genocide in Vietnam” (Völkermord in Vietnam) accusations at the beginning of the text’s first paragraph. As the Munich group explicated in a letter of January 15, the genocide accusation increased the text’s seriousness and, in combination with the signing by an “International Liberation Front,” achieved a “distinct fomenting effect” (bestimmte agitatorische Wirkung) that critically underscored the narrative. Two days earlier, they had already sharply criticized the Dutschke-Rabehl group’s initial draft that was devoid of any genocide vocabulary. Instead, the Berlin circle’s version listed modes of killing from “destroyed” (zerstört) to “lacerated” (zerfleischt). This “mincemeat episode” (Hackfleichepisode), the Munich circle quipped, was “redundant” (überflüssig). The Berliners’ subsequent employment of the “self-determination formula” (Selbtbestimmungsformel) came too close to “bourgeois United Nations demands” (bürgerlichen UN-Forderungen). A subversive citing of UN lingo, the Munich comrades’ criticism implied, would be promising.[24] The 1948 UN Genocide Convention had elevated the term to international law and committed the convention’s signatories to prevent these crimes and prosecute their perpetrators. Since the Federal Republic had acceded to the convention in 1954, the very act of naming a crime genocide had become a distinctly political practice.[25]

The Munich group was particularly eager to remake and incorporate the genocide term into the final draft of the leaflet-poster, expanding its meaning to include napalm bombing campaigns. This step was hardly original. In the context of increasingly radicalized anti-war protests during the Free University of Berlin’s Vietnam Semester, for example, activists had already started to draw on this lingo. In November 1965, FU lecturers such as Wolfgang F. Haug, the publisher of the influential leftist journal Das Argument, issued a declaration on the conflict that accused the US of being on the verge of “genocide” (Völkermord) in Vietnam and “wrong[ly] naming” (falsche Benennung) this war. At the end, the authors pointed to an initiative by young academics in the United States that had inspired this declaration.[26] As in the case of the Haug text, the Dutschke-Rabehl-Kunzelmann groups’ use of genocide vocabulary can only be fully explained by the growing significance of supra-European and transatlantic transfers and communication networks that decisively shaped these leftist activists’ very language.

While taking aim at the US government and military apparatus that spearheaded the Western Cold War alliance and was virtually present in West Berlin and Bavaria, the Dutschke-Rabehl-Kunzelmann groups drew distinctly on practices and concepts of civil rights and leftist American activists from the other side of the Atlantic. Less than two years prior to the placard protest, organizers of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, for example, had fought a proposed mandatory sterilization bill in the Mississippi State House by quoting the UN Genocide Convention’s definition and naming the measure “a program of officially. . . sanctioned genocide.” Members of the American SDS swiftly drew on genocide discourses as they intensified the campaigns against their country’s war in Vietnam. A SDS pamphlet for conscientious objectors from the fall of 1965, for instance, spoke of an “immoral, illegal and genocidal war against the Vietnamese people.” German SDSlers like Günter Amendt had been at Berkeley, when students returned from the 1964 Freedom Rides in Mississippi. Dutschke, who had learned about these practices through SDS channels, also stepped up his connections to American activists. Gretchen Klotz, for instance, helped him to establish contact with members of the Black Power movement. The February 1966 leaflet-poster and its language, thus, belonged to and shaped a broader discursive space of trans-European as well as transatlantic protest activism and memory.[27]

