German prisons: Anonymous letter from inside

Received November 24th 2015:

Our friend and comrade has been in prison for over 4 months now and is currently being held in “Untersuchungshaft” in Germany. Here are a few words that reached us from the dungeons.

With midnight always in one’s heart,

And twilight in one’s cell,

We turn the crank, or tear the rope,

Each in his separate Hell,

And the silence is more awful far

Than the sound of a brazen bell.

After having been arrested and taken to prison in a small border town somewhere in South-Eastern Europe, and having had the “pleasure” of spending three weeks in its state-hotels, I now find myself in the claws of the German state. At the moment of writing I still do not know when I will be free again; no “official” accusation has been sent, no court date has been set. In theory, “U-haft” can take up to six months- depending on the wishes and whims of prosecutors and judges however this period can be extended. So far i have not been wrecking my head over it too much. The insecurity of not knowing what will happen next, or when, is one of the more difficult things in this situation, but i refuse to torture myself with questions that for now remain unanswerable. Whatever is to come, I will face it with my head held high.

The circumstances under which i am held here I suppose could be pronounced “harsh” (no phone calls, all communication with the outside world subjected to voyeuristic interference- the prosecutor reading all letters to and fro, visits always in the presence of a screw and overzealous criminal police) but then again, i would not expect any different from those i consider my enemies. For that they are, and among them the friendlier faces of oppression: the priests, the therapists, the social workers, … (someone once rightly remarked how only two kinds of people enter prison: those who can leave again voluntarily, and those who cannot.) And when the incessant imposed control, discipline, and “re-socialisation” fail to succeed, self-flagellation is never far. No need for pacification or control when all possible critique is transformed into a mea culpa, when the prevailing idea among those locked up is that one is in prison because one did something “wrong”, is “guilty” of something and now has to pay the price for it.

I do not want to enter a discourse that speaks in terms of innocence and guilt, for the juxtaposition at stake is not between these two “categories” formulated in the language of domination, the language of law; a language absolutely antagonistic to my own. It is, simplistic put, between those who desire freedom and those who steal it from them. And this has little to do with the double row of bars blocking my window, with the triple layer of walls and gates surrounding this place. As one of the philosophical cadavers of the university has written in a not too distant history, “prison continues, on those who are entrusted to it, a work begun elsewhere, which the whole of society pursues on each individual through innumerable mechanisms of discipline”. This work however simultaneously continues inside and outside of prison; prison is not “external” to society, it is simply another one of the many expressions of domination.

And in this pan-optical world every act of rebellion, whether it is robbing a bank or stealing a loaf of bread, is a negation of the omnipresent control imposed upon us, a deafening or barely audible No in the face of domination. Expropriation is merely one of the means in the vast array of those available to take back what is stolen from us on a daily basis – our self-determination, the freedom and possibility to construct our lives according to our own wishes and desires. With every act of rebellion we reappropiate our lives and dignity, with every act of rebellion we simultaneously negate the existing relations of power and oppression and affirm the ability to decide over our own existence. And although my existence is temporarily on hold – for this is not life – my heart beats far beyond these walls.

Love and solidarity to those in struggle everywhere,
be it a deafening or a barely audible one.

november 2015