The Antideutsche and me – an open letter to the german left by David Rovics

David Rovics CENSORED

On Sunday 22. September the concert of american singer-songwriter David Rovics was cancelled at the 20th anniversary of the housing project S.U.S.I. in Freiburg. On Monday Radio Dreyeckland received a statement from S.U.S.I. explaining their political reasons for the cancellation of the gig. Both parties have been invited to Radio Dreyeckland to bring their points forward in a discussion. Unfortunately just David Rovics showed up so we confronted him with the arguments presented in the S.U.S.I. statement. After the Interview David Rovics published an Open Letter to the german left.


Download to the radio interview (64:16 min)


The Antideutsche and me - an open letter to the german left


Last night another concert of mine in Germany was cancelled due to pressure from a political tendency here known as the Antideutsch (Anti-Germans). The show went ahead, in this case, but in a different venue. In previous cases, shows have been cancelled due to Antideutsche threats to boycott venues, picket, smash windows and hurt people, depending on the case. All of these actions have been carried out by Antideutsche elements on many occasions throughout Germany over many years now. Their targets over the years have included progressive artists, groups, and venues, as well as members of the very large Palestinian community in Germany.

Since I first encountered the Antideutsche I thought that such a bizarre political tendency couldn't last, and I figured I'd just ignore it and hope it went away. That was a mistake. I'm not sure if their influence is growing, but they're certainly not going away. There may not be more than a few hundred zealous adherents to the various Antideutsche factions in Germany, but their influence in society and especially on the Left is vastly disproportionate to their small numbers, due to the historic guilt that still pervades Germany. They take advantage of this condition to force people to make uncomfortable or even impossible choices, again and again.

The Antideutsche, however well-meaning in their origins, despite the fact that some of what they do is admirable (such as opposing the far right in various ways), is a misguided subculture that has relied on incredibly convoluted logic to evolve into a fundamentally racist phenomenon. Their racism should be rejected. A failure to reject the logic of the Antideutsche is a failure to reject racism.

I'll explain. (I know I have titled this an “Open Letter to the German Left,” but I'll take the time here to give some background that will be obvious to most Germans, but may be news to non-Germans.)

I'm not alone among non-Germans who have spent significant amounts of time in Germany in saying that Germany is the most thoughtful, self-reflective society I have ever experienced. It is a place where a very large proportion of the population understands their history. Some people on the Left here will be quick to disagree with me and talk about all the backward people out there and how much more progress there is to be made. However, if they spend time anywhere else in the world, I believe they will have to admit that their society is one that has, to a vastly greater degree than France, the US, Great Britain, and other countries with very dark histories of colonialism and imperialism, largely come to terms with their history. There are of course notable exceptions, but for the most part Germans today viscerally loathe authoritarianism, war, and everything else the Third Reich stood for.

Most Germans especially loathe anti-Semitism. So much so that the very topic makes people uncomfortable, and any discussion that involves criticizing a person of Jewish lineage or an organization led by a Jew is something many Germans would rather just avoid entirely. Being of Jewish lineage myself, having grown up among survivors of the Nazi holocaust, and having spent a lot of time in Germany, I understand this.

Germans were and are faced with the same contradictions as the rest of us with regards to how to come to terms with anti-Semitism, and how European Jews experienced the first half of the twentieth century, which of course most notably involved being systematically killed by goose-stepping Germans. How to atone for the sins of their fathers and grandfathers? How to make sure a fascist regime doesn't take over Germany again? How to make sure the victims of fascism don't become victims again?

For many Germans, particularly on the Left, the answer to these questions lay in a rejection of authoritarianism, welcoming refugees from dictatorships such as Pinochet's Chile, and opposing wars around the world. For many Germans, this led them uncomfortably into the position of opposing not only the Right in their own country, but the US-led wars in places like Vietnam and Iraq. Not because they supported their own country's imperial ambitions as opposed to US imperialism, but because they opposed anyone carpet-bombing anyone else. Been there, done that, never again – to anyone.

But then, the question of how to view and interact with the new state of Israel posed an even bigger challenge for German society, just as it did for others around the world, such as the Jewish diaspora. Guilt-ridden Germans and traumatized Jews alike faced the question – does “never again” mean “never again” for some people or for everyone? For most people in the world, the answer was the latter – no one should invade someone else's country, force the inhabitants into refugee camps and walled ghettos, etc. Ethnic cleansing was unacceptable anywhere, even if the people doing the ethnic cleansing had recently been victims of an even more horrible ethnic cleansing themselves.

