These Murderous and Predatory Hordes of Peasants

And now the farmers are also getting nailed: they are being labeled as “the Right”—the protest against the government is making this happen.

So now things are getting serious. Farmers are chugging onto the roads, blocking them and making their displeasure known. It’s about subsidies no longer being paid, about vehicle tax and reimbursement of diesel revenue. But other issues are also driving farmers to protest. They must produce cheaply, ecologically and to a high quality: But how, at such a high cost?

Last week, angry farmers refused to let the Minister of Economic Affairs get ashore. The fact that he still sees land at all is surprising enough. But from the ferry he was on, he was apparently able to catch a glimpse of the mainland. Not for long, because the angry crowd wouldn’t let him get ashore. Berlin’s politicians, who are usually quite sympathetic when young people glue themselves on the asphalt and deny citizens access, were instead thoroughly outraged.

The Tractors of the Right

The police in some parts of the country are said to have been trained as early as mid-November on how to unlock tractors without keys in order to break up blockades. This was reported to me by a source close to the Fendt company. Fendt manufactures agricultural machinery. If this is indeed the case, then people in Berlin had already thought about a protest beforehand. They were expecting it—and preparing for it. So, the fact that the strikes were about to happen was on the agenda after all. Who says that Berlin has no foresight? They do—just not in the way that the majority of citizens would like.

Another measure is currently taking effect. People who demonstrate in large numbers in this country must be given a label. At least when it is against the federal government and not “for the climate.” The answer to the question of how to label such infamous groups who dare to leave their place in society, i.e., who forget themselves, is simple—move them to the right. And as soon as Robert Habeck was not allowed onto the German mainland, Tagesschau asked: “Are the farmers’ protests being hijacked by the Right?”

There are also groups involved that are questionable, the audience was told. The offshoot organization of the NPD, for example, was spotted. The farmers’ association promptly distanced itself—it thus fell into a trap and invalidated its own protest. Of course, it is possible that groups with a strange world view are also involved in demonstrations. A farmer confirmed this to me in conversation; he is from Mecklenburg, and in his community of 1000 people, the AfD received many votes in the last state election. Should he now stop talking to his neighbors? What is he being asked to do?

Nevertheless, those on the Right are in the minority. They were also in the minority during the Covid protests, or when it came to opposing the TTIP free trade agreement. For certain “left-wing intellectuals,” the presence of a few such fellows at the TTIP demonstration in Berlin several years ago was reason enough to deny the legitimacy of the entire demonstration—without naming names, with a view to the north of Frankfurt, where this verbal delegitimization of the protest came from; insiders probably know where to look discreetly: they really wanted to do a service to the federal government at the time—these luminaries of “left-wing thinking” were not often closer to the government.

The Delegitimization Machine Starts Up

So now the farmers. Are they somehow Nazis? What is needed now—the train drivers are also about to go on strike. I wonder if one of them might happen to sympathize with the NPD offshoot “Heimat?” Perhaps we can find a train driver who cried when Bruno Ganz, who had become Adolf Hitler in Oliver Hirschbiegel’s Downfall, shot himself? Is there someone among them who was rooting for the Nazis in Inglourious Basterds? If so, the Tagesschau can get going on framing these strikes too. Any bets that the GDL will also go that way over the next few days? Who can deny it?

Seriously, it’s not just the Tagesschau that is postulating the farmers’ shift to the Right. The Office for the Protection of the Constitution warns of “subversive riots” and refers to right-wing groups and dissident thinkers who have infiltrated the protests—and this discredits the entire protest action. Dissident thinkers are now also involved. People who think outside the box and do not toe the line: Is that the accusation?

The delegitimization-of-the-state industry is currently producing the latest suspected case. This criminal offense, which is being handled by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, seems to be the only way this federal government intends to counter dissatisfied citizens. Gregor Gysi recently stated quite rightly that the political class is no longer discussing how it can regain the trust of citizens. Throwing everything into the delegitimization machine: Is that supposed to create trust? Or the opposite?

A look at the website of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution speaks volumes. Namely, where it explains what this delegitimization of the state is all about. We find a brief description: “Various actors instrumentalized the protests against Covid protection measures in order to pursue an actual anti-constitutional agenda, detached from any factual criticism. This manifests itself, among other things, in aggressive agitation against representatives and institutions of the state, in order to systematically undermine its legitimacy.” Next to it is a picture: a man wearing an FFP2 mask holding up a sign with the words “This policy is destroying us all.” Is such a statement even relevant for the Office for the Protection of the Constitution? If so, it becomes clear what this criminal offense actually seeks: to quash criticism of the federal government.

