Why are people so unforgiving

"It is definitely not that we are unforgiving"

Doris Simon: Michael Buback lost his father on Maundy Thursday almost 30 years ago. Two men shot at Siegfried Buback's service Mercedes from a motorcycle and the Federal Prosecutor General, his driver Wolfgang Göbel and Georg Wurster, the chief of the Federal Prosecutor's Office, died in the hail of bullets. The RAF confessed to the triple murder. The Federal Prosecutor General, as the most important terrorist fighter, was considered by the RAF to be the right target. Much later, Brigitte Mohnhaupt and Christian Klar, along with others, were convicted of the murder of Siegfried Buback and his companions. - Michael Buback, the son, is now on the phone. Good Morning!

Buback: Good Morning!

Simon: Mr. Buback, what does that do to you? What moves you when you hear someone like Peter-Jürgen Boock?

Buback: I overheard the conversation. I may not have fully understood everything. It moves me, of course, because the conflict or contact with terrorism has had a huge impact on our lives. So now mine is not as much as my mother's, who has lived alone for 30 years now. I don't want to say too much about that for the simple reason that I suspect that Mr. Boock is no longer on the line, so he has no chance of commenting on what I said. If I then comment on it, something is in the air.

But I would perhaps say two points after all. Your question about when this process of his argument began with him, after his release, that is, his argument, was interesting. That seems to me to play a very important role in the current discussion about the grace. What astonishes me is that you actually don't know what their attitude towards the perpetrators, whose release is now at issue, is. I, my relatives, should generally not interfere too much in such a decision for several reasons. Again, I can only say that for myself. First of all, the perpetrators are so strange to me. People who, in a fanaticism that is very blind, in an arrogance and cruelty, simply define people, an employer president, a bank leader or, as you have just said, a leading representative or the first criminal prosecutor as enemies, who part of one of them hated State, and which are simply eliminated. This is so very strange to me and it also protected us a bit because there was actually no personal component in it. It's not my father in that sense, but a federal prosecutor who was killed.

The personal point begins for me when you evaluate how long this punishment should last. Mr. Boock has now expressed himself very much about the importance of getting back into freedom, rehabilitation. That is of course important and I think the state is not unforgiving. You can see that from it: it is now about the examination with Ms. Mohnhaupt after a minimum period of detention. The state is not cynical and says you are sentenced to five life sentences, I am issuing life sentences once. It is about a minimum period of detention and it is almost as if this minimum period of detention almost means access to freedom again, and now, especially in the case of Mr Klar, there are additional arguments about serving the minimum period of detention who advocate a show of grace that he will be set free even sooner. It matters to me if someone has strayed so far from our standards by committing such acts, to what extent he has come back, to what extent he regrets this act and what prognosis is to be made there. I think that is what those who have to decide these questions have to do. Not the relatives.

I only speak for myself now. That may be different for other of the relatives. For me, for example, it's very, very important: how did the crime go in the first place. Imagine someone saying you forgive me. Then I will ask, what did you do, what did you do to me and what is your contribution and you are sorry about it. What is difficult for me now is that I still don't know who actually shot my father. It does play a role for relatives. With many accidents, you want to know how it actually happened. I'm a little amazed that you think about grace and things like that now. You have to know beforehand what really happened and you are sorry. That would be the prerequisite for me.

It is certainly not that we are unforgiving. I can guarantee you, I have never said in the past few years that it is good that this and that or that and that is still in prison. I don't even know. I found out from an editor of the "Süddeutsche Zeitung" last week that the topic was even pending. I am not following it at all, because it is not primarily our business either.

Simon: Mr Buback, in this context: there have been talks between some of the former RAF terrorists and the relatives of the victims over the years. Has there been anything like that with you? Did your family have or were looking for such contacts?

Buback: I met Gudrun Ensslin's sister once during a television discussion. The problem with all of this is - I tried to suggest this earlier - that it is not the case here that anything has been done to us personally. I think the terrorists who killed these leading representatives, they killed them in their capacity. They didn't ask: is someone married at all, does he have children and that sort of thing. It was just a fight against a certain group. In that respect it's very impersonal.

These contacts did not exist, but what I just wanted to address with this personal person: I think you have to see each individual case. It depends on the gravity of the crime, on the prognosis for the individual accused and on the danger that poses him, and on the attitude. As I said, I cannot judge the extent to which such signs have occurred, but one must at least confess one's deed. You have to say, I did that, or maybe even, I'm sorry or I would never do that again. For me that is actually a matter of course.

I just wanted to say something about implacability. There was this terrible Mescalero obituary after my father's death and at a time when we were really very sore. You know, when you've lost your father and then someone reads someone who has a killer face, who actually belongs in the criminal album.

Simon: The famous secret joy!

Buback: That was really bad. And yet: the person who wrote that spoke to me after more than 20 years. After more than 20 years he wrote to me that I knew who it was. Somehow that clarified the matter for me. I then wrote back to him. Obviously it's hard to get over something like this, but I also expressed a respect for it.

I am now personally wondering. For me personally it is important to know these events that led to the killing of my father. I can process it in a much better way if I at least knew how it happened. From this I deduce: for those who have to decide by force of office, it should also be important. They would just have to say that someone got over an act, or as it was said earlier, when did this process begin that you think about the act. That is a prerequisite for the showing of grace and then it must be clear what deeds he has committed. Just imagine for us: we had to go through so much, but as I said, more my mother than me, because I'm very busy here. And we will accept that, however the decision is made now. Which will certainly be more difficult for us, but which we also have to accept when the free people are then on the talk shows.

Simon: Mr Buback, unfortunately we have to end the conversation at this point. I'm so sorry. The news is rushing. Thank you very much. - That was Michael Buback, the son of the former Attorney General Siegfried Buback.