On the death of Klaus Röhl

Anyone who grew up with left-wing parents and their friends knew their name with different qualifications: Röhl the ass, Röhl the pig, Röhl the traitor.

The publicist, born near Danzig in 1928, was appointed to the position of disgust in the Federal Republic of Germany and accepted it with relish. When his daughters Anja and Bettina publicly accused him of sexual assault a few years ago, it fit into a picture that he himself had largely accepted – even if he contradicted the allegations. Often such allegations are commented on with the slogan that you couldn’t even imagine that – not so with Röhl. Everyone could well imagine it, also because he was constantly working on his seedy image himself. Röhl tried his whole life to piss everyone off, an analog troll in all camps who played hide and seek on many ironic levels – even when no one was looking for him for a long time.

“Always an Eiffel Tower length above everyone else!”

When he was 15, he befriended the later poet Peter Rühmkorf. The two boys promised each other that they would occupy a very specific place in society: “Always an Eiffel Tower length above everyone else!” In a pinch it went in the other direction, downhill and underground.

As a young soldier, Röhl had to guard the Struthof concentration camp near Danzig and always gave testimony to the atrocities committed against innocent civilians. That didn’t exactly make him popular among the yesterday, displaced, and veteran circles. Nevertheless he frequented there, as also with the communists. He had received money from the Stasi Hasis for his magazine Concrete and broke with them when he got rich with it. Spirit, glamor and revolution lit up his life when Ulrike Meinhof was at his side, then things turned around.

Obituary: "open fire": Röhl built the magazine "Concrete" also with Stasi money.

“Fire free”: Röhl built up the magazine “Konkret” with money from the Stasi.

(Foto: imago stock&people)

Even decades later, he presented his future wife, the author Danae Coulmas, as the “reason for divorce” for the separation from Ulrike Meinhof. What then happened in the family is part of the history of the Federal Republic, material for bestsellers and memoirs. The book by Bettina Roehl, “This is how communism is fun!” Is particularly successful. Here her father found himself too well represented and said that it did not fit his public image. She should portray him in a more villainous way so that the book also appears credible. Almost everyone of the appropriate age has an opinion about this family.

Röhl became known as the protagonist of a red “yellow press” and in the books of Stefan Aust, less as an author. His books and articles work like a labyrinth of satire, criticism of the times and self-irony, from which one stumbles confused and with a headache. Here he is full of praise for Ulrike Meinhof, for his compatriot Günter Grass and camouflages his leftist sentiments with reactionary slogans, if it is not the other way around. He designed his work and his life as a riddle, it will still occupy us. The day before his 93rd birthday, Röhl died on November 30th.


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