Delfin Guerra

I had a big son and they sent him back to me so small.

-Marino Guerra, father of Delfin Guerra

Yo soy un hombre sincero
De donde crecen las palmas
Yo soy un hombre sincero
De donde crece la palma
Y antes de morir yo quiero
Echar mis versos del alma

I am a sincere man
From where the palms grow
I am a sincere man
From where the palm grows
And before I die I want to
Pour out my verses from the soul

-from the song, Guantanamera

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We demand:

-The legal reappraisal of the deaths in Merseburg on August 12, 1979 and all other racist murders in the GDR
-Compensation for the families of the victims
-Compensation for the former contract workers in the GDR who did not receive their promised wages.
-The construction of memorials
-Breaking the silence, the naming of racism and the accompanying acceptance of responsibility by German society.

Why is remembrance policy work important? Why are memorial sites important?

Places of remembrance remind us to remember. They remind us to take responsibility for the past in the present. They remind us that places do not have the same meaning for all people.

By whom is history told? Who is part of the story? About whom and by whom are there stories? Memory-political work tries to prevent a rewriting of historically grown power relations.

When history is told, it is usually not from the perspective of the people who were discriminated against, excluded or killed. This is what we want to change.

Remembering victims of racism means not only looking into the past, but also preventing the circumstances that led to the acts in today. Racism runs as a structural continuity through the GDR to today's FRG and shapes our current society. A historical understanding and analysis of past events can help us understand the present and sharpen our view of the problems and dangers we face today.

For example, there is a societal focus on "the wall" that separated West Germany from East Germany. The invisible wall, which systematically excluded contract workers from GDR society, remains mostly unseen. Therefore, we want to focus on people who usually play a marginal or even no role in public historiography.

Places of remembrance should help to make their voices and stories visible to everyone.

Why in Merseburg?

Delfin Guerra and Raúl Garcia Paret were killed in Merseburg on August 12, 1979. Hardly anyone knows their names, hardly anyone knows the circumstances of their deaths.

Even today racist attacks take place in Merseburg. It is the responsibility of the city of Merseburg to recognize these conditions, to come to terms with them and to prevent them. Those affected must not be left alone. Neither in Merseburg, nor elsewhere!

The "Initiative 12. August" demands a reappraisal of what happened in Merseburg on August 12, 1979. We demand a collective remembrance of the two people who died that day. And support for their families, who are still in the dark about what happened to their loved ones.

At the same time, we want to inform about the situation of contract workers in the GDR, whose everyday life was marked by racism and exclusion, and show that our society then as now has a problem that has already cost the lives of too many people: racism!

Legal reappraisal of the murders in Merseburg

We demand a reopening of the proceedings to clarify the deaths on August 12, 1979 in Merseburg. We support the demand of the family of Raúl Garcia Paret for a comprehensive clarification of the deeds. For years, the relatives of the two were not told the truth about the causes of death. Only through journalists did the families learn about the circumstances of the deaths.

We demand an appropriate apology as well as compensation for the relatives and the resumption of the proceedings as requested by them. We demand that those responsible be held accountable and that those affected not be left alone!

Recognition of historical responsibility

Guilty are the people who murder and incite. But also responsible are those who promote, tolerate or ignore racism. Therefore, we call on the city of Merseburg to work for a comprehensive clarification.

We also demand a comprehensive clarification of all racist murders and acts of violence in the GDR and recognition as such. Only in this way can the historical reality be mapped and we can draw conclusions and learn from it. So far, there has been hardly any research on racism in the GDR. The exact numbers of racist attacks and murders between 1945 and 1990 in East Germany are unclear. Often, industrial accidents or similar were used as a pretext. We demand more research to ensure a comprehensive reappraisal and not to wriggle out of responsibility by remaining silent!

This goes hand in hand with an acknowledgement of the inhumane treatment of contract workers in the GDR. This includes the exploitation of their labor, the deliberate use of post-colonial power relations, as well as the state-provoked exclusion. Be it in segregated apartments, as well as through strict rules, which, for example, forbade romantic relationships between contract workers and GDR citizens, etc.

Furthermore, we demand adequate compensation for the former contract workers, most of whom had to leave the country in the course of reunification. Part of their wages was withheld in order to be paid out as so-called transfer payments after the end of the contract. Many people are still waiting for these wages because of pretextual problems of responsibility. Today, former GDR contract workers in Mozambique are still demonstrating for the payment of their wages.

Breaking silence

Just two days after the events of August 11 and 12, 1979, the ongoing investigation by the People's Police against five suspects was suspended by the MfS (Ministry for State Security). Since then, silence has been maintained about the violence that resulted in several injuries and the deaths of two people. Murder has no statute of limitations! We demand an end of the silence, this includes the reopening of the proceedings as well as the naming of the racism in the GDR and today! In Merseburg and everywhere!

Commemoration of the murdered - continuities until today

"In fact, East German racists today build on what developed there until 1990, and they operate today with what is possible in terms of personnel and structure under the valid conditions. Due to the unification of East-German racism with West-German racism, an everyday racism emerged in Germany, which is qualitatively and quantitatively and thus essentially different from the preceding racism. This process allowed the racists to become a socially, relevant force since 1990."[1] According to historian and sociologist Harry Waibel.

Recent election results have made this clear once again.

We demand education instead of racism! To finally do something different, to learn from history and to acknowledge that racism does not simply disappear when ignored, but keeps growing and costs people their lives!

So we also declare our solidarity with current anti-racist struggles in Merseburg and everywhere where people are excluded and experience violence! In times of a strengthening right, we call for a clear sign against it. On August 12th in Merseburg and every day!

Nunca olvidaremos! Against the silence! Against forgetting!

For an open society!

Initiative 12. August

[1] Waibel, Harry:Kritik des Rassimus in der DDR, Berlin 2008 [ entnommen: 01.06.2019;]