It is 50 years ago that one of the leading figures of the German Student Movement was shot in West Berlin. He survived, but had to retire from the limelight and died 11 years later from the long-term effects of the attack. It is a moot point whether the movement and the country as a whole would have taken a different direction had the assassin missed his target. He didn’t, and the New Left had both a martyr and an excuse for its ultimate failure. 20 years ago, I contributed a chapter to Gerard de Groot’s book ‘Student Protest. The Sixties and After’ (London / New York 1998). In it I quote Rudi’s simple message:

Our life is more than money. Our life is thinking and living. It’s about us, and what we could do in this world … It is about how we could use technology and all the other things which at the moment are used against the human being.… My question in life is always how we can destroy things that are against the human being, and how we can find a way of life in which the human being is independent of a world of trouble, a world of anxiety, a world of destruction.