Monday, 14 May 2007

German TV dementia

Currently in Munich, I was watching German TV yesterday night for the first time in a long, long while. They served me up a rather entertaining half-documentary, half-movie about the first German experiences of serious terrorism.

Two moments of dementia, however, were striking and amusing. A Lufthansa plane had been hijacked, and has found its rocky way to Mogadishu. German special forces - the infamously incompetent GSG9 - are flown in to liberate the hostages. When they arrive, the Somali authorities are training to storm the plane themselves.

The German commander makes fun of them: "I asked them whether they had ever stormed a plane before. I had to explain to them that it isn't so easy, that people could die. But the Somali commander looked all-excited: 'we don't have any experience of how to do this, but we've been practising since this morning', he told me. Naturally, it would have ended in a catastrophe had we left the affair to the Somalis".

Quite. Just as it did end in a catastrophe when in Munich, a couple of years before, the same GSG9 decided to refuse a request by the vastly more experienced Israeli forces to allow them to mastermind the operation. Instead, the GSG9 took things into their Germanic hands, and stormed the plane full of Israeli Olympic athletes hijacked by Palastinians. All hostages died. A few years ago, Germany was even convicted to pay some damages to relatives of the victims for its insufficient handling of the situation. So the experience the German in the documentary seemed so proud of stems primarily from that catastrophe...

Second, there was a comic moment when Helmut Schmidt, who was Germany's Chancellor at the time of the successful Mogadishu operation, was recalling how useful it was that nearly all politicians in charge at the time had been Wehrmacht officiers not that he proncounced the word "Wehrmacht", makign reference merely to their position as Unterleutnant. "The hijackers didn't know what cattle of fish they were dealing with - they had certainly made a huge miscalulation" he said, commenting on his military experience. Well, yes. But Schmidt's point didn't exactly help to diissipate the terrorists' - no doubt ridiculous - claim, oft-repeated in the movie-elements of the show, that the German government were all fascists anyway...

Not making any serious points with this, but amusing, I think, these instances of German TV dementia certainly are.

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