The Radical Decree was once intended to prevent infiltration of the state – but it destroyed many careers. Those affected demand rehabilitation. Winfried Kretschmann apologizes to the victims.
Around 50 years after the radical decree was passed, Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann apologized to those unjustly affected.
“An entire generation was suspected, that was wrong. Individuals may then have been rightly sanctioned, but some may not have been,” writes the Green politician in a letter to those affected, which is available to the German Press Agency. “They have unjustly experienced suffering through opinion hearings, professional bans, lengthy court proceedings, discrimination or unemployment. As Prime Minister of the State of Baden-Württemberg, I very much regret that.” So far, no head of government of a country has made such a statement, the state ministry said.
The Radical Decree of 1972 was intended to prevent infiltration of the state. The danger from the left worried the then young Federal Republic. The decision by the first Social Democratic chancellor, Willy Brandt, and the prime ministers of the federal states stipulated, among other things, that an inquiry had to be made to the Office for the Protection of the Constitution before anyone was hired in the public sector. In this way, the state apparatus was to be protected from possible enemies of the constitution.
People were deprived of life perspectives
The federal government and the social-democratic states withdrew from the decision as early as 1979. Bavaria was the last federal state to abolish it in 1991. How many people were affected has not been finally clarified to this day. According to the Hamburg Research Center for Contemporary History, the estimates range from 1.8 to 3.5 million inquiries from the Office for the Protection of the Constitution. Nationwide, around 1,000 to 2,000 people were not hired. As a result, many people lost their career and life perspectives.
In the letter, Kretschmann writes that the Radical Decree has done far more harm than good. “A large part of the young generation at that time came under the general suspicion of not being loyal to the constitution,” he emphasizes.
“For those who were able to reverse disadvantageous decisions through legal channels, it was a stressful and grueling battle,” the prime minister sums up. “Others who could not or did not want to fight these battles have since suffered the professional and biographical consequences of the lack of a sense of proportion and the insults that go with it.”
Kretschmann himself almost stumbled over the decree
The 74-year-old almost stumbled over the decree on his way into the teaching profession. In the letter, Kretschmann refers to his left-wing student days, which he describes as the “biggest aberration” of his life. “It still frightens me today that a person, even if he was lucky enough to have a good education like me, can develop such a ‘tunnel vision’ and drill himself into a blinded worldview in this way.”
According to the State Ministry, Kretschmann now offered those affected a conversation. However, rehabilitation and compensation are not planned because it is difficult to carry out an individual examination and because some files are no longer available, it said.
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