Finally, any reading of protest publications, including leaflet-posters, has to take the hegemonic socio-political narratives into consideration to which these protest discourses remained inherently linked. In the power relations of Cold War Western Europe, the responses by state institutions and mainstream media outlets played a crucial role, forcefully affecting the reception and reach of leaflet-posters and even redirecting the protest practices that underpinned them. Since West Berlin’s police had removed the Dutschke-Rabehl-Kunzelmann leaflet-posters within a few hours, the placard protest would have had a much-reduced impact, if it had not been for West Berlin newspapers. The city’s press turned this protest into a news story for mass consumption. In the Cold War hysteria of the “front-line city,” the local newspapers, dominated by the conservative Springer publishing house, swiftly attacked the protesters. Most papers identified them as misguided elements that aided East Berlin’s cause or simply as hardened “supporters of the Communist Party.” The Berliner Morgenpostcondemned the “defamation” of leaders of the Western world as “murderers.” And yet, the non-Springer-owned Tagesspiegel published the text of the leaflet-poster and granted it a significant afterlife. The responses to the placard protest were not limited to the city and had distinctly transatlantic dimensions best captured by the activities of the US Mission in Berlin whose staff members ardently screened the city’s press. Immediately following the placard protest, a US official reported to the State Department in Washington, D.C., that the poster contained “classic Communist” claims and lingo. US diplomats swiftly construed the “International Liberation Front” as a minority of little influence whose members were “disavowe[d]” by the city’s main student groups. In a striking contrast to later years when they perceived serious challenges by transatlantic protest alliances, these diplomats did not detect any threat. By minimizing the leaflet-poster, they helped with the virtual drowning out of the poster protest in the mainstream media and public—for the time being.[28]

In closing, while television fully assumed the status of the key medium in Western European societies during the 1960s, student and youth protest movements revived and refashioned political leaflets and posters as an alternative means of communication. As much as this protest media responded to national and even local politics, it was also significantly shaped by the increasing transnational communication and knowledge transfers between protesters in various parts of the transatlantic Cold War world and, in turn, contributed to a remaking of the discursive and visual spaces of these activists’ broader protest cultures. The February 1966 “Erhard and the parties in Bonn support murder” leaflet-poster of Situationist-oriented groups in West Berlin and Munich reflected and intervened in these processes. In its analysis of this protest document, this essay proposes an altered typology by conceptualizing it as a leaflet-poster. Leaflet-posters as a hybrid form that could be used as flyers, posters, or even banners were a key component of the innovative and experimental alternative media tools of the trans-European and transatlantic protest cultures of the 1960s. Other types included image posters and mixed image-text posters that political activists and artists diligently developed in response to and for the expanding transnational protests. The 1968 text-image poster that depicts the dead Benno Ohnesorg and identifies the uniformed police commander Hans-Ulrich Werner as “SS-Werner” in charge of a genocidal campaign in 1942 Russia is but one example. At the rally following the Vietnam Congress at the Technical University, leftist Spanish students and Franco opponents carried several copies of this poster through downtown West Berlin.[29] These leaflet- and other posters, meanwhile, were not simply tools of agitation. They also expressed and formed communicative memories of protesters and sympathizers alike that often challenged hegemonic societal memory cultures. Still, in the anti-Communist hysteria of Cold War West Berlin, the Dutschke-Rabehl-Kunzelmann groups’ 1966 imagery of mass slaughter in Vietnam and German genocidal crimes of the century’s previous conflict was drowned out by competing images and memories evoked by the city’s mass media and government officials. The grammar of these still hegemonic memories gave prominence to Communist brutalities that dated back to 1953 East Germany and even 1945 Berlin. In the course of the widening global revolts at the end of the decade, these trans-European and transatlantic protest imageries and memories were increasingly heard, further remade, and began to alter dominant memory cultures. In these processes, transnational leaflet- and text-image posters played a key role that scholars of the 1960s still need to fully acknowledge and adequately incorporate into their studies of this crucial period of postwar European and transatlantic history.

[1] Essay relates to source: Internationale Sozialisten Deutschlands (ISD), Leaflet-Poster Draft.

[2] See, for example, Fichter, Tilman; Lönnendonker, Siegward, Kleine Geschichte des SDS. Der Sozialistische Deutsche Studentenbund von 1946 bis zur Selbstauflösung, Berlin 1977; Thomas, Nick, Protest Movements in 1960s West Germany. A Social History of Dissent and Democracy, Oxford 2003.Research for this essay was made possible by research fellowships from the Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation and the German Historical Institute in Washington, D.C.

