from Guy Debord

To the President of the tribunal[1]
28 April 1962
Mr. President:

Around 1920 and afterwards, Germany incontestibly had the highest rank in the elaboration of art and, more generally, the culture of our era. You know how this center of creation was extinguished in 1933.

And, since then, nothing has reappeared. Everyone is obliged to attest to the fact that post-war Germany has been characterized by a total cultural void and by the dullest conformism. These conclusions are evident even from the recent collection of testimonies from a group of German writers on their lives in the Federal Republic.

When there appeared around the Spur journal, for the first time [in decades], an artistic group that manifested a certain freedom of investigation, one could see an extremely worrisome symptom in the police and juridical persecutions of which this group was almost immediately the object.

The Spur group was the first German group after the war to reappear on the international plane, to make itself recognized as an equal by the cultural avant-garde of several different countries, in the real artistic experiments of today; whereas the artists and intellectuals currently honored in Germany are only retarded and timid imitators of imported, old ideas.

Thus, from the beginning of the Spur affair in November 1961, the cultural milieu outside of Germany -- particularly in Western Europe and the Scandanavian countries -- has been deeply alarmed by the conditions of their friends in Germany. No one can be ignorant of the fact that, at a moment when Europe is moving towards a thorough economic integration, the level of intellectual tolerance must be the same everywhere. Thus it is necessary that you bear in mind the fact that such a trial is, at this moment, unthinkable in Paris or Copenhagen; with the result that it is time for you to interrupt this clumsy affair with an acquittal. It has already harmed the reputation of the Federal German Republic.

We are particularly alarmed by the ridiculous pretext for the action against Spur. This pretext can only cover up the intention, expressed right away, to make the Spur group, and all those who wish to pursue the same route, succumb to the ambiant conformism.

In Paris, we have had examples of prosecutions of artists for pornography and immorality. They were in the XIXth century: Baudelaire and Flaubert were condemned for these reasons, for which, today, Prem, Kunzelmann, Sturm and Zimmer are charged in Munich. For a very long time [thereafter], one could only refer to these [French] judgments as evidence of the scandalous imbecility of the judges. It is necessary to think of them today. Before history, artistic liberty always wins its trials.

Guy Debord
Director of the journal Internationale Situationniste

[1] In the trial against the Spur journal, 4 May [1962] in Munich.

(Published in Guy Debord, Correspondance, Volume 2, 1960-1964. Footnote by Alice Debord. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! May 2005.)

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