Wielandkommune

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Wielandkommune

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The Wielandkommune (commune in the Wielandstrasse) was a militant left-wing commune in West Berlin, 1968 – 1969. In contrast to the other communes Kommune1 and Kommune 2 which had many communards with student and academic backgrounds, the members of the Wielandkommune saw their commune as a proletarian group, and indeed a number of its members were Rockers who came from the West Berlin working class.

Contents

Premises and members:

The Wielandkommune was in a house in the Wieland Strasse in Berlin – Charlottenburg. The official tenant was Otto Schily, who was later one of the lawyers for the Red Army Fraction and even later the SPD Minister of the Interior. The commune began with group of university students, but soon a new group moved in. Members included Michael “Bommi” Baumann [1] and Georg-von-Rauch [2]. The commune consisted of between 10 and 20 people including 3 children. They shared 8 rooms and one room was a common bedroom. (Sexual shyness was soon forgotten).

Finances:

The members of the Wielandkommune financed themselves through printing unauthorised copies of socialist and anarchist political “classics” (such as Bakunin’s “Complete Works”) and works on psychiatry and psychology (such as works by Wilhelm Reich) and selling them to West Berlin students. This was a quite widespread activity within the german new-left of the time, as many of the texts were unavailable. Many older copies of the books had been destroyed by the nazis, and main-stream West German publishers were un-interested in re-printing such works.
In addition, they fed themselves on goods obtained by shoplifting in supermarkets (so-called “proletarian shopping”). On one occasion they invited the father of one of the communards to come to dinner in the hope that he would give them money. However, they fed him so well on stolen caviar and champagne that he said that he himself did not have such a high living standard and that he would give them nothing.

Ideology:

The members of the Wielandkommune believed that events of the previous couple of years, including the fatal police shooting of Benno Ohnesorg [3]on 2.June 1967 and the press campaign against Rudi Dutschke [4] which ended in an attempt on his life on 11.April 1968, showed that the german state apparatus was always ready to use force and show its fascist side when it was threatened. Their conclusion was that a revolution was not possible without violent resistance to state violence.
Furthermore, they believed that the main struggle was no longer that of the working class in industrial countries against capitalism but rather that of the exploited “3rd World” against (US) imperialism. The western working class collaborated with and benefited from the exploitation of the “3rd World”, but a conscious avant garde in the western cities could support the struggle. The theoretical background for the ideas of the Wieland communards came from books by Robert William, Regis Debray, Che Guevara and Mao.

The first actions:

Members of the Wielandkommune became more and more involved in protest actions and militant demonstrations. Molotov cocktails started to be used by various left-wing groups during street fighting. Within the Wielandkommune there formed a group that was to be one of the first urban guerrilla cells in West Berlin. During a visit to West Berlin by US President Nixon, they placed a bomb somewhere along the route his car was to take. They saw this as a warning rather than an attempt on his life, as they were sure that his armoured limosine would not be damaged by the small charge. In the event, the bomb did not go off as there was a broken fuse cable. Members of the group went back and collected it. Two days later the Wielandkommune was raided by the police, but they did not find the bomb (which was hidden in a fridge!). On the other hand, a similar bomb was found in a police raid on the Kommune 1, and 2 K1 members, Kunzel and Langhans, were arrested. It later became known that the material for the bombs, and many of the molotov cocktails, had been supplied to the communards by an undercover agent provocateur, Peter Urbach, who worked for the West Berlin Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Verfassungsschutz Behörde) – a sort of secret service. Urbach also had contact with members of what was to become the Red Army Fraction.

Members of the Wielandkommune were later to become members of the “Tupamaros West Berlin” and “Bewegung 2.Juni” urban guerrilla groups.

The Wielandkommune breaks up:

There were increasing difficulties within the group over the development of the commune. Some members believed that the commune should stick to communal living and sexual politics. Others believed that the way forward was through increased militance within society – which meant eventually going underground and taking up the armed struggle. These differences within the group lead to the break up of the Wielandkommune.

Sources:

Von der K1 zur Wielandkommune“, “Bommi” Baumann, in the anthology, “Kommunen und Wohngemeinschaften“, Edited by Johann August Schülein, Focus Verlag, Giessen, 1978.

Articles in German Wikipedia[5] about “Bommi” Baumann, Georg-von-Rauch, Peter Urbach and the “Zentralrat der umhershweifenden Haschrebellen”.