[3] For entire collections of these sources cf. Miermeister, Jürgen; Staadt, Jochen (eds.), Provokationen. Die Studenten- und Jugendrevolte in ihren Flugblättern 1965–1971, Darmstadt 1980; HKS 13 (ed.), vorwärts bis zum nieder mit - 30 Jahre Plakate unkontrollierter Bewegungen, Hamburg 2001.

[4] Cf., for instance, De Groot, Gerard J. (ed.), Student Protest: The Sixties and After, London 1998; Kraushaar, Wolfgang, 1968 als Mythos, Chiffre und Zäsur, Hamburg 2000; Kurlansky, Mark, 1968: The Year That Rocked the World, New York 2004 and Frei, Norbert, 1968: Jugendrevolte und globaler Protest, Munich 2008.

[5] Gilcher-Holtey, Ingrid, Der Transfer zwischen den Studentenbewegungen von 1968 und die Entstehung einer transnationalen Gegenöffentlichkeit, in: Kaelble, Hartmut; Kirsch, Martin; Schmidt-Gernig, Alexander (eds.), Transnationale Öffentlichkeiten und Identitäten im 20. Jahrhundert, Frankfurt am Main 2002, p. 303–326; Klimke, Martin; Scharloth, Joachim (eds.), 1968 in Europe. A History of Protest and Activism, 1956–1977, New York 2008; AHR Forum. The International 1968, Part I, in: American Historical Review 114 (2009), p. 42–135.

[6] See, among others, Reichardt, Sven; Siegfried, Detlef (eds.), Das Alternative Milieu. Antibürgerlicher Lebensstil und linke Politik in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland und Europa 1968–1983, Göttingen 2010, p. 441, p. 453.

[7] On communicative memories cf. Assmann, Jan, Das kulturelle Gedächtnis, Munich 1992, p. 48–56.

[8] The German original reads: “Erhard und die Bonner Parteien unterstützen Mord.” See Miermeister, Provokationen, p. 82.

[9] Lönnendonker, Siegward; Staadt, Jochen; Rabehl, Bernd, Die antiautoritäre Revolte. Der Sozialistische Deutsche Studentenbund nach der Trennung von der SPD, Vol. 1: 1960–1967, Wiesbaden 2002, p. 226–238; Klimke, Martin, The Other Alliance: Student Protest in West Germany and the United States in the Global Sixties, Princeton 2010, p. 49–51.

[10] Lönnendonker, Antiautoritäre Revolte, p. 227. Some more recent works, by contrast, have mentioned the exchange. See Reimann, Aribert, Dieter Kunzelmann. Avantgardist, Protestler, Radikaler, Göttingen 2009, p. 115.

[11] Dutschke, Rudi to Munich group, January 9, 1966, Hamburger Institut für Sozialforschung (HIS), RUD 151,06.

[12] Artinger, Kai, Das politische Plakat – Einige Bemerkungen zur Funktion und Geschichte, in: idem (ed.), Die Grundrechte im Spiegel des Plakats, 1919 bis 1999, Berlin 2000, p. 16–17; Seidman, Steven A., Posters, Propaganda, and Persuasion in Election Campaigns Around the World and Through History, New York 2008, p. 5; Hagelweide, Gert, Flugblatt und Flugschrift, in: Dovifat, Emil (ed.), Handbuch der Publizistik, vol. 3, Berlin 1969, p. 41, p. 46; Loenartz, Marianne; Trumpp, Thomas, Plakate in Archiven – Funktionswandel, Erschliessung und Benutzung einer publizistischen Quelle, in: Der Archivar 26 (1973), p. 629–632, 638–639.

[13] Lönnendonker, Siegward; Fichter, Tilman, Hochschule im Umbruch, vol. 4, Die Krise (1964–1967), Berlin 1975, p. 67.