For a significant portion of the Jewish diaspora, and for many people in Germany, however, the main concern was for the well-being of Jews. The Nazi holocaust was directly responsible for Zionism's sudden popularity among Jews. Without the Nazi holocaust, the state of Israel probably never would have come to exist, since the overwhelming majority of Jews before that period of history weren't sufficiently enticed by the idea of abandoning their homes in Europe or North America to participate in the Zionist project. And for many Germans, now that German fascism had played a significant role in forcing Israel to come into existence, the Jewish homeland needed to be supported – even if its very existence meant the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of indigenous people who had nothing to do with fascism in Europe.

On the contrary, for hundreds of years while there were pogroms, crusades and inquisitions in Europe, whose victims always included lots of Jews among many others, during the same period in the Ottoman Empire, Jews and other religious and ethnic minorities flourished. But now these Arabs would have to pay for the crimes of German Nazis, and the Zionist movement's new state – actively supported by the US, Great Britain, West Germany and other actors on the international scene – would be founded upon a fundamentally racist form of governance, a Middle Eastern apartheid system, where Palestinians were forced to flee at gunpoint while Jews got their land. After the 1967 war, when Israel annexed Gaza, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights, the Palestinians in these occupied territories would become a people forced to live under military rule, with no right to vote, ruled by military courts, military injustice, with settlers daily breaking international law to take more and more of their best land away from them.

Most governments in the world, and most people paying attention, especially on the Left, saw this for what it was, and declared the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza illegal, the settlements illegal, and demanded that the Palestinians should be able to return to the lands from which they were forcibly displaced. But among many in the Jewish diaspora, collectively traumatized as they were by German fascism and anti-Semitism elsewhere, there was confusion on this question. Were the Palestinians victims of ethnic cleansing, or terrorists who deserved their fate? Was Israel an apartheid state run by settlers from overseas, or a nation of long-lost refugees returning home and doing what they had to do to stay safe?

Many Germans (and many Jews and most other people in the world) tended to take the former view, but generally preferred to avoid the issue, feeling like, as descendants of the Nazis, they didn't really have the moral authority to take a position one way or the other. Some Germans, particularly on the Left, took the principled stance against Israeli apartheid, despite how emotionally difficult it was for most of them to do this, given their history, and their intense feelings of guilt.

Enter the Antideutsche. In the days leading up to German reunification, many people in Germany were concerned with the prospect of a powerful new German state. They had reason to be concerned. In the months following reunification, the far right was emboldened in both east and west Germany, and there were many cases of immigrants being attacked and sometimes killed by the far right. The asylum laws in Germany became much more restrictive. Out of this context, the Antideutsche tendency evolved.

As with much of the German Left, they opposed German reunification, opposed the new restrictions on asylum-seekers, and opposed the far right's violent attacks on the homes of refugees. But unlike the more reasonable elements of the German Left, this new tendency proclaimed their unconditional support for Israel. The Israeli state claimed they represented Jews around the world, and the Antideutsche declared that this must indeed be the case. They aligned themselves ideologically with the most far right elements of the Jewish diaspora, such as the Jewish Defense League, proclaiming that anyone who criticized the state of Israel was an anti-Semite and a fascist (as I have personally been told on numerous occasions by Antideutsche activists).

The Antideutsche movement started splitting almost as soon as it came into existence. Some of the more bizarre tendencies to emerge include those who supported the US-led war in Iraq, on the basis that Israel supported it, so it must be good. Other elements of the movement proclaimed that although they considered themselves to be communist, they were opposed to criticism of capitalism, on the basis that criticizing capitalism was a veiled form of anti-Semitism (since apparently everyone knows that when your average anti-capitalist says “banker” they really mean “Jewish banker”).

While it may be easy to ridicule and dismiss some of the stranger offshoots of the Antideutsche, the thing they all continue to agree on is the importance of uncritically supporting the state of Israel. There also seems to be a general agreement on the principle that any serious criticism of the state of Israel must be actively opposed and denounced as anti-Semitic and fascistic.

