Controversial panel with Tellkamp: No lesson in democracy

Author Tellkamp meets Prime Minister Kretschmer. Conspiracies and doubts about the Reichsbürger raid are expressed. Nobody wants to argue.

Author Uwe Tellkamp and the Saxon Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer shake hands

No argument, dear harmony: Author Tellkamp and Prime Minister Kretschmer in Berlin Photo: dpa

BERLIN taz | “Why not?” asks Conrad Clemens, head of the representation of the Free State of Saxony to the federal government, right at the beginning of the event. In the past few weeks, people have been invited to a preview of a “contemplative Erzgebirge crime story”, then to a “beautiful Christmas concert”. And now comes Uwe Tellkamp, ​​an “artist” and the “most famous Saxon author”, a “fine observer of the political establishment”, to first read from his new novel and then to discuss it with Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer (CDU).

“An open debate. The Berlin discourse can withstand that,” says Clemens. He assures that everything in his house “always takes place on the basis of the free-democratic basic order”. With these words, Clemens tries to start the heated debate about the invitation of the controversial author Tellkamp to capture

Was that the case on Thursday evening and was it successful? Party friends Kretschmer and Clemens were well aware of the provocation associated with an event with Tellkamp. A Facebook post from the previous day by the bookseller Susanne Dagen, close to the pegida, underlined this again: Dagen, Tellkamp and Ellen Kositza, wife and comrade-in-arms of the ultra-right journalist Götz Kubitschek from Schnellroda, in one picture. In addition, the announcement of the next episode of a video format on discussions about literature in a series in which Martin Sellner from the Identitarian Movement was a guest.

On Thursday in the Saxony representation, Dagen will be sitting in the front row in one of the seats reserved for guests of honour. Right next to Tellkamp’s parents and she is warmly greeted by the celebrities present. The moderator Martin Machowecz, head of the “Streit” department of the weekly newspaper The timewill briefly cause discord when he speaks to Tellkamp about Dagen’s posting.

Tellkamp is asked, Tellkamp scolds

They want to show him that the question is “disgraceful,” the writer retorted, complaining about what he considers an unjustified “contact guilt” accusation. And explains: “In the democratic spectrum, every opinion should have its voice. Why do I have to justify what I do or don’t do in my free time?”

Otherwise, Tellkamp says a lot of things that he has been saying in one way or another for many months: he compares them Conditions in today’s Federal Republic with those in the GDR. He does not use the term totalitarianism literally, in his special literary German he says that “totalitarian truths shimmer in the country” and that there is a “totalitarian will towards dissidents”.

He uses the term “leader” several times. Tellkamp says that of course it’s not about Hitler, but for example the “Corona expertise” is also “in a certain way leadership”. The author phrased some things almost verbatim when he was available to right-wing blogger Boris Reitschuster for a one and a quarter hour video interview a few days ago. For example, that the people in the GDR mistrusted the lead deserts in the newspapers in a similar way as many do the established media in the Federal Republic today.

Bush radio is becoming more important, that’s how it used to be, he says. At Reitschuster he also praised various parallel media such as Vera Lengsfeld’s blog or the axis of good out. In the Saxony representation he pays tribute to the World-Reporter Tim Röhn, who was the only one who “seriously questioned” the given narratives on Corona reporting.

Lots of fodder for conspiracy theories

And also to them Raids on the Reichsbürger scene Tellkamp lets out. He doubts (“How do you know that?” he replies to the moderator) that there really were plans for a coup. He speaks of a “Reichsbürger conspiracy” and blames Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD). Tellkamp says that Revolution Chemnitz – a right-wing terrorist group – in 2018 was just “a few Hanseln with an airgun”.

In other words: that Action against right-wing extremists is in reality often an overreaction by the state, which wants to “impose a bear” on the people. The climate activist Luisa Neubauer is “not approached comparatively,” he adds. Moderator Machowecz asks whether he seriously wants to compare it. Tellkamp wants. He considers the demands of climate activists to be unscientific and says that “the communists” in the GDR have already asserted their interests with methods similar to those of Neubauer.

The hand-picked audience – there are a good 100 people in the hall – accepts almost everything Tellkamp says with almost no objection. Again and again there is intermittent applause and only rarely grumbling from individuals. Only one person seriously disrupts the harmonious meeting: Frank Richter, ex-civil rights activist, former head of the Saxon state center for political education, now a member of the SPD state parliament.

“I’m concerned about the ability to connect thinking to the far right,” he criticizes. Tellkamp brusquely rejects the criticism that Richter is not entitled to it. “It’s not my fault who resonates with this,” he says, referring to the great popularity he gets in right-wing circles.

Kretschmer does not drive Tellkamp into the parade

The head of government and CDU state chairman Kretschmer puts into perspective some of Tellkamp’s statements, but he doesn’t seriously blame him. In contrast to Tellkamp, ​​the CDU politician says that he is “very happy” about the success of the investigation among the Reich citizens: “These power of conspiracy theories I wouldn’t have thought it possible.” In these circles, “confused things” would be formulated: “It’s really dangerous.”

But then, like Tellkamp, ​​he talks about what he has observed Radicalization among climate activists. Neither the audience nor the stage want a conflict that evening.

Kretschmer defends his dialogue concept, in which Tellkamp is just one in a long line. It was correct that the then Saxon CDU Minister of the Interior, Markus Ulbig, had met the leaders of Pegida in 2015, and that he himself had discussions with Corona demonstrators in the Great Garden in Dresden in 2020.

When he later met with the lateral thinker icons Sucharit Bhakdi and Stefan Homburg at a round table, it even “opened his eyes in many respects,” says Kretschmer. Talking to each other does not mean that you “talk by mouth, but that you deal with them”. According to his own words, the Saxon CDU man only wants to draw red lines if the public prosecutor or the Office for the Protection of the Constitution specify so. The basic rule is: “If we don’t talk to each other anymore, how is that supposed to work?”

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