A Country Full of Right-Wingers

This realization is neither new nor original. Many people in the country have long since realized that the Office for the Protection of the Constitution is a government protection agency. Lawyer Peter Schindler has already pointed this out. Haldenwang’s Office for the Protection of the Constitution is the cognitive Praetorian Guard of the Chancellery—no one really knows whether it is possible to make this statement without making oneself vulnerable. That’s the trick about “delegitimizing the state”: it can be anything—or nothing. A slogan like the one just quoted from the accompanying photo on the constitution protection page may be enough. But nobody seems concerned about the delegitimizing behavior of the political class.

Incidentally, the fact that farmers are now being associated with the Right is not original either—we should have seen this coming. It is simply the only remaining administrative act of a policy that has long since abandoned the people. You can’t replace the people, but putting them in a corner works brilliantly. And so, Germany is increasingly becoming a country full of right-wingers. Not because the citizens are moving to the Right, but because such an affiliation is being constructed. The fight against the Right is largely nothing more than a construct of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution and is because of the defamation campaign of social protests.

And it works. As soon as the accusation was made, some farmers were encouraged via social media to post the slogan, “Agriculture is colorful, not brown.” There were prompt discussions; some farmers didn’t want to be colorful either because they associated it with the Greens. There have always been farmer protests in Germany. But they were often regionally limited individual actions—the now more centralized protest must of course be fragmented, from the point of view of those in power. The Office for the Protection of the Constitution is actually nothing more than a federal office for divisive issues.

Roberto J. De Lapuente is a journalist who writes from Germany. He is the author of Rechts gewinnt, weil Links versagt [The Right Wins because the Left Fails]. This article appears through the kind courtesy of Overton Magazin.

The Pillory and the Changing Times

We are deep in the throes of cognitive warfare. All means are good, even atavisms such as the pillory stocks are experiencing a renaissance. After all, people who endanger the mental peace of our small republic by thinking for themselves or even conducting research must be made known to the public. This is apparently considered democratic these days—in a country where—thank God!—every murderer enjoys the right not to be unabashedly paraded before the public.

The European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE) has also afforded itself such a noble pillory stock. And lo and behold, we do know the first head put in it—it’s Patrik Baab. He can be seen in an illustrious group; he is presented as one of 44 “biased observers.” The accusation: “Baab claims that he was in the occupied territories to do research as a journalist.” So he only claims that? So Baab is being accused of lying?

The List of Enemies

Other heads are also listed, especially many of those from the AfD who have been denounced. The most prominent protagonists on this list are: Sergey Filbert, Gunnar Linnemann, Alina Lipp, Andreas Maurer, Thomas Röper and Alexander von Bismarck. What they all have in common is that they do not agree with the German government’s view of helping Ukraine to victory by any means necessary and thus suspending diplomacy.

They are therefore lined up here as “enemies” because they think differently, politically, and take a different geopolitical perspective. In Patrik Baab’s case, his journalistic reputation is also being denied and his research trip for his book, On Both Sides of the Front, is being classified as a pretext for reporting in a Russia-friendly manner—the court ruling by the Administrative Court of Schleswig-Holstein, which classified Kiel University’s withdrawal from the contractually agreed teaching assignment as null and void, explicitly expresses the freedom of the press component of Baab’s trip.

In addition to the violation of the right to one’s own image and possible copyright infringements, we are dealing with a much more serious accusation here: The EPDE has posted a list of enemies on the internet at its website. Since 2021, there has been criminal law protection against such listings. § Section 126a of the German Criminal Code (StGB), Dangerous dissemination of personal data, explains:

Anyone who publicly, in a meeting or by disseminating content (Section 11 (3)) disseminates personal data of another person in a manner that is suitable and, according to the circumstances, intended to put that person or a person close to them at risk of

  • a crime against them or
  • other unlawful act directed against them against sexual self-determination, physical integrity, personal freedom or against property of significant value

is punishable by a custodial sentence not exceeding two years or a monetary penalty.

The case of Walter Lübcke was the impetus for the punishment of such lists. The district president of Kassel was on such an enemy list.

EPDE—Non-Profit and Democratic?

The European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE) is based in Berlin. It is made up of various European election observation platforms. It was founded in Warsaw in 2012. The “EPDE encourages, trains and supports experts and citizens who are committed to transparent and equal electoral rights”—the current chairwoman is Stefanie Schiffer. The EPDE defines itself as a non-profit organization.

Supporters of the EPDE are: The Federal Foreign Office, ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen), the Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the European Commission, The Greens / EFA, Transparency International Armenia, the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum, the German Marshall Fund of the United States, the Marion Dönhoff Foundation, the Open Russia Foundation and the Foundation for German-Polish Cooperation.

