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Cohn-Bendit's Challenge

Daniel Cohn-Bendit
Dany Cohn-Bendit was a leading figure in both the French
and the German Greens. Photo: Kenji-Baptiste OIKAWA

The debate over Bosnia, where war erupted in 1992, plunged the pacifist-minded Green party into turmoil. As the atrocities in Bosnia mounted despite round after round of international mediation, a handful of dissident Greens led by Daniel Cohn-Bendit, at that time head of the department for multicultural affairs in the city of Frankfurt, demanded tougher international measures to halt the Serb onslaught–including military force.

In June 1993 in Die Tageszeitung, Cohn-Bendit showed zero sympathy for their [the Greens'] soul searching: "Shame on us! We, the generation that held our parents' generation in such contempt because of its political cowardice, now we watch on seemingly helpless, powerless and yet still holier-than-thou as the Bosnian Muslims are ethnically cleansed." He reminded his former co-revolutionaries of the way the world watched on when fascist forces crushed the Spanish republicans (1936), invaded Czechoslovakia (1938), put down the Warsaw Ghetto uprising (1943), and murdered Europe's Jewry at Auschwitz and Treblinka. "Now we're part of this glorious tradition!" he fumed. "Where are the smart asses now who talked so loud about an entirely different approach to politics? Where are the internationalists who in the name of socialism supported every, and I mean every, terrorist or pacifist movement in Salvador, Nicaragua and everywhere else?" And it isn't just Greens, he underscored, who have bowed to Serbia's nationalist thugs but the entire republic.

[pp. 234, 235-236]

Joschka Fischer and the Making of the Berlin Republic. 2007. [Oxford University Press]

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