[14] Cf. also Kämpfer, Frank, “Der Rote Keil.” Das politische Plakat. Theorie und Geschichte, Berlin 1985, p. 13; Hagelweide, Flugblatt, p. 40–41; Loenartz and Trumpp, Plakate in Archiven, p. 630 and Miermeister, Provokationen, p. 8. Image posters of the 1960s protest also showed pronounced non-European influences and knowledge transfers. Especially the large wall posters of the “Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution” in the China of Mao Zedong had a lasting impact on the development of the genre by Maoist and other leftist activists in the trans-European revolts. See Landsberger, Stefan, Chinese Propaganda Posters: From Revolution to Modernization, Armonk, N.Y., 1995 and Evans, Harriet; Donald, Stephanie (eds.), Picturing Power in the People’s Republic of China: Posters of the Cultural Revolution. Lanham 1999.

[15] Early drafts included even harsher criticism of Communist regimes. Cf. Dutschke, Rudi to Munich group, January 12, 1966, HIS, RUD 151,06. On modes of emplotment see White, Hayden, Tropics of Discourse. Essays in Cultural Criticism, Baltimore 1978, p. 70.

[16] Diederichsen, Diedrich, Persecuation and Self-Persecution: The SPUR Group and Its Texts, in: Grey Room 26 (2007), p. 64–65 and Situationistische Internationale 1958–1969. Gesammelte Ausgabe des Organs der Situationistischen Internationale, vol. 1, Hamburg 1976, p. 26.

[17] Kraushaar, Wolfgang, Die Bombe im Jüdischen Gemeindehaus, Hamburg 2005, p. 8; idem, “Kinder einer abenteuerlichen Dialektik,” in: Böckelmann, Frank; Nagel, Herbert (eds.), Subversive Aktion. Der Sinn der Organisation ist ihr Scheitern, Frankfurt am Main 2002, p. 7–32 and Juchler, Ingo, Die Avantgardegruppe “Subversive Aktion” im Kontext der sich entwickelnden Studentenbewegung der sechziger Jahre, in: Weimarer Beiträge 40 (1994), p. 72–88. See also Dreßen, Wolfgang; Kunzelmann, Dieter; Siepmann, Eckhard (eds.), Nilpferd des höllischen Urwalds. Situationisten, Gruppe Spur, Kommune I, Berlin 1991, p. 160.

[18] Vaneigem, Raoul, Détournement, in: Dreßen, Nilpferd, p. 79; Lee, Mia, Umherschweifen und Spektakel. Die situationistische Tradition, in: Klimke, Martin; Scharloth, Joachim (eds.), 1968. Handbuch zur Kultur- und Mediengeschichte der Studentenbewegung, Bonn 2008, p. 103; Brunotte, Barbara, Rebellion im Wort. Eine zeitgeschichtliche Dokumentation. Flugblatt und Flugschrift als Ausdruck jüngster Studentenunruhen, Frankfurt am Main 1972, p. 78.

[19] Munich group to Berlin group, January 13, 1966, HIS, RUD 151,06; Dutschke, Rudi, Genehmigte Demonstrationen müssen in die Illegalität überführt werden, in: Dreßen, Nilpferd, p. 168. See also Kundnani, Hans, Utopia or Auschwitz. Germany’s 1968 Generation and the Holocaust, New York 2009, p. 31 and the often polemical Aly, Götz, Unser Kampf. 1968 – Ein irritierter Blick zurück, Bonn 2008, p. 148–149, 156–157.

[20] Frei, 1968, p. 78–88.

[21] The German original reads: “Zu viele Erinnerungen an die Beteiligung der Väter bei der Eroberung Polens. . .” Dutschke, Rudi, Jeder hat sein Leben ganz zu leben. Die Tagebücher 1963–1979, Munich 2005, p. 27.

