Bourgeois press attacks on HOV Germany and left Social Democrats who signed a HOV petition

The activities of HOV in Germany were highlighted last Sunday in newspaper and online articles issued by the Frankfurter Allgemeine (FAZ), a major mouthpiece and "central organ" of the ruling class and a sort of equivalent of the The Times in Britain.

The activities of HOV in Germany were highlighted last Sunday in newspaper and online articles issued by the Frankfurter Allgemeine (FAZ), a major mouthpiece and "central organ" of the ruling class and a sort of equivalent of the The Times in Britain.

"Schäfer-Gümbel supported left wing extremist campaign" was the headline of an online article on last Saturday. According to this article, Thorsten Schäfer-Gümbel, a left social democrat who is leading the SPD in the present campaign up to the early election in the state of Hessen in January, 2009, "is a supporter of the left extremist 'Hands off Venezuela' campaign".

The article written by FAZ editor Volker Zastrow describes HOV’s aims as "solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution" and "breaking the economic and political dominance of imperialism in Latin America" and warns readers that Schäfer-Gümbel signed a HOV petition alongside with Left Party leader Lothar Bisky and Left Party Euro MP Sahra Wagenknecht who is known as a representative of the "Communist Platform". This seems to be a dangerous crime.

A long article on pages 2 and 3 of the Sunday print edition, Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, criticises Schäfer-Gümbel`s "support for Hugo Chávez" and describes the Venezuelan president as a "frowning clown". The article goes on to quote German HOV coordinator Hans-Gerd Öfinger saying that Venezuela in some ways was a model for Hessen. The article presents Hans-Gerd Öfinger as a trade unionist and Left Party candidate "monitoring all sorts of Marxist organisations and publications from Wiesbaden". Öfinger had known Schäfer-Gümbel from his past days in the Young Socialists, says Zastrow. Both Schäfer-Gümbel and Öfinger opposed tuition fees, rail privatisation, cuts in the welfare state and cheap labour, the article tells its readers. Furthermore, the author "exposes" that in the Marxist journal, Der Funke, Öfinger "calls for a socialist change of line in the left wing mass organisations and unions, for the abolition of capitalism and world revolution." The Frankfurter Allgemeine rebukes Schäfer-Gümbel for having "no reservations" about coming in contact with HOV, Öfinger, and the Left Party.

What has happened? What is behind this campaign?

Like many other trade unionists, youth, Social Democrats and Left Party members, Thorsten Schäfer-Gümbel, then an unknown young MP, signed the HOV appeal Open letter to US trade unionists in 2005. It speaks in his favour that he signed the appeal then. This is in line with the opposition of most SPD members against the war on Iraq and the foreign policy of the Bush administration. It was reported then that members of the US Army`s 1st Armored Division based in Wiesbaden had been involved in the detainee abuse and torture scandals at the Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq, yet right wing Christian Democrat Roland Koch, the Prime Minister of Hessen and a fan of G.W. Bush, underlined his sympathy and his friendship for Bush and the torturers.

Schäfer-Gümbel`s signature has been published since then and like many others helped to strengthen the cause. For many years nobody bothered – until last week when bourgeois journalists began to Google around the globe to find any "ammunition" to discredit anybody challenging Koch's right wing course in the forthcoming early election. It is a matter of fact that the regional SPD in Hessen is slightly to the left of the national SPD leadership and were prepared to enter into a coalition with the Greens to oust Koch with the votes of the six Left Party MPs in the state parliamant. Their attempt to kick Koch out, however, failed in November when a group of four right-wing MPs broke away from the party discipline and heavily criticised any alliance with "Communists". What is behind this "gang of four" is the vested interest of big business and the banks who are doing their utmost to discredit even tame left Social Democrats and kick the Left Party out of the regional parliament. That´s why journalists like Zastrow are so keen to portray Schäfer-Gümbel as allies of the "Communists" and to warn the electorate that Left Party activists like Öfinger want "world revolution".

FAZ editor Zastrow had propably hoped that with his (badly researched) "findings" he would trigger an avalanche and major political scandal. Yet the effect of this particular endeavour seems to be very limited. While some extreme right wing German websites echoed the initial "scandal report" about Schäfer-Gümbel´s signature, the HOV cause got some sympathy, backing and fair presentation in another major daily newspaper. An article in the Frankfurter Rundschau reminded readers of the aims of the Bolivarian Revolution, the attempted and failed coup in 2002 and mentioned that HOV had been founded by Alan Woods "to provide truthful information" about Venezuela. All this media coverage has highlighted HOV in Germany and brought about a sharp increase in visits to the HOV website. Well done, Volker Zastrow!

Apart from the immediate aim to keep Koch in Power in Hessen, the ruling class media would like to discredit anybody who challenges their system. Venezuela nationalised the Banco de Venezuela in July, 2008. Under the impact of the financial and economic crisis, the Left Party in Hessen is now calling for the nationalisation of the banks. "More Germans believe the banks should be nationalised than Deutsche Bahn should be privatised" - this is what German railway manager Alexander Hedderich, a wirepuller of the attempted and postponed IPO, admits according to the British Guardian (Nov 25, 2008). This is a accurate desription of the change of mood in German society.

The attacks from organs like the FAZ will not undermine our commitment but rather strengthen our determination to continue the solidarity work with Hands of Venezuela!

Source: Hände weg von Venezuela