By pushing this line throughout Germany, throughout the German Left and elsewhere in German society, the Antideutsche are essentially demanding that Germans, and anyone else in Germany, such as Palestinian refugees or anti-Zionist Jews from New York (like me), must take sides. They must either declare their unflinching allegiance to the state of Israel, or they must admit to being anti-Semites. They must avoid being involved with events that include someone who is critical of Israel, or risk allegations of anti-Semitism, smashed windows, beatings, and so on. There is no room for debate, no room for being on the sidelines or not taking a position on this issue, they say. You are either with us or you're an anti-Semite.

That is to say, you must choose: admit to being an anti-Semite, or embrace anti-Arab racism. Support the Nazi holocaust, or support the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians and the apartheid state of Israel.

These, however, are false choices. There are other options – much more sensible ones. You can use your brain, and think for yourself, without unconditionally supporting anyone or anything. You can acknowledge reality – that the Nazi holocaust was indeed the worst thing humans have ever done to other humans, but that the fact that these horrible atrocities were committed in Europe during the first half of the twentieth century does not make it OK for the survivors of the Nazi holocaust to go and drive 700,000 Palestinians off of their land and into walled ghettos.

You can reject both of these horrors. You can oppose anti-Semitism at every turn, and also oppose ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. You can reject the Antideutsche's false dichotomy. Or you can embrace it, and embrace the idea that anything but unconditional support for Israel is anti-Semitism. But then you must come to terms with an inescapable fact: by embracing this position, you are embracing a virulent form of racism. By embracing a blatantly, fundamentally racist government – Israel – you are yourself a racist.

It's your choice. Your brain. I beseech you – use it. Don't let the Antideutsche turn you into a racist idiot who's not allowed to think for yourself because you were born German. I know you'd rather avoid the whole difficult issue, but the Antideutsche won't let you do that. Reject fascism of all kinds, whether they employ gas chambers or not. Reject imperialism, whether German, US, or British. Reject anti-Semitism, yes, but also reject Israeli apartheid. Reject the Antideutsche tendency. Embrace humanity, in all its forms, including the hundreds of thousands of displaced Palestinians who live in your country, and the Jews who don't agree with the twisted worldview embraced by US imperialism, Israel's ruling parties and the Antideutsche.


David Rovics, Freiburg 23.9.2013



- translations of this text into german welcome -

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That is to say, you must choose: admit to being an anti-Semite, or embrace anti-Arab racism. Support the Nazi holocaust, or support the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians and the apartheid state of Israel.

Maybe you should take a look in a history book.

Look up how Apartheid states worked...

Look what is an ethnical cleansing...

OK for the survivors of the Nazi holocaust to go and drive 700,000 Palestinians off of their land and into walled ghettos.

again time for the history book

I wonder what kind of history books you read.

whenever they run out of arguments they either say "go, read a book!" or they use violence. I hate those dogmatist, they are no better than other clergys.

thanks david and come back soon!

aahahaha das sind wirklich die typischen Verhaltensmuster der NeoKons, mehr kommt da meistens wirklich nicht ;)

Ein einstudierter Spruch. Erschreckend und Amüsant zugleich.

the author has no idea about antisemitism or fascism and i never heard from anyone from the antideutsche side that they would support kach- or the jdl and refusing to critizes antisemitism because it comes from non-europeans is a form of racism

Natürlich gibt es Antideutsche, die die Kach - Siedlerparteien unterstützen. Hier auf Linksunten regelmässig z.B. die hanebüschenen Statements von "Caterpillar" (sic!). Auf der der neurechten, rassistischen Seite der "Jüdischen Verteidigungsliga"/ JVL tummeln sich ebengfalls genug "Antideutsche". Eine weitere extrem rechte Seite ist die von "Pro Zion NRW".


Recherchiere einfach mal besser.

also dass "caterpillar" sich jemals auch nur ansatzweise auf die in israel verbotene kach-partei bezogen haben sollte, würde ich ja megamässig bezweifeln, da hätte ich dann doch gerne einen beleg für, auch bei prozion kannn ich keine jdl oder kach-nähe entdecken, mehr als lügen nichtr auf lager?

