National Sections of the L5I:

Germany: school students take the streets

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More than 100.000 school students in more than 40 cities and towns all over the country took the streets to protest against the neo-liberal attacks on education launched by the government and the bosses.

The largest demonstrations were in Berlin, Braunschweig and Stuttgart with from 8.000 to 10.000 apiece. In many other towns like Bremen, Kassel, Hamburg, Frankfurt-am Main and Hannover up to 5000 gathered to demonstrate.

In a number of places, university students supported the school students. In Osnabrck, Berlin and Hannover, the demos went beyond marches. A school was occupied in Osnabr¸ck. In Berlin, in an inspiring and spontaneous action, thousands stormed into the Humboldt University, interrupting a managers meeting which was discussing patent rights, and temporarily occupied the balcony. In Hannover, the demonstration overran police lines around the one kilometre deep protection zone around the regional parliament and was than savagely attacked by the police.

In Berlin too 13 school students were arrested and many more injured, when the police prevented the demonstration from completing its final rally after several provocations by them during the march.

One unfortunate incident marred the action. During occupation of the Humboldt University an exhibition that blocked the entrance hall, was inadvertently damaged as thousands tried to get in. Unfortunately it was one commemorating "Kristallnacht" (the 'night of broken glass', 8-10 November 1938), a pogrom when 92 Jewish people were murdered, synagogues burned and Jewish property robbed by the Nazis. Naturally the organisers unequivocally expressed their regret for damaging the exhibition, emphasising that it happened entirely unintentionally. However the bourgeois media (the reactionary Springer press and the liberal Der Spiegel alike) immediately branded the students as an anti-semitic mob. This is a cynical manouevre to discredit and stigmatise a rapidly growing movement  a movement build of organisations that  unlike Springer - have a proud record of anti-racist and anti-fascist activity stretching back decades.

But there have also been other cases, where authorities, right wing parties, and the bourgeois press tried to block and intimidate planned strikes in the run up to the event. Head teachers issued thunderous "warnings" as to the consequences of students missing school. Exams were actually moved to the day of the strike.

Reactionary and right wing school student representatives, like the head of the official school student representation in Frankfurt-am-Main issued press releases calling them not to participate in the strike by "a minority", organised by left wing extremist organisations who are under observation by the secret service, naming specifically REVOLUTION (the revolutionary youth organisation in solidarity with the Arbeitermacht and the League for the Fifth International), DIDF-youth (a left wing organisation of migrant youth of Turkish origin), SDAJ (the DKPs = German Communist Parties youth organisation) and Solid (Left Party's youth). The political links of all these are no secret from anyone and hardly require the attention of the German secret police to "uncover" their intentions - the legal right to protest against reactionary reforms.

All this expresses the mounting fear of the ruling class of a movement, which has clearly grown massively in size. In the last wave of school student strikes in May and June 30.000 or more participated nationally. Now it was at least 100.000; more than tripling in size. Also the number of towns where strikes took place more than doubled.

Moreover, in the last few months the activity of university students increased when some 3.000 demonstrated in Munich in October though they are as yet less militant school students. What we are witnessing is the beginning of a school student and, potentially, a university student movement. A movement such as we can see in Spain, France, Greece and, most massive and inspiring, in Italy.

Certainly, there is still some way to go, to reach the determination and militancy of the Italian movement and to win teachers and other workers in education (janitors, cleaning, kitchen etc.) and their unions to participate in a joint struggle.

But a first step has clearly been taken. It will be important to develop a national and indeed an international co-ordination of the struggles, to deepen them in their actions ie. from one-day strike to longer ones and occupations  but also to develop the political consciousness of the activists so that they fully understand the system they are fighting against.

But here too we could see a clear advance from the previous mobilisations i.e., in a number of larger towns, probably a majority of the demonstrators enthusiastically initiated or joined in openly anti-capitalist slogans. This shows there is a fertile ground not only for a movement against the attacks on education, but also for a mass anti-capitalist, indeed revolutionary movement of the youth.

To build such a movement, to give it direction and clarity is our task is our goal, is the goal of REVOLUTION in Germany, whose comrades and branches participated in the mobilisation and demonstrations in Berlin, Frankfurt/Main, Hamburg, Kassel and Stuttgart, distributing thousands of leaflets and addressing the demonstrations. REVOLUTION is moreover an international organisation and is making links with the various countries in struggle, organising a solidarity contingent on the 12 December demonstration in Italy, and supporting calls for an international conference of those in struggle.