Germany’s left-wing Green Party is facing an internal crisis that could have political consequences for the pro-environmental group.
According to a report in Germany’s Spiegel Online, a number of Green Party members and associates in the 1980s advocated for the legalization of pedophilia, that is, sex between adults and minors.
Now, three decades later, party officials are conducting an internal review of documents which may shed light on this unseemly chapter of its history.
Spiegel noted that in the 1980s, the Greens had a national working group on "Gays, Pederasts and Transsexuals" (known by its abbreviation, BAG SchwuP), which printed newsletters extolling the virtues of sex between adults and children. The party apparently gave financial backing to this group.
Indeed, Spiegel reports that the influence of pedophiles in the party was much greater than previously thought, even noting that for a time in the mid-1980s, the Greens served as a kind of “parliamentary arm of the pedophile movement.”
Pedophiles were part of the Greens from its very founding in 1980, along with feminists, pacifists, homosexuals and opponents of nuclear energy.
"In terms of national politics, the Greens were the only hope for pedophiles," said Kurt Hartmann, a member of BAG SchwuP in the 1980s, according to Spiegel.
"They [Greens] were the only party that put their necks on the line for sexual minorities in the long term."
Hartmann today promotes pedophilia literature.
During the 1980s, members of BAG SchwuP (who were known as the "Schwuppies") openly discussed their sexual attraction to children. The official letterhead of the chairman of the Schwuppies, Dieter F. Ullmann, depicted an illustration of an adult man with his arm around a young boy's shoulders.
By 1984, BAG SchwuP became part of the Greens’ parliamentary group's "Law and Society" task force, which granted them a position of some privilege. Their initial principal goal was to eradicate Sections 174 and 176 of the German Criminal Code, which essentially criminalized pedophilia.
(BAG SchwuP was somewhat similar to a British organization called Pedophile Information Exchange, which was founded in the mid-1970s and disbanded about a decade later.)
An ad by the Greens from the early 1980s that was published in a gay magazine read: “Sections 174 and 176 should be amended to read that only the application or threat of violence, or the abuse of a dependent relationship in connection with sexual acts, should be criminalized!"
By March 1985, the Greens even passed a position paper which sought to allow "nonviolent sexuality" between adults and children. Although public outrage led to the dismissal of the resolution, pedophiles within the party viewed the episode as a success since it at least got their arguments out front and center.
A newsletter published by BAG SchwuP at the time stated: "The subject [of sex between adults and children] went from being taboo to part of the political consciousness. The fact that, for the first time, the protagonists are becoming the targets of HATE and disgust, scorn and derision, all of this is good and not bad. These emotions always arise at the beginning of a truly deep debate."
But at the center of this storm is one of the most famous and prominent Greens of them all -- European parliamentarian Daniel Cohn-Bendit, who apparently wrote about his sexual experiences with children in a Frankfurt kindergarten in his 1976 autobiography "Der Grosse Basar" ("The Great Bazaar").
"You know, a child's sexuality is a fantastic thing,” Cohn-Bendit wrote in that book.
“You have to be honest and sincere. With the very young kids, it isn't the same as it is with the 4-to-6-year-olds. When a little 5-year-old girl starts undressing, it's great, because it's a game. It's an incredibly erotic game."
He also wrote: "My constant flirtations with the children took on erotic characteristics. It happened to me several times that a few children undid my flies and started to stroke me."
Cohn-Bendit, a leading figure in the May 1968 student riots in Paris, has since stated that such passages were only fantasy, although he admitted it was a “big mistake” to write such things.
By 1987, seven years after the Party’s founding, the pedophiles lost their influence and BAG ScwhuP was dissolved.
Spiegel reported that the demise of the pedophiles was driven largely by homosexuals in the party who did not want to have anything to do with pedophiles and by women who were appalled that the party had such components.
Now, in 2013, the Greens are clearly embarrassed by this episode from their past and are trying to resolve the issue, while maintaining that pedophilia is something they do not condone.
"Protecting children from sexual abuse was and remains a central concern," said Green Party co-chairman Cem Özdemir.
"It is unacceptable that some are now trying to reinterpret the positions of individual groups in the past as a supposedly lax position of the Greens toward the sexual abuse of children."
Claudia Roth, another co-chair of the party, denies that the Greens ever supported or campaigned for pedophiles.
"At no point did a committee within the Green Party's national organization adopt a resolution that would have advocated the decriminalization of the sexual abuse of children," she said.
But the party's chief whip, Jürgen Trittin, admitted that the Greens were wrong to ever cater in any way to pedophiles, according to The Guardian.
The party’s internal report is expected to be finished by the end of the year.
Palash has worked as a business journalist for 21 years in New York.