One of West Germany's main opposition parties, the Christian Socialist Union, opened its annual congress on Friday (23 September) in the shadow of political terrorism connected with the kidnapping of leading industrialist Dr.
One of West Germany's main opposition parties, the Christian Socialist Union, opened its annual congress on Friday (23 September) in the shadow of political terrorism connected with the kidnapping of leading industrialist Dr. Hanns-Martin Schleyer. The party congress is a routine gathering, but this years had to be held under the barrel of machine-guns following the threat to leading politicians, businessmen and lawyers that has become the hallmark of the nation's public affairs.
SYNOPSIS: The Christian Socialist Union party leaders and supporters gathered in Munich while Herr Schleyer was still held hostage, and the political uncertainty of the climate was perhaps illustrated by the number of policemen on duty around the conference hall armed with light machine-guns.
Christian Socialist leader Dr. Franz-Josef Strauss brought with him Christian Democratic Union leader Helmut Kohl. Together, the two parties form the main opposition to the ruling Social Democratic Party of Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, and their political differences were forgotten for long enough to form a publicly united front against political terrorism. Among visiting delegates at the congress opening -- a Rhodesian party.
But while Dr. Kohl was listening to one of his own major political rivals, the mystery of the kidnapped industrialist was still unsolved. After being seized in an ambush in which his driver and three police bodyguard were killed, the whereabouts of Dr. Schleyer were still unknown. He was being held for a ransom of the release of 11 jailed terrorists, within months of the killing of a leading banker and the assassination of a public prosecutor. But in keeping with the hard line taken by the government, Dr. Strauss was adamant on how the terrorists' demands should be treated.
He said the party congress was being held in the shadow of a bloody deed, while the life of a human being was at the mercy of terrorist blackmailers. But the party wanted to show who was the horse and who was the rider, he added, because the man in the street demanded this from responsible politicians.