Almost no-one but losers
Who shot the Treuhand CEO? And who directed the finger on the trigger? André Georgi presents a dark and gripping fiction from the era of German reunification.
By Marit Borcherding
Georgi, successful scriptwriter for Tatort (i.e. crime-scene) a popular German TV mystery series, and other films with crime plots, is not a man for leisurely lead-ups. Breathlessly jumping back and forth between scenes, on the first pages of his thriller Die letzte Terroristin (i.e. the last terrorist), he depicts the cold-blooded murder of a high-ranking German banker – with unmistakable parallels with the terrorist attack on Deutsche Bank head Alfred Herrhausen in 1989.
The despair of Georgis investigator Andreas Kawert also reflects the societal climate: "The red star and assault rifle are emblazoned at the top of the letter. Below it, the Kommando Holger Meins terror cell claims responsibility for the assassination. Kawert [...] looks back upon the disaster behind him, on the totally wrecked car, on Wegner's corpse half covered by Kawert's coat. Never in his life - never - has Kawert felt so much like a failure." He'll soon be too late once again to salvage anything.
A double-gameDifferent setting, different characters: Sandra Wellmann, studied law, a single mother of ten-year-old Markus, is interviewed. Successfully. But it soon becomes clear that she is playing a double game. She is the last terrorist, guided by fanatical fellow believers. And she becomes an assistant to the CEO of Deutsche Treuhand. His name here is Dahlmann and he is based on Detlev Karsten Rohwedder, the Treuhand president who took office in January 1991 and who was murdered in April of the same year with a precision shot through a window of his Düsseldorf home.
The terror group "Red Army Faction" claimed responsibility for the act, the actual sniper has still not been identified. A blank spot in the investigation in which André Georgi skilfully places his fictional political thriller about the third generation of the RAF, about unscrupulous capitalist practices following reunification and the limits of criminal investigation. The author follows the deadly trail left behind by a terrorist group wavering between callousness and quiet scruples in a fast-paced change of perspective, sometimes in an ironically gruff tone, sometimes with quiet empathy.
Georgi brings the Stasi and its expertly trained marksmen into the violent equation, and he has a dubious Geneva business lawyer with the best connections appear as well. The Dahlmann character turns out in the course of the novel to be someone whose intention is to prevent the worst economic upheavals in the former GDR, which displeases many. Sandra, who is attached to him, increasingly loses her certainty as to who is on the right and who is on the wrong side of history: "So here we are, we have achieved what we wanted, the bastard is dead. But the bastard may not have been a bastard at all, and what we wanted may have been wrong. Maybe even unquestionably wrong. And maybe there's nothing worse than achieving our goals."
Repercussions of violenceAlthough it is clear how everything will end since the novel is based on historical events of the post-reunification period, the story grips the reader to the end. This is not least due to the fact that Georgi repeatedly and impressively refers to the lasting repercussions of violence, which irretrievably damage the lives of all, guilty and innocent alike: "Sandra no longer sees Markus fleeing out of the courtroom, away from his mother, whom he will never see again for the rest of his life. When she is granted early release from prison, Markus will be as old as she is now. He will have changed his name, and after a failed therapy for depression [...] he will live on as a third-rate journalist in Hamburg, basically just trying to comprehend his parents' lives." The fatal impact of terrorist personnel can hardly be summed up more sadly or austerely.
Those who wish for a compact presentation of the historical facts beyond fiction after this page-turner experience will find it in the book Die Rote Armee Fraktion. Eine Geschichte terroristischer Gewalt (i.e. the Red Army Faction, a tale of terrorist violence) by contemporary historian Petra Terhoeven. André Georgi's book has also been filmed under the title Der Mordanschlag (i.e. the assassination) with Ulrich Tukur and Petra Schmidt-Schaller; the two-part film is available until May 2019 in the ZDF media library.
André Georgi: Die letzte Terroristin
Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2018.361 S.
You can find this title in our Onleihe.
Petra Terhoeven: Die Rote Armee Fraktion. Eine Geschichte terroristischer Gewalt.
München: C.H. Beck, 2017. 128 S.
You can find this title in our Onleihe.