Resurgent left-wingers invade German stock exchange

28th October 2008, Comments 0 comments

Although the world financial crisis has not yet affected the bulk of Germans, the daily gloom of the past few weeks has prompted a resurgence of interest in political protest and in leftist remedies in Germany.

Berlin -- Anti-globalization demonstrators invaded the Frankfurt Stock Exchange on Monday, chanting, waving banners and scattering leaflets inside Germany's principal financial marketplace.

"We are criticizing the dominance of financial markets," said Stephan Schilling, a member of the Attac Network coordinating circle, in Frankfurt after stock exchange guards had ushered the group outside again.

Although the world financial crisis has not yet affected the bulk of Germans, the daily gloom of the past few weeks has prompted a resurgence of interest in political protest and in leftist remedies in Germany.

Last week, a Berlin publisher said his stocks of Das Kapital, the bible of communism by its founding father Karl Marx (1818-1883), had suddenly sold out.

"We moved 89 copies in just two days, said Joern Schuetrumpf, chief executive of the Karl Dietz company, saying the book always sold best in times of trouble, especially among students. Twelve-month sales since last November had been 2,000.

In Frankfurt, police, quoting guards, said between 12 and 20 people were being shown around the stock exchange building by public relations staff when they suddenly broke away and staged the protest.

Attac said its 20 protesters climbed over a barrier from a viewing area and hung banners over the trading floor from a gallery above it. Live television pictures showed the red banners hanging over the balustrade.

One banner near the electronic display board read, "Disarm the financial markets. Put people and the environment ahead of shareholder value."

Attac is a leftist, European movement that believes an integrated world economy threatens the interests of the poor. It has spearheaded protests in the past against the policies of the G-7 (Group of Seven) nations.

Schilling said he expected the protesters to be prosecuted. Attac said in a statement it aimed to voice "anger at the failure of banks and politicians."

The financial meltdown has had limited impact on Germany, where real-estate prices have been steady and fewer people than in other nations invest in stocks. But warnings that industry and commerce face a recession soon have caused widespread alarm.

In the northern city of Hamburg, a leftist theatre director, Volker Loesch, put the protest theme on stage, employing a group of unemployed people to chant the names of the 28 richest people in the city at the end of a play.

The city's august, state-subsidized Schauspielhaus theatre is reviving Marat/Sade, a 1964 revolutionary play by the late German-born author Peter Weiss about the gap between the rich and the dispossessed poor.

News reports Monday said four of the millionaires had threatened legal proceedings before last Friday's premiere if their names were mentioned. The theatre retaliated by reading out the letters from their lawyers on stage.

The theatre said it had not done its own research into wealth but found the names in a business magazine that publishes a list of the 300 richest people in Germany.

In the Loesch version of the play, six professional actors and the unemployed act the play, in which two factions are depicted arguing revolutionary theories in a French lunatic asylum in 1808.

Jean-Baptiste Piggin/DPA/Expatica

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