The antigerman movement is tightly integrated with a number of pro-zionist propaganda-organizations like Stop The Bomb or Honestly Concerned e.V. which themselfs are -of course- integrated into the local jewish communities.
Looking at these organizations & their actions it appears that they are very much in line with the political goal du Jour of the state of Israel at all times. They shift their topics as quickly as the topics change in the real life news without time being wasted. Not surprisingly neither periods of opinion-finding nor critical reflection can be witnessed. These organizations not only interface with the antigerman left but also with political parties and other political actors.
You gotta realize that the antigerman movement is a very convenient thing for the state of Israel because the movement promotes Israels political lines in a sphere that's also the homebase of a ever growing criticism of Israels handling of the palestinian question and human rights matters in general... the left, you know?
Looking at the big picture I see the antigerman movement as being just one -but an important one- of many Israel-friendly entities in our society that are in a constant motion to influence the german society towards supporting the state of Israel's goals.
These networks didn't appear out of thin air and that system provides a petri dish in which the antigerman movement flourishes thanks to something you don't have in big parts of the rest of the left movement: loyalty, unity and coordination.

 Stellungnahme von SUSI mit Zitaten des Herrn Rovics

Hier wird suggeriert, dass das eine SUSI-Stellungnahme sei. Das ist es nicht. Es ist eine Stellungnahme einiger antideutscher BewohnerInnen von SUSI, die das Projekt politisch vereinnahmen wollen – mehr nicht. Siehe auch die Konzertankünidgung.

Ich hätte gut gefunden, wenn das SUSI den ganzen Text zitiert hätte, den David Rovics auf seiner CD "The Return" ruhig und bewegend vorträgt:

This recording is dedicated in the loving memory of Jihad, Muna and Kifah El-Ali. They were killed by mercenaries under orders from Ariel Sharon in the Shatila refugee camp in Lebanon in 1982 along with 2,000 others, mostly women and children. Never again.

david rovics

i can't help it.
i don't care how far you think the analogy extends itself.
when i see you making that bus driver climb up and down
on and off the roof of his bus
for your amusement
for hours in the hot sun
i think of how we once had to dance and sing for them
while they shot our parents.
when i see you keep that woman
and her husband
at the checkpoint
while she's in labor
and you stand there
listening to her scream
watching as she gives birth
on the back seat of a taxi
i think of the walls around our own ghetto
and how we had to crawl through the sewers
looking for rats to eat
while we could hear their children playing
on the other side.
when i see you crush that house
and kill that woman
and her baby
with your armored bulldozer
because they didn't have a permit
i think of the way we were once forced to leave our homes
at the point of a gun.
and when i hear your general say
that in order to deal with the intifada
you must learn from the tactics of another general
one mr. stroop
in warsaw
i think of how they bombed our buildings
shot us as we fell from the roofs.
and i remember
how we wished we could kill their babies, too.
and i feel sick.
sick of your displaced anger
sick of your self-deception
sick of your attempts to deceive the rest of the world
sick of your accusations of anti-semitism
sick of your occupation
sick of your apartheid state
sick of zionism.
because standing here
in auschwitz, birkenau and warsaw
i see jenin, jaffa and rafah.
and i think of our ancestors
the jewish palestinians
who spoke so eloquently
in their arabic language.
but the dead cannot speak.
and now i find myself
again behind the wall of a ghetto
standing with millions of other palestinians.
and i find myself shouting
thawra! thawra! hatta al-naser!
tomorrow in jerusalem!

Die Auseinandersetzung ist ein gutes Beispiel dafür, wie eine einstige Positionierung zum Deutschen Nationalismus sich von ihrem Inhalt gelöst hat. Wenn wir gesagt haben, dass die Gleichsetzung des Gräuls der israelischen Verbrechen mit dem Gräul des Faschismus in Deutschland der relativierung Deutscher Schuld und dem wiedererstarken Deutscher Militärinteressen mündend im Juguslawien-Krieg dient: Was hat das mit dem Gedicht eines antimilitaristischen US-Linken zu tun, der dazu noch jüdische Wurzeln hat? Ist nicht grade unser Ausgangspunkt gewesen, dass ein Argument von Deutschen vorgetragen eine ganz andere Funktion/ ein anderen Inhalt haben kann, als wenn es Linke überall auf der Welt im Munde führen?

