The thirty pound commission – learning about Horst Mahler

Photograph of a shelf in The Study of Nottingham Contemporary

A few days ago Yelena Popova invited a few people to create book-marks for The Study of Nottingham Contemporary as “a small intervention” for “the time of the Ping Shawky show opening (April 16)” for a fee of thirty pounds and a copy of a documenting “zine”. I’ve liked the things Yelena has done recently, her thoughts run in a similar direction to some of mine, so I popped down there yesterday afternoon and had a browse over the books on the shelves to see what I could find.


It wasn’t very long before I spotted a book called “The German Issue”, and I thought “I’m a German issue”, so I picked it up and had a look.

A glance over the editors introduction soon had me engrossed – it talked about the book being a 2009 re-publication from 1982, aiming to look at the radical left in Berlin and New York, East and West Germany’s and “the future of politics in late capitalism”, but also the editors unease at dealing with German issues, given his Polish/Jewish background, and having been raised in France during the occupation. I kept reading.

At the end of the introduction it mentioned an interview with a lawyer Horst Mahler who had been involved with the RAF – Red Army Faction – and that since the interview he had become head of the Nazi party in Germany and a Holocaust denier. “Bimey,” I thought – “how had that happened?” I read the interview, which discussed his moving away from the RAF, then researched him a little at home. When I discovered he was born in Haynau, Lower Silesia, in 1936, that clinched it: I think this might be an interesting subject for my contribution to Yelenas project. Not that I know what I’m going to do yet.

Yelena also asked Rob Van Beek, Wayne Burrows, Candice Jacobs, Aaron Juneau, Geoff Litherland, Sam Mercer, Simon Raven, Niki Russell and Thomas Wright.

“The German Issue” edited and introduced by Sylvère Lotringer, published by Semiotext(e) 1982 / 2009

Thanks to Jim Waters for permission to photograph in Nottingham Contemporary


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