Rudi Dutschke
Alfred Willi Rudi Dutschke (March 7, 1940 – December 24, 1979) was the most prominent spokesperson of the German student movement
German student movement
The German student movement was a protest movement that took place during the late 1960s in West Germany. It was largely a reaction against the perceived authoritarianism and hypocrisy of the German government and other Western governments, and the poor living conditions of students...

 of the 1960s. He advocated 'a long march through the institutions' of power to create radical change from within government and society by becoming an integral part of the machinery. This was an idea he took up from his interpretation of Antonio Gramsci
Antonio Gramsci
Antonio Gramsci was an Italian writer, politician, political philosopher, and linguist. He was a founding member and onetime leader of the Communist Party of Italy and was imprisoned by Benito Mussolini's Fascist regime...

 and the Frankfurt school
Frankfurt School
The Frankfurt School refers to a school of neo-Marxist interdisciplinary social theory, particularly associated with the Institute for Social Research at the University of Frankfurt am Main...

 of cultural Marxism
Cultural Marxism
Cultural Marxism is a term referring to a group of Marxists who have sought to apply critical theory to matters of family composition, gender, race, and cultural identity within Western society.-Explanation of the "Cultural Marxism" theory:...

. In the 1970s he followed through on this idea by joining the nascent Green movement.

In 1968, he survived an assassination
To carry out an assassination is "to murder by a sudden and/or secret attack, often for political reasons." Alternatively, assassination may be defined as "the act of deliberately killing someone, especially a public figure, usually for hire or for political reasons."An assassination may be...

 attempt committed by Josef Bachmann
Josef Bachmann
Josef Erwin Bachmann became widely known in Germany for his assassination attempt on the leader of the German student movement, Rudi Dutschke, firing three bullets at him, on April 11, 1968. He was convicted of the attack and sentenced to a seven-year prison sentence...

, living for another 12 years until related health problems caused his death. Radical students blamed an anti-student campaign in the papers of the Axel Springer
Axel Springer
Axel Springer , was a German journalist and the founder and owner of the Axel Springer AG publishing company.-Early life:...

 publishing empire for the assassination attempt. This led to attempts to blockade the distribution of Springer newspapers all over Germany, which in turn led to major street battles in many German cities.

Early life

Dutschke was born in Schönefeld
-Places in Germany:*Schönefeld, a municipality of Brandenburg near Berlin*Leipzig-Schönefeld, a quarter of Leipzig, Saxony*Schönefeld , a village in the town Beelitz, Brandenburg...

, (Dahme-Spreewald
Dahme-Spreewald is a district in Brandenburg, Germany. It is bounded by the districts of Oder-Spree, Spree-Neiße, Oberspreewald-Lausitz, Elbe-Elster and Teltow-Fläming, and by the city of Berlin.- History :...

, Brandenburg
Brandenburg is one of the sixteen federal-states of Germany. It lies in the east of the country and is one of the new federal states that were re-created in 1990 upon the reunification of the former West Germany and East Germany. The capital is Potsdam...

), in the German Reich. He attended school in and graduated from the Gymnasium
Gymnasium (school)
A gymnasium is a type of school providing secondary education in some parts of Europe, comparable to English grammar schools or sixth form colleges and U.S. college preparatory high schools. The word γυμνάσιον was used in Ancient Greece, meaning a locality for both physical and intellectual...

there, but because he refused to join the army of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) and convinced many of his fellow students to refuse as well, he was prevented from attending university in the GDR. He fled to West Berlin
West Berlin
West Berlin was a political exclave that existed between 1949 and 1990. It comprised the western regions of Berlin, which were bordered by East Berlin and parts of East Germany. West Berlin consisted of the American, British, and French occupation sectors, which had been established in 1945...

 in August 1961, just one day before the Berlin Wall
Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall was a barrier constructed by the German Democratic Republic starting on 13 August 1961, that completely cut off West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin...

 was built. He studied sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

 at the Free University of Berlin
Free University of Berlin
Freie Universität Berlin is one of the leading and most prestigious research universities in Germany and continental Europe. It distinguishes itself through its modern and international character. It is the largest of the four universities in Berlin. Research at the university is focused on the...

 under Richard Löwenthal
Richard Löwenthal
Richard Löwenthal was a Jewish German journalist and professor who wrote mostly on the problems of democracy, communism, and world politics.- Life :...

 and Klaus Meschkat where he became acquainted with alternative views of Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...


Dutschke joined the German SDS Sozialistischer Deutscher Studentenbund
Sozialistischer Deutscher Studentenbund
Der Sozialistische Deutsche Studentenbund was founded 1946 in Hamburg, Germany, as the college organisation of the SPD...