I guess even a lefti fro germany is capable of understanding that the wall, the apartheida and the occupation is a crime against humanity.

@ rovics all the best. it is a shame. and it is inhuman. but truth will win!

The problem in Germany is that there are so many antisemites. Whenever you say something against Israeli politics, the next thing you hear is some old (or young) Nazi coming forward saying "yes you're right, that's what I always said, this is the way these jews are". So out of everything, however reasonable it might be, they make something of their ugly propaganda.


In fact "Antideutsch" is the most stupid way to react to this situation, because basically they assume what the nazi complains of is true, they just say that it's not bad but good. For example: Nazi says "Jews are greedy capitalists" - Antideutsch defends greedy capitalists. Means in the end, Antideutsch CONFIRMS antisemitic stereotype Jew=Capitalist, and classification of people as "Jews", supporting constructions like "race" or "nation", instead of attacking all of these ideas. So I prefer calling them "nationally thinking ultragermans".


Still ignoring the problem is also bad, if you want to say something about Palestine, you have to think about how to turn off nazis who want to become your fans. You could insult them but that's a hard job as they do not have very much self-respect and might enjoy a little dissing as long as you say something which they can use "against jews".

antideutsche don't defend "greedy capitalists". they denounce this "criticism" of capitalism as the personalized bullshit it is. personalizing capitalism was the only "criticism" the nazis had to offer about it.


classification of people as "Jews", supporting constructions like "race" or "nation", instead of attacking all of these ideas.

So let's just say there is no antisemitism, no racism and no sexism in this world. Because being treated as jewish, being put into a race or into a sex is not valid. Who fights against fascism, racism and patriarchy on the side of the oppressed is an idiot who just confirms all prejudice of the opressors.

but most antideutsch don't make that brain effort, see 1000 stupid indy comments...

...for this high-quality comment with uber-brain-effort!

All over Europe a lot of people in the radical left have strong negative feelings about the so-called “Antideutsch movement” within the radical left in Germany and Austria, a faction that is often known for its solidarity with Israel, its hatred for Germany, its opposition against traditional antiimperialism and its fierce stance against everything they deem antisemitic. Some calling them zionist racists while others regard them as some sort of neoconservatives in disguise. But those who demonize the movement often don’t really know exactly why it started in the first place and what its key points of criticism are. Others seem to be sure that, since it is called Antideutsch, it was only relevant in a German context and they didn’t need to consider or to discuss its criticism.

With this short pamphlet We want to add fuel to these dialectics. We want people in the radical left outside Germany and Austria to discuss what Antideutsch critique is about and whether or not some of its criticism might be relevant in their own contexts instead of simply disqualifying the whole theoretical current as zionist, racist or fascist and hence not relevant for radical left discourse. It is not our aim to convince each and everyone that everything that came out of the context of Antideutsch critique is good and right. In fact We disagree with a fair amount of it myself. But it is our idea of progressive thinking and of radical left politics that you listen to what others have to say and to respond with arguments instead of polemic identity politics. Of course, at least at some points in history exactly these mistakes have also been made by Antideutsch people and We won’t deny that.


Read on:


Found on:

this is def. worth reading

voll auf linie mit springerpresse und der deutschen Regierung. Voll deutsch, weil die einzigen auf der welt die die weisheit mit löffeln gefressen haben.


gegen deutschland bin ich auch, aber die spinner die das etikett "anti"deutsch gebucht haben meinen ja ich wäre ein antisemit wenn ich den deutschen imperialismus am horn von afrika oder in afghanistan kritisiere. solche spinner.


aber kinder: die hochphase der "anti"deutschen ist doch schon vorbei: dass war so 2005 als ein justus werthmüller in kreuzber vor 1000 leuten (die sich fälschlicherweise als links begriffen haben) gegen die multikulturelle gesellschaft gewettert haben. elsässer, bahamas, kriegstreibende jungle world oder ein spammer bei linksunter der unter einem kritischen ebricht zur afd schrieb: "die afd ist proisraelisch. jegliche kritik an der afd ist strukturell antisemitisch. lang lebe israel" alle diese spinner haben sich doch schon selbst entlarvt. man kann lachen oder weinen oder beides. aber die "anti"deutschen sind doch selbst nur kleine dumme deutsche. spätestens zum g8 gipfel haben die sich doch nur noch lächerlich gemacht.


