From Student Riots to Feminist Firebombs: Debates about “Counterviolence” in the West German Student Movement and Women’s Movement
- Women in German Yearbook: Feminist Studies in German Literature & Culture
- University of Nebraska Press
- Volume 32, 2016
- pp. 50-75
- Additional Information
Drawing on theories of political violence and postcolonial feminist thought, this article analyzes discussions about violent resistance in strands of the student movement and women’s movement in the Federal Republic of Germany. In the late 1960s, Rudi Dutschke and other leading thinkers in the antiauthoritarian wing of the student movement argued that counterviolence in the form of symbolic attacks against property was a legitimate response to state repression and violence. In the 1970s, the militant feminist group Rote Zora (Red Zora) adapted this notion of counterviolence to fight for the cause of women. This article shows that discussions about counterviolence have developed and changed as a result of debates within the two movements and in response to broader social and political developments. Although both concepts of counterviolence have reﬂected and reinforced existing patterns of discrimination and marginalization, the ways in which they were used by some activists sparked critical debates about the scope and limits of political protest.