The list of supporters gives a deep insight into the political positioning of the EPDE. However, this poses a problem: Political activity and non-profit status do not go hand in hand. In 2020, the Federal Fiscal Court revoked the non-profit status of attac, an organization critical of capitalism, and thus removed the associated tax privileges – attac had initiated many campaigns for possible reforms, but the declared aim of attac’s statutes was “political educational work”. The Federal Fiscal Court ruled that the campaigns exceeded the declared objective – therefore it could no longer be assumed that attac was a non-profit organization.

We will leave open at this point whether this judicial decision was politically motivated or not—however, the EU Commission recommends that the German government should not offset charitable and political activities against each other. Of course, it is reluctant to do so, as this practice simply opens up too many possibilities. According to this legal situation, however, it looks as if the EPDE has long since left the realm of non-profit status with this list of enemies.

When asked about the EPDE’s non-profit status and the fact that it presents “fake observers,” Stefanie Schiffer wrote: “Politically motivated election observation distorts the public perception of the quality of electoral processes and thus undermines the work of professional and independent election observation missions such as those of the OSCE/ODIHR or the members of the EPDE, which adhere to international quality standards. It is in the public interest to receive information about systematic attempts to imitate election observation and whitewash fraudulent elections.”

Turning Point and Rupture of Civilization

In 2018, the EPDE protested against being classified as an “undesirable organization” in Russia. You may think what you like about the law on so-called “undesirable organizations” introduced in Russia in 2015, but there could be good reasons why an organization that is supported by a ministry in another country is not welcome there. Even before the war in Ukraine, the EPDE was considered a political instrument of the West in Russia. Without having to take the Russian perspective, there seems to be no question that the EPDE is politically involved.

Chairwoman Stefanie Schiffer rarely speaks out in public. In August 2021, she wrote an article for Die Welt, together with Slavic studies professor Gerhard Simon entitled, “Warum Berlin der Ukraine helfen muss” (“Why Berlin must help Ukraine”). Six months before the start of the Russian-Ukrainian war, she encouraged German foreign policy to ignite this powder keg in Eastern Europe and anchor Ukraine in the West. In the article, she is just presented as the “founder of the German-Ukrainian platform Kyiv Talks.” Nevertheless, this indicates where the EPDE is positioned.

With the best will in the world, however, the presentation of a list of enemies cannot be reconciled with the self-declared aim of promoting “democratic electoral processes throughout Europe.” Yes, according to general democratic ideas—and in accordance with Section 126a of the German Criminal Code (StGB)—this is actually an attack on democratic practice. This is because people with divergent political ideas are being paraded and in some cases criminalized. This practice can put them at a disadvantage in social life—and yes, let’s tell it like it is: they made into targets, without explicitly saying so.

The pillory was used in the Middle Ages and later, during the fascist break with civilization; dissenters were paraded in a very similar way. When an organization that puts democracy on its agenda takes this up, it has lost its compass—if it ever had one. We are encountering the turning point everywhere these days. And it consists of more than just billions in injections for armaments—it is a concept of refeudalization and de-democratization on many levels. The EPDE should be an “undesirable organization” for anyone who still wants to take democratic standards seriously.

Roberto J. De Lapuente is a journalist who writes from Germany. He is the author of Rechts gewinnt, weil Links versagt [The Right Wins because the Left Fails]. This article appears through the kind courtesy of Overton Magazin.

Kiel University Sacrificed Freedom of the Press

Patrik Baab has won outright. The ruling of the Schleswig-Holstein Administrative Court in his favor is now legally binding.

So now it’s official: Patrik Baab did nothing, with his trip to eastern Ukraine, that would justify ending his teaching position at Kiel University. The ruling of the Schleswig-Holstein Administrative Court of April 25 of this year is now legally binding. This is because Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel (CAU) has allowed the deadline for appealing to the Higher Administrative Court to expire.

After a lot of chest-beating, in the end, CAU did not dare come out of hiding. Its decision to kick journalist Baab out may have been a kowtow to the political situation and especially to the foreign policy course of the German government—but this decision was never legally tenable.

Freedom of the Press Before Political Pandering

The reasoning of the Schleswig-Holstein Administrative Court explicitly emphasized “the freedom of science according to Article 5 (3) sentence 1, GG (Grundgesetz—German Basic Law) and the freedom of the press according to Article 5 (1) sentence 2, var. 1 GG, which the plaintiff [i.e., Baab] is entitled to invoke. The scope of protection of the freedom of the press guarantees,” the court explained in detail, “in its subjective-legal dimension, the rights of freedom against the state for persons and organizations active in the field of the press; in addition, in its objective-legal meaning, it guarantees the institution of the independence of the press.”

Freedom of the press, it goes on to say, “includes, with respect to printed matter, all conduct that serves to obtain, prepare and disseminate opinions and facts for the public… Holders of freedom of the press are also entitled to a subjective right of defense against indirect infringements.” The court expressly emphasized that Baab’s trip to eastern Ukraine at the time of the referenda also falls under this protection, as he was researching for a book and acting as a journalist.

