An important guest in faraway countries: big game hunter Franz Josef Strauss in 1981, in Pakistan.
In 1980 and 1981, West Germany tucked away happily in a vacuum. So it seemed. Everybody believed that there would be two Germanys forever. The Soviet Union? Sorry, too big to fail. Anyway: They would never let go of East Germany.
Actually West Germany was a country in the middle of the historical hurricane raging all around, and what seemed like a vacuum was in fact the eye of the storm.
It happened right then, right there. The clash. The change. The end of the postwar world and the beginning of the age we live in today.
In August 1980, after months of heavy strikes in Gdansk, Poland, the electrician Lech Wałęsa founded Solidarity, the Soviet bloc's first independent trade union. Soon after Wałęsa was arrested and martial law was imposed. But the striking workers had a compatriot in the Vatican: Pope John Paul II – Karol Wojtyla from Wadowice. And the fact that Mehmet Ali Ağca fired several shots at him on May 13, 1981, the birthday of the Marian apparition of Fatima, and that he survived made the Pope realize that the Virgin Mary had a mission for him. The mission to bring down the Soviet Empire.
The West-German battles of these times were fought in Wackersdorf, Brokdorf and Gorleben. Against nuclear power, the NATO Double-Track Decision, and the showdown of the then-superpowers. On October 10, 1981, 300,000 people came together in Bonn, the small, provincial capital, for the first mass event of the new peace movement, the Friedensbewegung.
In October 1980 Franz Josef Strauss ran for chancellor, but he lost and Helmut Schmidt succeeded. For the rest of his life Strauss never again held a federal office. He was entangled in old battles. A man of the past. Der Spiegel called him a "loser" on its front page. Strauss was involved in basically every dirty deal in post-war Germany: the Onkel Aloys affair, the Fibag affair, the HS-30 scandal, the Lockheed bribery scandals, the Spiegel scandal, the Airbus affair, and the U-209 submarine blueprint deal with apartheid South Africa. His friends were Paraguay's dictator Alfredo Stroessner, Chile's Augusto Pinochet, South-Africa's president Pieter Willem Botha and finally East-Germany's old grey socialists. In Pakistan his pal General Zia had just executed Prime Minister Bhutto. But Zia's international standing rose after his 1980 declaration to fight the Soviet invaders in Afghanistan. President Carter offered him $325 million but Zia rejected this as "peanuts." After Ronald Reagan defeated Carter in 1980, the situation changed. Reagan and Congressman Charles Wilson increased the funding for Operation Cyclone. Financial support to the Afghan resistance, the Mujahideen and to Pakistan, increased substantially, finally reaching 1 billion Dollars.
President Reagan came into power because of a secret arms deal with the Mullahs in Iran over the Tehran hostages, a clandestine operation called October Surprise. No Reaganism without Khomeinism and vice versa. The powers of darkness, the neocons and the Islamists rose not only simultaneously but dependently.
In 1981, Franz Josef Strauss was already a man of the past. He was corrupt; he believed in order, he believed in nuclear power, he believed in the tranquility of dictatorships. No doubts, no discourse, no change. He didn't see what was coming. In 1980, CNN and MTV were broadcasting for the first time, GPS sent the first signals, and IBM came out with the first personal computer. The Green Party was founded in Karlsruhe and the first cases of AIDS were detected. And Strauss went hunting.
A few weeks before the 1980 elections a bomb killed 219 people at the Oktoberfest in Munich. Only hours after the bombing Strauss – then Bavaria's Prime Minister and conservative candidate for chancellorship– wrongly accused the Red Army Faction for the killings. At that time their leaders were dead and a faceless but violent generation tried to hold onto a forgotten past. Like the Bologna massacre just months earlier which killed 800 people, the Oktoberfest bombing was a right wing terrorist operation, a false flag action to blame the left, with the intention to support Strauss in the election.
To cut a very long story very short: later Walesa became Poland's president, the Soviet Union fell, the old Generals died in Afghanistan and the younger ones were busy buying oil companies and television networks. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad one of the hostage takers in the Tehran US embassy became President of Iran, and Strauss? He died one year before the German reunification. On the last Saturday of the Oktoberfest after some beers and a knuckle of pork he left Munich around noon by helicopter. He was heading to Regensburg for a hunt with the Prince of Thurn und Taxis. Rumors say that Strauss died from multi-organ failure right when the door of the helicopter was opened. And that he was too big to fit in a scanner. His death was declared on Monday morning, when the Oktoberfest had ended anyway and when Strauss' biggest enemy Der Spiegel was at the newsstand. The Bavarian Lion had two days to be in mortal agony. Today Munich's airport bears his name. (Text by 80*81)
In their research 80*81 Georg Diez and Christopher Roth followed the path of events between 1980 and 1981– cultural, political and economic changes that are notable still today and will be in the future. With various people from different disciplines – such as philosophers, physicists, astrologers, writers, filmmakers or musicians – they looked for paradigm changes, for conspiracy, for the theory of everything. With the astonishing results they toured the world –performing in theatres, nightclubs, galleries and at funfairs. They made 11 books and finally an eight-hour opera.
Georg Diez is a writer and journalist. He was a critic for Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, Die Zeit and Süddeutsche Zeitung and writes now for Der Spiegel. He published the memoir The Death of my Mother and books on the Rolling Stones, the Beatles and Berlin. Christopher Roth is a filmmaker, writer and artist living in Berlin. His feature film Baader received a price at the Berlinale Competition in 2002. His novel 200D was republished in 2012. His installations and films have been shown in several exhibitions worldwide.