(which was not the same as the SDS
Students for a Democratic Society (1960 organization)
Students for a Democratic Society was a student activist movement in the United States that was one of the main iconic representations of the country's New Left. The organization developed and expanded rapidly in the mid-1960s before dissolving at its last convention in 1969...

 in the USA, but quite similar in goals) in 1965 and from that time on the SDS became the center of the student movement, growing very rapidly and organizing demonstrations against the war in Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...


He married the American Gretchen Klotz (de) in 1966. They had three children. Dutschke's third child, 1980-born Rudi-Marek Dutschke (often known as just Marek Dutschke) was born after his father's death. He is a politician of the German Green Party
Alliance '90/The Greens
Alliance '90/The Greens is a green political party in Germany, formed from the merger of the German Green Party and Alliance 90 in 1993. Its leaders are Claudia Roth and Cem Özdemir...

 as well as Dean's Office staffer of the Hertie School of Governance
Hertie School of Governance
The Hertie School of Governance is a private university in Berlin, in the historic Quartier 110 of Friedrichstraße. The school is regarded as one of the leading policy institutes in Europe...

 today. His older siblings are Hosea-Che Dutschke (named after the Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

 minor prophet
Minor prophet
Minor prophets is a book of the Hebrew Bible, so named because it contains twelve shorter prophetic works. In Christian Bibles the twelve are presented as individual books...

Hosea was the son of Beeri and a prophet in Israel in the 8th century BC. He is one of the Twelve Prophets of the Jewish Hebrew Bible, also known as the Minor Prophets of the Christian Old Testament. Hosea is often seen as a "prophet of doom", but underneath his message of destruction is a promise...

 and Che Guevara
Che Guevara
Ernesto "Che" Guevara , commonly known as el Che or simply Che, was an Argentine Marxist revolutionary, physician, author, intellectual, guerrilla leader, diplomat and military theorist...

) and their sister Polly-Nicole, both born in 1968.

Political views

Influenced by critical theory, Rosa Luxemburg
Rosa Luxemburg
Rosa Luxemburg was a Marxist theorist, philosopher, economist and activist of Polish Jewish descent who became a naturalized German citizen...

 and critical Marxists, Dutschke developed a theory and code of practice of social change via the practice of developing democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

 in the process of revolutionizing society.

Dutschke also advocated that the transformation of Western societies should go hand in hand with Third World
Third World
The term Third World arose during the Cold War to define countries that remained non-aligned with either capitalism and NATO , or communism and the Soviet Union...

 liberation movements and with democratization in communist countries of Central
Central Europe
Central Europe or alternatively Middle Europe is a region of the European continent lying between the variously defined areas of Eastern and Western Europe...

 and Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

. His socialism
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

 had strongly Christian
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 roots; He called Jesus Christ the "greatest revolutionary", and in Easter
Easter is the central feast in the Christian liturgical year. According to the Canonical gospels, Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. His resurrection is celebrated on Easter Day or Easter Sunday...

 1963, he wrote that "Jesus is risen. The decisive revolution in world history has happened - a revolution of all-conquering love. If people would fully receive this revealed love into their own existence, into the reality of the 'now', then the logic of insanity could no longer continue."

Benno Ohnesorg
Benno Ohnesorg
Benno Ohnesorg was a German university student killed by a policeman during a demonstration in West Berlin.- Death :On June 2, 1967, Ohnesorg participated in a protest held near the Deutsche Oper, aimed against the state visit of the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who was attending a...

's death in 1967 at the hands of German police pushed some in the student movement toward increasingly extremist
Extremism is any ideology or political act far outside the perceived political center of a society; or otherwise claimed to violate common moral standards...

 violence and the formation of the Red Army Faction
Red Army Faction
The radicalized were, like many in the New Left, influenced by:* Sociological developments, pressure within the educational system in and outside Europe and the U.S...

. The violence against Dutschke further radicalised parts of the student movement into committing several bombings and murders. Dutschke rejected this direction and feared that it would harm or cause the dissolution of the student movement. Instead he advocated a 'long march through the institutions' of power to create radical change from within government and society by becoming an integral part of the machinery.

Shooting and later life

On April 11, 1968, Dutschke was shot in the head by Josef Bachmann
Josef Bachmann
Josef Erwin Bachmann became widely known in Germany for his assassination attempt on the leader of the German student movement, Rudi Dutschke, firing three bullets at him, on April 11, 1968. He was convicted of the attack and sentenced to a seven-year prison sentence...

