The Death of Ohnesorg


It was the year of political turmoil all over the world. But average students in Germany would never have been moved to action to participate in the 1968 protest movement were it not for one iconic photo taken on 2nd June 1967.

Above image of a woman cradling the head of a slain unarmed demonstrator by a police officer in West Berlin set off a left-wing protest movement that transformed conservative West Germany into the progressive country it has become today. It became a chief justification for violence by terrorist groups but it was influenced a left-wing movement (Movement 2 Juni) named after the day of his death, and a large number of German politicians who were in their teens and twenties at the time.

The police officer who delivered the fatal shot, Karl-Heinz Kurras admitted that the shooting the demonstrator, Benno Ohnesorg of was an accident. Although it had been recently revealed that Mr. Kurras was in the pay of the East German secret police, known as the Stasi, it is not clear whether Stasi ordered him to shoot Ohnesorg or Kurras’ act was indeed accidental. However, Kurras was cleared of all charges in two separate trials.

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