[22] Kalter, Christoph, Die Entdeckung der Dritten Welt. Dekolonisierung und neue radikale Linke in Frankreich, Frankfurt am Main 2011; Fussell, Paul, The Great War and Modern Memory, New York 2009, p. 267; Müller, Jan-Werner, On ‘European Memory.’ Some Conceptual and Normative Remarks, in: Pakier, Malgorzata; Stråth, Bo (eds.), A European Memory? Contested Histories and Politics of Remembrance, New York 2010, p. 28–29.

[23] “Wir sollen den Herrschenden beim Völkermord helfen.” See Miermeister, Provokationen, p. 82.

[24] Internationale Sozialisten Deutschlands, poster draft, n. d., HIS, RUD 240,07; Munich group to Berlin group, January 13, 1966; Munich group to Berlin group, January 15, 1966, HIS, RUD 151,06.

[25] Minow, Martha, Naming Horror: Legal and Political Words for Maß Atrocities, in: Genocide Studies and Prevention 2 (2007), p. 38–39 and Jescheck, Hans-Heinrich, Die internationale Genocidium-Konvention vom 9. Dezember 1948 und die Lehre vom Völkerstrafrecht, in: Zeitschrift für die gesamte Strafrechtswissenschaft 66 (1954), p. 193–197.

[26] Erklärung über den Krieg in Vietnam, in: Das Argument 8 (1966), p. 67–68.

[27] SNCC (ed.), Genocide in Mississippi, Atlanta 1964, p. 2, 4; SDS, „Guide to Conscientious Objection,“ 1965, p. 5, 11, NA, RG 46.15, Box 273, „Students for a Democratic Society 1967 (1 of 2)“; Böckelmann and Nagel, Subversive Aktion, p. 340 and Höhn, Maria; Klimke, Martin, A Breath of Freedom, The Civil Rights Struggle, African American GIs and Germany, New York 2010, p. 108, 111.For broader studies of the influences and collaborations between American and West German protest movements cf., for example, Klimke, Other Alliance; Kraushaar, 1968 als Mythos, p. 53–80 and Juchler, Ingo, Die Studentenbewegung in den Vereinigten Staaten und der Bundesrepublik Deutschland der sechziger Jahre, Berlin 1996.

[28] Lönnendonker, Hochschule im Umbruch, p. 264; Klimke, Other Alliance, p. 194–195; USBER to State Department, February 5, 1966, NA, RG 59, Box 2197, Folder “Pol 23. Internal Security Counterinsurgency. GER B” and Berliner Morgenpost and Tagesspiegel, 05.06.1966, qtd. in ibid.

[29] On image-text posters see, for example, Kämpfer, “Der Rote Keil,” 48–49.


  • Klimke, Martin, The Other Alliance: Student Protest in West Germany and the United States in the Global Sixties, Princeton 2010.
  • Kraushaar, Wolfgang, 1968 als Mythos, Chiffre und Zäsur, Hamburg 2000.
  • Reimann, Aribert, Dieter Kunzelmann. Avantgardist, Protestler, Radikaler, Göttingen 2009.
  • Gilcher-Holtey, Ingrid, Der Transfer zwischen den Studentenbewegungen von 1968 und die Entstehung einer transnationalen Gegenöffentlichkeit, in: Kaelble, Hartmut; Kirsch, Martin; Schmidt-Gernig, Alexander (eds.), Transnationale Öffentlichkeiten und Identitäten im 20. Jahrhundert, Frankfurt am Main 2002, p. 303–326.
  • Horn, Gerd-Rainer, The Spirit of ’68. Rebellion in Western Europe and North America, 1956–1976, Oxford 2007.

Pegelow Kaplan, Thomas : Leaflet-Posters as Discursive Spaces of Trans-European and Transatlantic Student Protests during the 1960s. In: Themenportal Europäische Geschichte (2012),  URL: http://www.europa.clio-online.de/2012/Article=565.

Bitte geben Sie beim Zitieren eines Beitrags neben der Url auch immer das Datum Ihres Besuchs der Seite in Klammern an!