@ rovic it is embarissing, but just ignore them. they are small "mitläufer_innen" and the very most of the will have a bourgeois life soon, thats my experience of 15 years politics within the german left! I havent seen any antideutsche who has done his kind of politics for more than a few years...


hoch die internationale solidarität!

and still in it, and because someone posted something stupid "die antideutschen" are supporting the adf???? lol

maybe u bring an example/a quote where someone declares that critique against the german imperialism is "antisemitic"? ;) i guess that will be very difficult, dude

Now as a Fallinmbostel veteran I have nearly 30 years, am I now more right than you?

Okay, then I tell youb that Antideutsche are counterrevolutionary trolls, who are willingly or unwillingly play the game of an opressive occupation regime.

Well, the first critique was, that antdeutsche don't do their politics longer than a few years.

So it makes perfect sense for someone to mention, that they are doing this kind of politics since 23 years.

Doesn't mean anyone is more right than the other.

But it does mean taht "voll uff linie" ist a selfrighteous Idiot.

ich fand die ausladung des jüdischen künstlers david rovics aufgrund einiger seiner songzeilen ziemlich daneben,(songs ,die er in deutschland eh nicht spielen wollte ),es wurde sich nicht getraut sich auseinanderzusetzen,und die entscheidung wurde in zeitdruck getroffen .(susifest 20.9.13)

so war es ziemlich destruktiv und hat niemanden irgendwie voran gebracht.

ähnlich destruktiv finde ich hier diese vielen beschimpfungen und abwertungen auf dieser kommentarliste.

ich hoffe mal auf eine progressive auseinandersetzung und dass die linken mal aufhören sich gegenseitig in boxen zu stecken!

"so war es ziemlich destruktiv und hat niemanden irgendwie voran gebracht"  - naklar hat´s uns vorangebracht. kannste dich an auch nur eine ähnlich kontrovers diskutierte (politische) entscheidung in den letzten jahren erinnern, an der SUSI derart beteiligt war? da geht mal was an politischer stellungnahme und bewußtsein - sehr zu begrüßen.

dass sich niemand getraut hätte, sich auseinanderzusetzen kann ich aber hier nicht so stehen lassen. für uns lag einerseits kein sinn darin,  einem derart von seiner meinung überzeugten menschen (schaut euch seine publikationen zum thema an) nochwas neues entgegenzubringen. und andererseits war es uns wichtig, ihm auf SUSI kein Forum zu bieten - daher keine öffentlichen podien, infozettel oder ansagen während eines konzertes.

du meinst, nur weil er die jenen welchen songs eh nicht spielen wollte, ist alles gut? und was soll die anspielung auf seine herkunft aussagen?

fragen über fragen...

Ihr wart einfach zu feige, euch einer Diskussion zu stellen, weil ihr argumentativ unterlegen wärt. Stattdessen habt ihr gedroht und das Konzert zensiert, wie erbärmlich.

okay , mich hätte eine persönliche auseinandersetzung an dem konzertabend voran gebracht ,eine wo mit dem künstler selber geredet wird.

vielleicht ist das thema auch zu sehr belastet und kein konstruktiver umgang möglich.

ich finde es für davids kritik an israels politik schon entscheidend, dass er selber jüdisch ist. Meiner meinung nach kommt es schon auf den kontext an, aus dem jemand schreibt.

was wär denn so schlimm an einer persönlichen diskussion gewesen?

Es war ja gar keine susi konsens-entscheidung und ich sehe wüste schubladenbeschimpfungen nicht als voranbringend an.

für mich war es eine politisch falsche entscheidung das konzert abzusagen und "kein Forum zu bieten".

ich meine nicht, dass alles gut ist, weil er seine israelkritischen lieder nicht in brd spielen wollte, sondern , dass er auch weiss, dass das in brd ein besonders heikles terrain ist. (wie eine /R  ja an den blödbeschimpfungen merkt).

noch fragen?

naja.Das die Antideutschen völlig verwirrte Spinner und Werkzeug zur Spaltung der Szene sind,sollten alle Genossen und Genossinnen wohl schon gemerkt haben.Ich kenne keinen der diese Figuren wirklich ernst nimmt.Für dies,gegen das,Schwachsinn im Endstadium.