Author takes a hatchet to the Greens' dead heroes

A NEW book about the deaths of environmental campaigner Petra Kelly and her companion, General Gert Bastian, has unleashed a wave of bitterness and mutual accusations in Germany. Several of Kelly's and Bastian's closest friends and family, who helped Alice Schwarzer in her researches for A Deadly Love, now accuse her of betraying the memories of the dead couple.

Schwarzer's thesis is that Kelly was killed by Bastian, who wanted to escape from her suffocating embrace. He then shot himself. Kelly apparently used to tell Bastian, with startling frequency: 'I cannot live without you.' His logic, says Schwarzer, was that if he could not leave her when she was alive, he would have to leave her dead.

The deaths, in October last year, caused shock throughout Germany. Kelly and Bastian were two of the most charismatic figures in German politics: the former general, who had moved from the Bundeswehr, the German army, to the peace movement, and Petra Kelly, the MP and world's most famous Green.

Within days of the discovery of the bodies in the house that Kelly shared with Bastian in Bonn, conspiracy theories abounded. The official version was 'double suicide'; later, it was acknowledged that Bastian almost certainly pulled the trigger not once, but twice. Kelly is thought to have been asleep. But the motive remained obscure.

Schwarzer is scornful of the fact that a memorial ceremony held in Bonn two weeks after the bodies were discovered was 'for killer and victim alike'. She is critical of the treatment of Bastian and Kelly as heroes in death, as well as in life.

The book portrays 44-year-old Kelly as an obsessive neurotic, who could scarcely move without the 69-year-old Bastian to attend to her every whim. She went to bed at four or five in the morning, leaving him notes of errands to carry out in the morning; she hated him to leave her even for a short while. She became ill whenever Bastian went to visit his wife, Lotte, with whom he remained on friendly terms, and of whom he used to say: 'I want to grow old with her.'

Bastian's and Kelly's life appears to have been full of unusual triangles. Palden Tavo, a Tibetan lover of Kelly's, accompanied her and Bastian on some of their trips. When Mr Tavo sought to break off the relationship, Bastian wrote letters imploring him to renew contact with her. In Schwarzer's account, Mr Tavo noted in his diary a comment from Bastian: 'If things go really badly, then I will go - and take Petra with me.' Bastian's family, on the other hand, suggest that he may have suffered a heart attack, then killed Kelly and himself.

Bastian's son, Till, has accused Schwarzer of describing conversations between himself and his father that never took place. But Bastian's widow, Lotte and daughter, Eva seem to have accepted the book to some extent.

Eva Bastian argues that her father carried on, with 'soldier's duty', even when he was 'sick and no longer really able to support her'. She said: 'I cannot forget the friend of both of them, who said to me at the memorial service in Bonn: 'We all hid behind Gert's broad shoulders'. '

There are rumours that Bastian may have been a part-time agent for the Stasi, and may therefore have been subject to blackmail. But the true reason for the deaths is unlikely ever to be known.

Kelly's friends probably expected that, in Schwarzer, a well-known feminist author, they would find a sympathetic chronicler.

In that, they have been disappointed. Three of those closest to Petra Kelly - her mother Margarete, her best friend Erika Heinz, and her close colleague Lukas Beckmann - who are thanked at the beginning of the book, have complained of the 'sheer cynicism' of Schwarzer's writing, and have demanded that the 'unasked-for' expression of thanks be removed. According to their statement, Schwarzer's book is 'journalistically and humanly impermissible . . . a misuse of the dead for her own ends, and a falsification of life'.

Beckmann describes A Deadly Love as a 'voyeuristic piece of work, sloppily researched'. He accuses Schwarzer of inventing quotations and getting what she needed by deceit.

But Schwarzer denies inventing quotations, and argues that the attacks on her are merely a way of deflecting the main arguments. 'Uncomfortable truths are to be suppressed again, this time by discrediting the author,' she said. She blames the 'bad conscience' of Kelly's and Bastian's friends towards the two victims, who were 'very lonely, by the end'.

With pious anger, Schwarzer argues: 'Two people are supposed to be turned into icons. And now the kitsch which drove them to their deaths is supposed to draw a veil over their lives and work.' The book has been serialised, and is selling well.

(Photograph omitted)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
Arts and Entertainment
Preparations begin for Edinburgh Festival 2014
Edinburgh festivalAll the best shows to see at Edinburgh this year
News
i100
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm, actor was just 68
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Wind Farm Civil Design Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principal Marine Mechanical Engineer

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principle Geotechnical Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Renewable Energy Construction Manager

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices