W. German cop behind fatal 1967 shooting was a spy, documents show

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
On June 2, 1967, West German police opened fire on leftist students demonstrating against a visit to Berlin by the Shah of Iran. One of the shots fired by the police killed student protester Benno Ohnesorg. His killing was dubbed in Germany “the shot that changed the republic”. It had a major role in radicalizing the West German student movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s and directly sparked the creation of the militant student organization Red Army Faction –also known as the Baader-Meinhof Group. But a group of researchers working at Germany’s Office of the Federal Commissioner Preserving the Records of the Ministry for State Security of the German Democratic Republic (BStU), led by archivist Marianne Birthler, now claim they have discovered that the West German police officer who fired the shot that killed Ohnesorg was actually an East German spy. They say the officer, Karl-Heinz Kurras, was a West German communist who in 1950 tried to defect to East Germany, but was “persuaded to stay with the police in West Berlin and spy for the Stasi”, the name commonly used by the Ministry for State Security, communist East Germany’s secret police. The researchers say that Kurras’ official entry into the Stasi archives, under the name “Otto Bohl”, began in 1955 and had reached approximately 7,000 pages by the time of Benno Ohnesorg’s killing. Interesting, the Stasi appears to have abruptly terminated contact with Kurras right after the shooting, which may point to the possibility that Ohnesorg’s killing was not part of a premeditated East German plan to radicalize the West German student movement. Kurras, who was acquitted of manslaughter charges in 1967 and 1970, is still alive today and continues to maintain that Ohnesorg’s killing was an accident.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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