. After the attempted assassination, Dutschke and his family went to the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 in the hope that he could recuperate there. He was accepted at Cambridge University
University of Cambridge
The University of Cambridge is a public research university located in Cambridge, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest university in both the United Kingdom and the English-speaking world , and the seventh-oldest globally...

 to finish his degree in 1969, but in 1971 the Tory
Toryism is a traditionalist and conservative political philosophy which grew out of the Cavalier faction in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. It is a prominent ideology in the politics of the United Kingdom, but also features in parts of The Commonwealth, particularly in Canada...

 government under Edward Heath
Edward Heath
Sir Edward Richard George "Ted" Heath, KG, MBE, PC was a British Conservative politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and as Leader of the Conservative Party ....

 expelled him and his family as an "undesirable alien" who had engaged in "subversive activity", causing a political storm in London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

. They then moved to Århus
Aarhus or Århus is the second-largest city in Denmark. The principal port of Denmark, Aarhus is on the east side of the peninsula of Jutland in the geographical center of Denmark...

, Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

, after professor Johannes Sløk
Johannes Sløk
Johannes Sløk was a Danish philosopher, Professor at the University of Aarhus and founder of "Idéhistorie" , an interdisciplinary discipline mainly about writings pertaining to the ideas of Western culture from Antiquity until today...

 had offered him a job at the University of Aarhus
University of Aarhus
Aarhus University , located in the city of Aarhus, Denmark, is Denmark's second oldest and second largest university...

 which made it possible for Dutschke to gain a Danish residence permit.

Dutschke reentered the German political scene after protests against the building of nuclear power
Nuclear power
Nuclear power is the use of sustained nuclear fission to generate heat and electricity. Nuclear power plants provide about 6% of the world's energy and 13–14% of the world's electricity, with the U.S., France, and Japan together accounting for about 50% of nuclear generated electricity...

 plants activated a new movement in the mid-1970s. He also began working with dissidents opposing the Communist
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

 governments in East Germany, Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

, Yugoslavia
Yugoslavia refers to three political entities that existed successively on the western part of the Balkans during most of the 20th century....

, Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

, and Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1992...

, including Robert Havemann
Robert Havemann
Robert Havemann was a chemist, and an East German dissident.He studied chemistry in Berlin and Munich from 1929 to 1933, and then later received a doctorate in physical chemistry from the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute....

, Wolf Biermann
Wolf Biermann
Karl Wolf Biermann is a German singer-songwriter and former East German dissident.-Early life:Biermann's father, who worked on the Hamburg docks, was a German Jew and a member of the German Resistance....

, Mihailo Petkovic, Milan Horáček
Milan Horácek
Milan Horáček , is a Czech-born German politician, a founding member of the German Green Party, a former member of the Bundestag and a former Member of the European Parliament .From 1965 to 1967 his political activism got him into trouble with the Czechoslovak communist regime, and he was arrested...

, Adam Michnik
Adam Michnik
Adam Michnik is the editor-in-chief of Gazeta Wyborcza, where he sometimes writes under the pen-names of Andrzej Zagozda or Andrzej Jagodziński. In 1966–1989 he was one of the leading organizers of the illegal, democratic opposition in Poland...

, Ota Šik
Ota Šik
Ota Šik was a Czech economist and politician. He was the man behind the New Economic Model and was one of the key figures in the Prague Spring.-Early years:...

 and more.

Because of brain damage
Brain damage
"Brain damage" or "brain injury" is the destruction or degeneration of brain cells. Brain injuries occur due to a wide range of internal and external factors...

 sustained in the assassination
To carry out an assassination is "to murder by a sudden and/or secret attack, often for political reasons." Alternatively, assassination may be defined as "the act of deliberately killing someone, especially a public figure, usually for hire or for political reasons."An assassination may be...

 attempt, Rudi Dutschke continued to suffer health problems. He died on 24 December 1979 in Århus
Aarhus or Århus is the second-largest city in Denmark. The principal port of Denmark, Aarhus is on the east side of the peninsula of Jutland in the geographical center of Denmark...

, Denmark. He had an epileptic seizure while in the bathtub and drowned.


  • Mein langer Marsch: Reden, Schriften und Tagebücher aus zwanzig Jahren. Rowohlt, Hamburg 1980 (German)
  • Jeder hat sein Leben ganz zu leben. - Diaries of Rudi Dutschke 1963 - 1979, edited by Gretchen Dutschke. Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Köln 2003. ISBN 3-462-03224-0 (German)
  • "It Is Not Easy to Walk Upright". TELOS
    TELOS (journal)
    Telos is an academic journal published in the United States. It was founded in May 1968 to provide the New Left with a coherent theoretical perspective. It sought to expand the Husserlian diagnosis of "the crisis of European sciences" to prefigure a particular program of social reconstruction...

     52 (Summer 1982). New York: Telos Press

External links

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