This argumentation is nothing less than a strengthening of the freedom of the press in Germany. It has an impact on other journalists and publicists in the country who see themselves exposed to the reach of politics and academia. The ruling also says that freedom of the press is more important than the anticipatory obedience of various educational institutions that think they have to throw themselves at the mercy of ideologizing politics. Therefore, we are also dealing here with a rejection of ingratiation.

Kiel University as a War Party

Patrik Baab was a journalism lecturer in Kiel. There he taught research, critical questioning—in short: He showed what freedom of the press can achieve—and this at a university that has now received more or less official confirmation that it has not only failed to appreciate that very freedom of the press, but has torpedoed it. A fatal report card for the teaching institution. Can we hope that journalists trained there will have grasped, in the course of their studies, what the qualities of freedom of the press actually mean?

The administrative file on this incident, which is now available, is peppered with one-dimensional classifications of the Baab trip. The university protagonists quoted in it made themselves a war party in the matter. In effect, there is no mention of investigative openness as a value in itself—nor is there a brief interjection that journalists (should) go where it hurts.

But that’s exactly what Baab has done. Basically, he has shown his students—in exemplary fashion—what journalistic work means: not being satisfied with what other professional colleagues have already written, remaining suspicious, displaying skepticism and getting a picture of the scene for yourself. His employers, Kiel University, however, have now emphatically demonstrated that these values are not necessarily required at all—journalists who apply them tend to appear to be a nuisance, and they’d rather be shown the door.

Now What?

The aforementioned administrative file mentions several names of professors who were in lively exchange when Baab’s trip became known via t-online—a news portal, known for its campaigns against intellectuals critical of the German government, and belonging to an advertising group that receives a large part of its orders from exactly this government. Again and again, the accusation was made that Baab had the wrong attitude—and therefore he must be unsuitable as a lecturer. The fact that he did not get on with the job, i.e., with a completely strict condemnation of Russia, thus led to the charge that he also refrained from factual analysis. This is a reproach throughout. Yet Baab has condemned the Russian invasion several times—his condemnation, however, also does not paralyze his journalistic ethos.

After the court decision, which the CAU did not even object to, apparently knowing that it had overreached considerably, the question now arises: Who will take responsibility for this democratic and constitutional failure? Who will justify the fact that funds allocated by the public were wasted for such an act of political pandering?

For example, Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences at Kiel University, Christian Martin, who was heavily involved in Baab’s dismissal and who teaches comparative governance and politics? Shouldn’t one expect more sensitivity to publicity from a teacher in this subject, i.e., a sense of how journalism is done and where not to get in its way? After all, this case is no trifle; here, a university has proven that it is willing to sacrifice freedom of the press just to puff itself up as being politically correct. The danger of teaching attitude rather than expertise does not seem so small—especially when people like Baab are thrown out the door.

Roberto J. De Lapuente is a journalist who writes from Germany. He is the author of Rechts gewinnt, weil Links versagt [The Right Wins because the Left Fails]. This article appears through the kind courtesy of Overton Magazin.

Featured: The Seal of Kiel University, with the motto: “Pax optima rerum” (“Peace is the best thing”).

Academic Self-Alignment

The Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel (CAU) allows war apologists to teach under its roof, but excludes war correspondents—this is a tradition on the Kiel Fjord.

Universities were once intended as places for the free exchange of different ways of thinking—in the spirit of scientific truthfulness. Today, professors and lecturers are more like ministering spirits used by power when it is looking for someone who can express its narratives more intelligently. At present, war propaganda in particular is seeking academic consecration—and getting it. A particularly repulsive example is provided by a university in Kiel, which had already attracted attention earlier in history by shouting hurrahs when it was a matter of talking the country to get it ready for war.

The word “escalation phobia” is new. If you type it into Google and date the search before February 11, 2023, you will find: nothing. The creator of this unattractive term is Joachim Krause, professor at the Institute for Security Policy at Christian Albrechts University (CAU) in Kiel. This word monstrosity first appeared in an article for the Frankfurter Allgemeine (the FAZ). Escalation phobia, he wrote, is apparently a German disease. In other words, it’s a pity that the Germans don’t go into battle with a hurrah, as they did back in 1914—impressively portrayed, by the way, in the Oscar-winning hit film All Quiet on the Western Front.

The same commentators who provide a forum for an apologist of escalation are now rejoicing over the award for the anti-war film from German production. Germany really is a richly schizophrenic country. Also teaching at CAU, until recently, was Patrik Baab. That is, until he did something audacious—he wanted to check on location whether there might also be all quiet on the Eastern front. He went on a research trip as a journalist and came back an outlaw: You can read more about his case here. If only he had poured a little oil on the fire in the FAZ. Then he would still be a lecturer in Kiel, high up in the north, where people have always been lenient with those who pander to the authorities.

