Saturday, 7 June 2014

Argentina: Elisabeth Kaesemann (2)

See also my first post on this issue here.

I've just watched the documentary on German broadcaster Das Erste "Was geschah mit Elisabeth K?" (dir: Eric Friedler) and I must say, it was excellent. German-speakers can watch it here and I really recommend it.

Elisabeth Käsemann was a German citizen who was disappeared, tortured and murdered by the military regime in 1977.

The story presented in the documentary is of diplomats and sports officials who, firstly, had little or no interest in intervening in the disappearance of a young woman who was perceived as possibly having extremist views or of being "mixed up in something", and secondly, who conspired to cover up her eventual death until after a friendly match between Germany and Argentina so that there was no chance of it overshadowing the game.

In contrast to the British and French governments, Germany was noticeably relucant to protest at the mistreatment of one of its citizens. Not so incidentally, Germany was also the major supplier of armaments to the Argentine state.

The documentary interviews several former German national footballers about their visit to the country in 1977, a year before the start of the World Cup hosted by Argentina. Listening to them was very interesting; while it is disappointing they were not more outspoken at the time, their comments now were considered and self-critical, especially those of Paul Breitner.

Truly jawdropping, and not in a good way, were the views of Jörg Kastl, who was German ambassador to Argentina during the early part of the dictatorship and who died after filming was completed earlier this year. He openly explains directly to the camera how it was Elisabeth's own fault she was murdered. "She would have been prepared to throw bombs," he said. An odd tense, forced upon him by the inconvenient fact that she never threw any bombs, but paid with her life anyway. And most brazenly, "She was shot and buried, and not entirely without reason, because, as I said, she came to Argentina with really explosive thoughts". Yes, thoughts.

All in all, a disturbing look at how human rights and respect for life are subordinated to business and sport in the context of international diplomacy.

ARD-Doku über Argentiniens Junta: Fußball und Verbrechen (Spiegel Online)
Wie das Auswärtige Amt und der DFB in Argentinien versagten (Der Tagesspiegel)

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