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On the death of Bernd Heidbreder

And always the same image. One has two eyes too many. Sometimes, only at night, you think you know the way. Maybe we always return the path which we have laboriously won in the alien sun at night. It could be. The sun is heavy, as with us in the deep summer. But we said goodbye during the summer. The women’s dresses shine for a long time from the green. And now we ride along. So it must be autumn. At least there, where sad women know about us.

Rainer Maria Rilke

How is it possible to write about someone you last saw more than a quarter of a century ago and whom you didn’t really know back then, even though you had experienced so much together? How to explain it, those crazy times when we all had one foot in prison every day and still went to bed every night with peace of mind. I recently met an old companion by chance right in front of my apartment building in Kreuzberg, and we talked about “the three” from K.O.M.I.T.E.E., about old connections that were cut off because of the escape, about the twisted paths that some of the old companions used to keep in touch with the comrades over the years. There is still much that cannot be told publicly, even if it seems that the efforts of the German judiciary to get hold of the three do not seem to be crowned with success at the moment. A few months ago, the initiative “Bring The Boys Back Home” was even born, with the aim of enabling the three to return to Germany legally.

Originally published by Sunzi Bingfa. Translated by Riot Turtle.

Video with Bernd Heidbreder (with Irie Revoltés t-shirt)

Because being on the run, exile also means the loss of the opportunity to see loved ones, your own parents are getting older, at some point you begin to count the days that may still be left to take them in your arms once again. Bernd has been in extradition custody in Venezuela for almost 1.5 years due to an international arrest warrant from the German repressive authorities, for a long time it was not clear how the whole affair would end, after all Venezuelan security forces had carried out the arrest in cooperation with German target investigators [1] . And while grassroots organizations in Venezuela such as the influential Coordinadora Simón Bolívar (CSB) campaigned for Bernd’s release, the government itself seemed highly ambivalent on the matter. And at the latest, the deportation of Cesare Battisti to Italy made it clear that “leftist” governments in Latin America are also willing, in case of doubt, to make dirty deals with Western European countries and to put comrades to the sword, if necessary even in violation of international law. Well, in October 2015 the decision was finally made not to extradite Bernd to Germany. But this was not the end of the story of the persecution of the three comrades. In November 2019, Peter Krauth was arrested at the airport of El Vigía. He was on his way to Caracas to pick up friends from Germany. The basis was again the international arrest warrant, which had been renewed by the Federal Prosecutor’s Office in August 2019, 24 years (!) after the attempted attack on the new building of the deportation prison in Berlin Grünau. At that time, all three had already gone through two- to three-year procedures to get the status of political refugees. In March 2020, Peter was then released.

In February of this year, the “Commission for the Control of Files” (CCF) of Interpol withdrew the so-called Red Flag order against Thomas Walter, based on the complaint of his lawyer. Justified with the still (!) running asylum procedure in Venezuela. This decision does not cancel the arrest warrant of the Federal Supreme Court, but the search outside Europe had to be stopped as a result. So there was growing hope after more than a quarter of a century, “bring the boys back home”. Perhaps there would be a way for the three to return unpunished and unbroken, even if only for a few days. This was exactly what the new initiative aimed at, building up the political pressure to break this extermination interest of the German repressive apparatus, repentance or life-long hunt.

Bernd will not be able to return, even if only for a few days. He died of cancer a few days ago. And I want to tell you about someone I didn’t really know. I don’t know what kind of music he liked, what movies he watched, who his favorite authors were. I don’t really know much about Bernd Heidbreder, there are only these partly blurred memories, of meetings in the middle of the night in remote places, to do necessary things, to dispute Nazis their terrain, there are the memories of this block, which was made up of some connections and rocked this city powerfully for a few years. And nothing with macho militancy, several militant, feminist women’s groups belonged to this circle, and you could count on them the most when things got tough, like Bernd and his group. Because our militancy came above all from the love of life and from the hatred of this broken system that co-organized and financed the genocide in the Trikont, that imprisoned people who had succeeded in escaping from these conditions and wars in order to deport them again. For this purpose, the new building of the deportation prison in Berlin Grünau was designed, in whose architecture the experiences from the solitary confinement against the political prisoners were implemented in the same way as in the new women’s prison that they erected in Plötzensee.

So I can’t tell you much personally about Bernd, and yet I have to write about him, just as I dedicated my first political novel to the Three from K.O.M.I.T.E.E.. Because all the blurred memories have stayed with me all these decades. Because we all know that we were just a little more lucky on one day or another, or on one night or another, and that’s why we haven’t been hounded by federal prosecutors for a quarter of a century. And because from these shared experiences that we had at that time, something has emerged that is very inadequately described with solidarity. For a long time, for obvious reasons, there were no current pictures of Bernd and the others. Only old mugshots resulting from ID treatments [2] and passport photos. However, since a few years, since the three “officially” showed up in Venezuela and asked for asylum, there were new pictures again, I did not have to rely on my blurred memories anymore. There is even a wonderful movie “Gegen den Strom” (Against the Current), but somehow the old blurry images are still much more alive in me. Not that I’m really surprised about that.

I don’t know what Bernd would say to my lines, maybe he would slap them in my face. Perhaps because completely different things would be important to him or because he would not like to see himself, his life and his death, as an object of such public announcements. Did not want to be seen like…? How do I manage to talk about him in the past. All this time he has been part of my past, one of the many ghosts that walk through my subconscious. And yet so present. And now… We’ll never get to have a beer together, he’ll never get to slap me in the face about my loud-mouthedness, my vanity, and all my other flaws that also show up in this text. That’s really sad. Still, bring the boys back home! So they can hug their loved ones, even if there are only two of them left. Thank you Bernd, for everything, for always reminding me of myself just by your insistence on what we were, where we came from, thousands of miles away, on another continent. Take care comrade.

Out of the fog: Sebastian Lotzer.


[1] A target investigator (German Zielfahnder) is a cop that is searching for fugitives. In Germany there is a special fugitive unit carrying out this kind of searches.

[2] ID treatment (German: erkennungsdienstliche Behandlung): taking of identification material (from a person); taking of a person’s photographs, fingerprints, and samples.

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