From Imperial War Haven to Obedience of Authority

If you want to trace the history of Germany in the 20th century, you might as well pick up a chronicle of the CAU—preferably one that was not written on behalf of the university. There, the entire German history is depicted, with its vile and boorish affects. The university, founded by Duke Christian Albrecht of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorf in 1665, found itself at the beginning of the century in the immediate vicinity of what was later called the primordial catastrophe of the 20th century: This refers to the First World War. But one facet that led into it was due to the German escalation policy of those years, specifically the Fleet Act.

In particular, Rear Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz excelled as a hawk in the years leading up to the turn of the century. His goal: to rearm the German fleet so that the German Reich could advance into the circle of world powers and explicitly compete with the British fleet. The Reich was—to use Bismarck’s phrase—a “saturated state;” but for some, that was not saturation enough. Until two years ago, Kiel’s naval base was also called Tirpitzhafen. But even before Tirpitz’s “offensive,” naval facilities had settled around the Kiel Fjord—for Kiel became an imperial port of war as early as 1871. For this reason, all kinds of shipyards were built there, and the maritime armaments industry in particular shaped the city and its people.

When the First World War began, many professors at Kiel University shouted hurrah and indoctrinated the young men with patriotic romanticism. Once again, a reference to the Oscar-winning film already mentioned above, such a scene of student and professorial exuberance was staged quite well by director Edward Berger. The scene is not set in Kiel, of course, for at that time universities were much the same in their national fervor throughout the Reich.

After the war, more precisely in 1920 during the Kapp Putsch, Kiel University set up an anti-democratic, monarchist and militaristic student company that engaged in firefights with the protection police and workers’ militia.

In his work, Der halbe Weg: Zwischenbilanz einer Epoche [Halfway There: An Interim Review of an Epoch], author Axel Eggebrecht reports on the events of that time: officers entered the university undisturbed and made it clear that “a new government had formed in Berlin”—the professors looked on. The authorities, they had learned in the city of the imperial war port, were always right—no matter who was in charge, no matter who was in charge of the armaments being manufactured on their doorstep.

The CAU and the CIA

We will gallantly skip the era of National Socialism, since of course the CAU was also aligned in thought and conviction. Universities throughout the Reich were not conspicuous in those years for their spirit of resistance; from the beginning of the movement, students belonged to those sociological groups that showed particular closeness to the soon-to-be and subsequently new rulers. In general, it is fair to say at this point that this history up to that point was not an exclusive unique selling point of the CAU: The proximity to the armaments industry and the soldiery may explain some things, but it happened in this or a similar way in many places in Germany.

Things become interesting with the post-war order, i.e., with the Cold War. The University of Kiel, unlike many universities in the young Federal Republic, was not a place of resistance, criticism of capitalism and fascism: there was a “secret service agent” in the ranks of the professorate. Author Katia H. Backhaus, in her study, “Zwei Professoren, zwei Ansätze. Die Kieler Politikwissenschaft auf dem Weg zum Pluralismus (1971 — 1998)” [“Two Professors, Two Approaches. Kiel Political Science on the Way to Pluralism (1971 – 1998),” found that the CAU faculty worked closely with German and also American intelligence services in the 1980s.

Professor Werner Kaltefleiter in particular has been proven to have been an unofficial collaborator of the BND and the CIA—with the latter he had apparently come into contact during his time at Harvard. According to Katia Backhaus, the BND also wanted to recruit students from Kiel in the 1970s. Kaltefleiter himself was a Cold Warrior who sought maximum confrontation with the Soviet Union.

He is also the founder of the Institute for Security Policy at Kiel University (ISPK)—it was “annexed as an institute of the Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel in 1983 by decision of the Schleswig-Holstein parliament.” But at that time there was fierce opposition in the form of the student council. As early as 1981, it stated: “We declare the most determined fight against all efforts to establish a cadre school for cold warriors at Kiel University.” The Institute itself, on the other hand, declares itself today to be an objective institution: “As an independent and non-profit institution, the ISPK is not beholden to any political party, other institutions or interest groups.”

War of Aggression is the Best Defense?

One must strongly doubt this neutrality sold as objectivity. Most recently, the ISPK, as already written, attracted unpleasant attention, more precisely its current director Joachim Krause. The man was at odds with the Germans, with the supposedly restrained federal government as well as with the people: Germany acutely suffers from “Escalation phobia”—as discussed above.

