Right-wing radical Professor Jörg Baberowski faces trial for bodily harm and property damage
Next Wednesday, the main hearing against right-wing radical professor Jörg Baberowski for bodily injury and property damage will take place at the Tiergarten district court in Berlin. On January 30, 2020, the professor had destroyed large amounts of student election campaign materials at Humboldt University, physically assaulted Sven Wurm, an IYSSE member of the student parliament, knocking a cellphone from his hands and threatening him saying, do you want me to punch you in the face?
After Wurm filed a criminal complaint against the professor, the prosecution issued criminal charges in June last year for bodily harm and property damage, as the facts were absolutely clear thanks to a video of the violent act. The accused then hired two lawyers, including Joachim Steinhöfel, who defended right-wing figures, and appealed the charges. The main public hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, April 27 at 9:15 a.m. at Tiergarten District Court in Room 862.
“The trial has great political significance,” Wurm told the WSWS. “It’s about whether students are allowed to objectively criticize their professors without facing massive threats and without being physically assaulted. As an academic group of the IYSSE at Humboldt University Berlin, we criticized the trivialization of Nazi crimes and the radical right-wing positions of Baberowski. It is not only our right, but our duty as students of our university,” Wurm said. “Furthermore, there was a clear encroachment on the autonomy of the constituent student body, as it involved obstructing our work for the Student Parliament (StuPa) elections.”
Baberowski has long been known to threaten and intimidate dissidents. In 2019, the two student representatives in the university senate, Bafta Sarbo and Juliane Ziegler, had filed criminal charges against Baberowski because he had publicly defamed them as “incredibly stupid” and as “radical leftist fanatics” for having objectively criticized his project “Centre for Comparative Research on Dictatorship.
Baberowski also took equally aggressive action against his colleagues. When professors at Humboldt University sent a letter to the head of Lit-Verlag against Baberowski signing the xenophobic “Declaration 2018”, he insulted them by calling them “whistleblowers” who were waging a smear campaign. He tried to compare their behavior to the Nazi boycott of Jews, saying he felt reminded of “dark times” and writing, “Don’t buy from outcasts!” Finally, he threatened them by saying: “The humiliated and the excluded will remember who put them in the pillory.
Several times before, Baberowski had publicly slandered Wurm and the IYSSE academic group to which he belongs by calling them “psychopaths”, “whistleblowers”, “fascists”, “criminals”, “crazy people” and “perpetrators of violence”. “.
With the physical attack on Wurm, Baberowski followed up those insults and threats with actions. Video evidence shows the professor tearing up numerous election posters from the IYSSE University Group of a sign for student opinions and destroying them. When he realizes that Sven Wurm is filming this act of vandalism, he becomes physical and hits him. He slaps his hand causing the cell phone to fall to the floor. He then exclaims, “Do you want me to punch you in the face?”
In this way, Baberowski tried to intimidate Wurm and the other members of the IYSSE, who have been represented in the student parliament for many years, and prevent them from carrying out their political work. It is therefore also a serious attack on the autonomy of the constituent student body, which has been condemned in the strongest terms not only by the student parliament of Humboldt University but also by many other student councils in Germany and Austria.
Of particular concern is that Baberowski teaches in the history department where Wurm is currently completing his master’s degree. Thus, the victim of the aggression could therefore meet the violent professor again during an examination on which his future progress in life depends.
Through his violent act, Baberowski tries to suppress any criticism of his radical right-wing positions. He had already failed twice in court in this regard. On June 1, 2017, the Cologne Higher Administrative Court ruled that Baberowski could legitimately be called “racist”, “right-wing extremist” and “glorifying violence” in view of his past statements, whereupon the professor withdrew his lawsuit against the Student Council of the University of Bremen.
The court based its decision on statements by Baberowksi previously cited by the Bremen Student Council. For example, regarding the arson attacks on asylum seekers’ shelters, Baberowksi had said: “I think that given the problems we have in Germany with immigration, which is going on at the moment, what we have is still rather harmless.”
Referring to the war on terror, Baberowski said it could only be won through terror. “If you are not ready to take hostages, burn villages, hang people and sow fear and terror, as terrorists do, if you are not ready to do this, you will not won’t win such a confrontation. So you should leave him alone.
In November 2017, Baberowski then attempted to sue the Sozialistische Gleichheitspartei (Socialist Equality Party, Germany; SGP), of which the IYSSE is its youth organization, for quoting a student who had accused Baberowski of “falsifying the story “. The Hamburg Regional Court also dismissed this case because it saw enough contributing factors for this designation in Baberowski’s statements about Hitler alone.
In particular, the court cited a quote from Baberowski comparing Hitler to Stalin. “Hitler was not a psychopath, he was not cruel. He did not want the extermination of the Jews to be discussed at his table. Stalin, on the other hand, added and signed on the death lists enthusiastically, he was vicious, he was a psychopath,” Baberowski told Newsweekly. The Spiegel in 2014.
Similar trivializations of the Nazis and their crimes run through Baberowski’s entire oeuvre. In a 2007 text, for example, he declares that the Red Army is responsible for the atrocities of the war of extermination of the Nazis. “Stalin and his generals imposed a new type of war on the Wehrmacht [Hitler’s army] which no longer spared the civilian population,” Baberowski wrote at the time.
This combination of minimizing Nazi crimes, agitating against refugees, and supporting brutal wars made Baberowski a central figure in the New Right. In 2015, the professor founded the “Salon Baberowski” (Die Zeit), where at least every six months, everything with standing and a name in the scene comes together.
Now, Baberowski no longer acts only as a right-wing ideologue and Nazi apologist, but directly as a far-right activist and perpetrator of violence. He wants to suppress and expel from campus anyone who criticizes his radical right-wing agenda. This is why the trial against him is of great importance.