Notebook

Unchannelled Energy

In an interview from 2018, Bettina Röhl, daughter of Ulrike Meinhof, has interesting things to say about the myth of 1968 as the context for her mother’s revolutionary terrorism. The key figures of the movement, she contends, had for the most part had a privileged youth and were not acting out of WW2-induced trauma: ‘I think this time was full of energy. The West saw an explosion of culture, in music, in fashion. In a misjudgement of what was happening in China, the generation of ’68 confused this remarkable development in the West with the genocidal Chinese culture revolution, envisaged as a model. […] Representatives of ’68 like Gerd Koenen and Götz Aly speak of an unbearable lightness of being. They filled this perceived emptiness with ideologies, with Marx and Mao. This is one point at which I’m inclined to attribute a certain guilt to the then BRD. There was such progress and upward movement, but clearly no spiritual and moral superstructure. Young people are on the search for sense. And so the Revolution became fashionable, and a phantasm.’ Insights to ponder.