Twenty years ago, Professor Krause apparently also suffered from escalation phobia: To the agitated voices within German society, which accused the United States under the leadership of President George W. Bush of an attack in violation of international law and which demanded that the Republican President should be brought to the International Criminal Court, he replied in a highly de-escalating manner: All these accusations, which were made against Washington at that time, were grotesque—at least that is how one can interpret his work on this.

Krause’s analysis of this from 2003 can be read here. In the concluding remarks, it is stated “that U.S. policy toward Iraq (including the threat of regime change by force) is extraordinarily consistent with the international order of collective security and is also necessary.” And further, “The primary motive of U.S. policy is to put in its place a state that challenges the current international order like no other…” Iraq as the greatest global threat? Krause followed the scattered statements of various U.S. hawks, who already spoke unabashedly in the run-up to a possible invasion of Iraq that weapons of mass destruction were stored there. Later, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell presented falsified evidence to the UN Security Council.

Krause, of course, never had to justify his moral approval of a war of aggression based on lies. To this day, he has remained director of the ISPK, courted by the media as an important voice. Does the attitude of the ISPK in general testify to neutrality? Krause, at any rate, is on NATO lines; the history of his institute is a history of the Cold War: When someone from such a coterie speaks of “escalation phobia,” one should be careful—especially a university that is currently pretending to be washed in the purest of moral waters, as it would like us to believe in the case of Patrik Baab. Can a moral educational institution, as CAU wants to be, finance such a security professor such as Krause?

Process of Self-Alignment

Noam Chomsky wrote at one point that perhaps the greatest worry is that “the arena of rational discourse collapses precisely where there should be hope that it will be defended.” In this case, we have located such a place: a university, a place where—at least in theory—discourse should not only be nobly approved but, in a sense, should be natural and normal. The CAU may have always been a place that was not predestined for discourse: with the beginning of that sad German century that began with the founding of the Reich and that may not yet be over—take a look at foreign policy here—the CAU indulged in an unhealthy proximity to power, armaments and the military, so that openness to discourse was a difficult undertaking.

Historian Kurt Sontheimer wrote in “Antidemokratisches Denken in der Weimarer Republik” (1962) [“Antidemocratic Thought in the Weimar Republic”]:

“The political opinions and attacks of a group of publicists and intellectuals would not mean much for the political state of mind of a nation, if they remained confined only to small circles of malcontents and intellectual know-it-alls. A brief look at the political reality of the Weimar Republic, however, immediately shows that anti-democratic thinking was not a matter for esotericists. It served to ideologize numerous political groups and also parties that quite consciously worked to overcome liberal democracy.”

Comparisons to Weimar are often drawn these days, for completely different reasons, and often in order to declare the AfD a revenant of the NSDAP, which is now grinding away at democracy. But the basic features of liberal democracy are not being shredded by the AfD today. It is—to use Sontheimer’s phrase—the “publicists and intellectuals” who are ideologizing.

Another historian, Karl Dietrich Bracher, noted in his work, Die deutsche Diktatur (1969) [The German Dictatorship] that the self-alignment ranged from “constitutional lawyers to national economists, from historians to Germanists, from philosophers to natural scientists, from publicists to poets, musicians, visual artists.”

Bracher attributes this, among other things, to the “missionary idea of the Reich.” Something that can at least be guessed at today when a German foreign minister classifies the world as a field of activity for her moral vanities—and this to the applause of journalism and intellectuals, not least those who have been up to mischief at Kiel University for many decades now.

Roberto J. De Lapuente is a journalist who writes from Germany. He is the author of Rechts gewinnt, weil Links versagt [The Right Wins because the Left Fails]. This article appears through the kind courtesy of Rubikon.

Featured: The Fountains, by Hubert Robert; painted in 1787.

Journalism as an Offense: The Baab Case

If journalist Patrik Baab had spoken of Germans’ “escalation phobia,” he might still be doing his teaching job at Kiel University today. However, he was doing journalism: That is the worst reproach one can face today.

Journalists who have more than just attitude, namely professional ethics, are having a hard time these days. A current example: Seymour Hersh. Using an anonymous source, the American journalist has worked out who is to be held responsible for the attacks on Nord Stream I and II—namely, the US Navy and Norway. The German press pounced on this eminence of American investigative journalism, making the man look like a novice. The criticism came from “colleagues,” journalists who spend most of their working lives sitting at desks or copying from each other.

They are rather unfamiliar with field studies. For them, journalistic work simply means accepting prefabricated opinions, only questioning them when instructed to do so. When the U.S. government denied Hersh’s report, these critics of Hersh accepted the denial as a credible opinion—here their journalistic intuition once again ended abruptly.

Much like Hersh, German journalist Patrik Baab has fared similarly in the recent past. He left his desk to do something that contemporary journalism in Germany hardly ever does anymore—get an impression on the ground. In the end, that is exactly what he is accused of. As a journalist, it is apparently advisable in these times and lands, to remain dutifully seated in front of one’s laptop and do research on Wikipedia and in the vastness of Twitter. But never in eastern Ukraine.

