20 August 2013

A Bearer of Suffering, a victim, or somebody else?

      ''An old wine salesman, who lived beneath us, made the most of the fact that I had no dad. He made sure I had pocket money for the cinema, gave me sweets and footballs, and protected me from the fists of the sons of the workers. I went down to see him almost every evening, and we played chess. Come up on my lap, said Uncle Hofmann, taking off his sweaty shirt with its starched collar. Then he grabbed my willy fast through my trousers, kissed me with his stubble, smelling of hair cream, whispering filthy stuff in my ear, which I didn't understand at first, bullied me into fishing his floppy, old-man-member out of his flies, to work at it tediously, up and down, up and down, til it swelled up to an impressive size, and finally forced this badly perfumed cock between my teeth. I can still hear him groaning in the corner by the stove, while his frothy sperm flew into a hankie. Until his wife suddenly threw open the door and gave him an angry look, to which he replied in a jittery voice, and made the next chess-move.
      Fear and a guilty feeling. Disgust, right up to the point of throwing up, but also an experience of sexual desire. After a time I started to enjoy it. A friendship between men. A father at last. For a long time my mother didn't notice anything. And even after the man had to move out, we went on meeting secretly. I sat behind him on the motor-bike, my arms round him, on our way to motor-way lay-byes and clearings in the woods. We did it on the grass beside country roads, on waxed leather sofas, and in an Opel Olympia. I began to masturbate.''

(This is my own English translation of a passage from Michael Buselmeier's novel Der Untergang von Heidelberg – The Fall of Heidelberg, pub. 1981, by Suhrkamp. This excerpt from p.147-148. I refer to the German law of Zitatrecht for my right to quote in translation from this work, and acknowledge Suhrkamp's complete rights to the work.)
This passage from Michael Buselmeier's explicitly autobiographical novel Der Untergang von Heidelberg describes a biographical experience of a 12 or 13 year old boy – whether from the author's own biography or not we can not say with one hundred percent certainty, but definitely somebody's very real life experience. The narrator clearly suffers as a result of the experience – ''Disgust, right up to the point of throwing up'' – but it's also worth noting that the author gives it relatively little weight. In a 209 page book, chock-full of disturbing, happy and revealing experiences from the narrator's youth and mid-life, he only mentions the above experience in two paragraphs, allocating it less than a page in the book total.

The fact that adults, and these are 99% men, have in the past and continue to sexually abuse children causes indescribable amounts of suffering. I know noone who would dispute this, and I know noone who doesn't think it right that Germany and other civilized countries have strong laws to try and stop this happening. These facts, however, do not justify the current witch-hunt against members of the German Green Party for daring to think and discuss something different to the mainstream about the subject of child sexual abuse in the early 1980s. Spearheading this witch-hunt is the Hamburg daily paper the Hamburger Abendblatt, who have published headlines like 'The Green Party's Paedophile Past' in the last 10 days. Please take a look, for example, at the article The Green's Dark Inheritance (Das dunkle Erbe der Grünen - available free, online)  from 14.8.2013.

Yes, there should be a serious debate about the discussions among The German Green Party in the early 1980s. That won't happen however if the Abendblatt continues stigmatising, incorrectly, anyone who ever dared to think differently about this subject with the word 'paedophile.'

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