Baab in Eastern Ukraine

NDR journalist Patrik Baab was on the road in eastern Ukraine last September. The reason for his trip there—research for a book project. For him, taking a close look at conditions on the ground is part of the journalistic standard, as he also points out in his book Recherchieren. Ein Werkzeugkasten zur Kritik der herrschenden Meinung [Research: A Toolbox for the Critique of Prevailing Opinion]. At that time, those controversial referendums were taking place in Luhansk, Donetsk and Kherson, which were supposed to allow the regions to join the Russian Federation. Baab was present. He observed the events on the ground as a journalist—but not, as he was subsequently accused, as an election observer.

Usually, election observers are appointed or invited. Patrik Baab never received such an invitation; to a certain extent, he was there on his own behalf. As a researcher and curious journalist. Nevertheless, the reaction followed promptly: A report by Lars Wienand for the news portal of t-online drew attention to the fact that an NDR reporter—Baab—was acting as an election observer at those referendums and thus legitimizing Russia’s controversial approach.

In other words, a journalist was reproached for doing his job. If the mere presence of a journalist at critical events led to the legitimization of these events, then—viewed dialectically—reporting in the true sense would no longer be conceivable. Because the journalist would already be an influencing factor qua existence, who could no longer act as a chronicler of events, but would only change events through his presence. Perhaps this is the reason why on-site research is becoming increasingly rare today—because they want to stay out of it—which would be tantamount to an oath of revelation for the profession.

Decision, After a Few Minutes

Baab was promptly accused of having aligned himself with Putin’s cause. His visit to eastern Ukraine was proof of that. Patrik Baab himself distances himself from Russia’s war against Ukraine. His CV as an NDR reporter includes countless films and features that report critically about and from Russia—and thus do not make the Russian leadership look good. Infosperber has linked to some of Baab’s productions under an article on the case: They prove that the journalist always kept a sober distance in regards to Russia—professionally speaking.

Although the accusation that Patrik Baab was present as an election observer cannot be verified (here, election observers have their say, Baab was not present and also not invited), the Hochschule für Medien, Kommunikation und Wirtschaft (HMKW) in Berlin distanced itself from Baab. In the past, the journalist had often worked there as a lecturer. Among other things, the HMKW’s justification stated that Baab was “providing a welcome fig leaf for the aggressors.” In addition, he was engaging in “journalistic sham objectivity”—the HMKW statement can be read here. Interesting is the introduction of the justification report, in which they speaks of having learned of the matter only “a few minutes ago, through the article, Scheinreferendum, hurra, by Lars Wienand (”—after minutes they had already decided? That doesn’t sound like a prudent approach, more like a favorable moment for people who want to make a political example.

Since Patrik Baab did not have a valid contract with HMKW, he could not take action against this decision of a few minutes. In the case of the Christian-Albrechts-University in Kiel (CAU), the situation is somewhat different. It withdrew his teaching contract one week after HMKW. The reason—factually the same. Apparently, they didn’t even bother to contact Baab in advance. The reason given by CAU was that there was “imminent danger.” One puzzles over what this is supposed to mean: Baab was standing with tanks in front of Kiel—that’s not possible, because the tanks heading for Ukraine are not in front of Kiel, they are in Kiel.

In this matter an appeal is now pending, the “revocation of the teaching activity” seems to be unfounded for many reasons. Baab was not an election observer, he was doing his job: CAU has demonstrated a lack of due diligence in checking press reports on Baab’s trip. It has done exactly what Baab, as a journalist, urgently warns against—it has adopted unverified allegations.

Kiel University: Followers, by Tradition—and More

Without going into the historical misdeeds of CAU in depth, Kiel University has a tradition of having a rather divided relationship to democratic standards—to put it kindly. In 1914, for example, it excelled in jingoistic patriotism, and years later it supported the Kapp Putsch with a Freikorps (the author Axel Eggebrecht gave a very vivid account of this in his book, Der halbe Weg. Zwischenbilanz einer Epoche), and not only did not stand aside in 1933, but clearly encouraged professors to support the new rulers. Moreover, the author Katia H. Backhaus, in her work, Zwei Professoren, zwei Ansätze. Die Kieler Politikwissenschaft auf dem Weg zum Pluralismus (1971—1998) [Two Professors, Two Approaches. Kiel Political Science on the Way to Pluralism (1971—1998)], elaborated that CAU faculty worked closely with intelligence services (with German and also American ones) in the 1980s.

This historical dimension of CAU will be addressed separately in the near future, as it deserves further consideration. It should be remembered, however, that a professor by the name of Joachim Krause from the Institute for Security Policy at the University of Kiel recently attracted attention. He recently called for escalation and spoke of an “escalation phobia” in large parts of the German population. Krause has admittedly not even been reprimanded by CAU. In retrospect, there would be at least one more reason to do so.

Twenty years ago, Krause justified the war of aggression by the United States and the British against Iraq, which violated international law. Krause’s 2003 analysis bears eloquent witness; it can be read here. In the concluding remarks, one reads “that the U.S. policy toward Iraq (including the threat of regime change by force) is extraordinarily consistent with the international order of collective security and is also necessary.” And further: “The primary motive of U.S. policy is to put a state in its place that challenges the current international order like no other.” Obviously Krause let himself be influenced with this statement by those hawks of U.S. policy who at that time were already talking about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and whose insistence resulted in that lying appearance of Colin Powell before the UN Security Council.

War of Aggression by the USA: No Selfish Energy Interests

Critics, who even then spoke of an unlegitimized war of aggression, were immediately rebuffed by Krause. He wrote: “There is no evidence to support the assumption that U.S. policy is primarily guided by selfish energy interests.” The French and Russians, however, are different, being oriented “by very narrowly defined financial interests in oil exploration in Iraq.” The U.S. foreign policy, so Krause explained at that time quite unabashedly, acts for reasons of good intentions—just imagine if someone would want to accuse Putin or Russia in general of that today.

CAU accuses Patrik Baab of not doing his journalistic work properly because he is biased—at least, that is the quintessence that one has to come to, if one takes a look at the reasoning. But an academic who works in security policy and at the same time talks about “escalation phobia”: How does that go together? Is that the choice of words of someone who specializes in security policy issues? Why does Krause not accuse anyone of failing in their task?

If Patrik Baab had spoken of escalating the war to the point of a potential nuclear strike, he would be blithely lecturing in Kiel today. His offense was that he did not allow himself to be turned into an academic utility idiot, but pursued his work ethos—he does not postulate any ideological empty words, but does what he knows how to do: Reporting.

Basically, this seems to be—as already touched upon above—the worst accusation that one can currently be confronted with. For quite some time, journalism has been understood as something that constructively accompanies the structures of power. It is not implemented as a corrective, but rather takes up the banner of guiding politics through everyday life. If possible, without causing too much of a stir. Synonymous with this development are the legions of journalists who serve as so-called fact checkers. Their task is not to bring facts to light, but to create facts that support and back up political guidelines or decisions. By definition, the fact check should be open-ended: However, if you start with an intention, there can be no drawing back; rather, everything is already closed off and fenced in.

Real Journalism: Endangering the Way Things are Going

Journalists like Patrik Baab come from a different time, when it was still considered natural to even sometimes antagonize the powerful or even just one’s own editor. Of course, journalists are narcissistic, a fact that Patrik Baab himself confirms in his book mentioned above: They always want—and wanted—to make a big deal about themselves. In other days, this was achieved by an investigative coup, by a piece of information that was difficult to bring to light and that could be presented. Today, you make a splash by supporting narratives that business and politics want to establish. In this new sense, Baab is admittedly a bad journalist—precisely because he is a good journalist.

Some students at Kiel University have also recognized this. They are demanding justice for Baab. Their statement on a small Telegram channel about the “Baab Affair” [Affäre Baab] reads” “Comprehensive research that illuminates all angles is a journalistic quality characteristic and not a moral crime. We therefore demand Patrik Baab’s immediate reinstatement at CAU.” Julian Hett, initiator of the burgeoning resistance against CAU’s actions also told me: “The t-online article gave false factual claims, which have since been corrected. Thus, it was clear for me: reputation before truth! The last three years of Covid politics at the university have already shown me in which direction the whole thing is developing. Therefore, there is an urgent need for reforms that put truth back in the center and allow debates, even if they are controversial. Instead, however, efforts are being made to introduce gender language in an all-encompassing way.”

The Baab case shows that journalism is an offense these days. But only if it is carried out with all due diligence. Those who play journalism from their desks because they are halfway capable of comprehending dpa reports are sitting on the safe side of a profession that is in the process of finally abolishing itself. To prevent this, it is imperative that the expertise of a man like Baab not be lost. He should not be one of the last of his kind—he still has a lot to show many young people whose dream job is journalism. To stop letting him teach ultimately means losing his expertise. Only people who see journalism as court-reporting can want that: And these are the forces of counter-enlightenment.

Roberto J. De Lapuente is a journalist who writes from Germany. He is the author of Rechts gewinnt, weil Links versagt [The Right Wins because the Left Fails]. This article appears through the kind courtesy of neulandrebellen.

Featured: Man in a Bowler Hat, by Rene Magritte; painted in 1964.