Police inspector Michael Fritsch delivered a moving speech at a protest in Dortmund, Germany on 9th Aug 2020. Below is a translation of his speech with some omissions. I have not translated the middle part of the speech which makes detailed reference to specific German laws. “The title of my speech is: ‘I’m a patriot, not an idiot.’...My name is Michael Fritsch, I’m 57 and I’m a chief police inspector. I joined the police force in Lower Saxony when I was 17 and this has been my life. My father was a police officer and so is my brother. And I am the father of 3 wonderful grown-up children…. In full awareness of the possible consequences, I decided to prepare this speech and read it for you word for word; believe me, I have given much consideration to every single word…Up until now I have never been politically active nor have I expressed myself publicly. On 1st August for the first time in my life I participated (as a citizen) in a protest in Berlin. This protest for peace and freedom in Belin with several hundred thousand people was simply phenomenal, and without doubt (alongside various church gatherings that I have been involved in) the most peaceful that I have every seen. Thank you to all those who contributed to this.
In 1981 I took an oath to the constitution and for many years I considered this constitution and our form of state to be the best in the world because it contained good provisions to prevent abuse. Article 20 of the constitution (German Grundgesetz) states that all power comes from the people, and this same article prevents abuse by the firm separation of state power into three groups: the executive, legislative and judiciary. For a long time, journalists formed the 4th unwritten power by investigating and often revealing political scandals. In my view, there has been no separation of power for some time. Why? Those who govern the police are tied to politics. Can anybody have a career in the police who is making politically undesirable decisions? Laws are drafted by lobbyists and often politicians have had to explain to courts why their laws are unconstitutional. And the media…I was in Berlin and I know how many of you, how many peaceful individuals were there. At this point I would like to remind all media representatives and politicians: ‘if you lie once, nobody will believe you again, even if you later speak the truth’ (German proverb). You have practically dug your own grave. Humanity is neither blind nor stupid, and the whole world today can seek information via many channels and reveal your lies. There are many lies and many opinions, but there is only one truth…We were taught that our job is to protect all people and defend the peaceful democratic foundation of our society. We also learnt that our fundamental human rights were enshrined by the fathers of our constitution as unalterable and eternal. Breaches of basic rights and restrictions were and are today only possible through laws. And these restrictions/incursions are in all cases subject to a complex process of scrutiny to establish the legitimacy of the measure. Whilst legislators take time to assess the legitimacy of measures, police officers must make these kinds of decisions every day within minutes – based on what they have learnt or simply on instinct. And every one of these ad hoc police decisions has earnt our respect, even when an officer sometimes in the heat of the moment (in a conflict) gets it wrong.
I firmly believe that in comparison to other countries we have a very well-educated police force which respects all people. And if we listen to statements from people coming from other countries, we have here the best police force in the world.” Mr Fritsch proceeds to quote various articles from the German constitution. These are in defence of human liberties. Mr Fritsch illustrates how the Corona measures are inconsistent with the constitutional provisions. “Without a legal basis, every restriction or infringement of basic rights is unjustifiable and unconstitutional. As police officers, we may not carry out illegal orders. In this regard we have not only the right but the duty to remonstrate. This is available for everyone to look up in the relevant legal passages… Every one of you has the legal responsibility….Andreas Clauss, who sadly died far too young, said the following: ‘It is always said that our politicians are stupid, but they are not. They represent certain interests. If you want to understand politicians, then ask yourself: whose interests do they represent?” When did you last see the appraisal of your superiors or of a politician? You all constitute the executive power and so you are all guarantors of the rule of law in this country. I have watched and re-watched the footage of the police colleague in Berlin, as he stood directly in front of the masses in attempt to break up the protest. I cannot believe that this decision to break up a perfectly peaceful gathering of so many people was a police decision; I believe that it was a political decision. I can only imagine what thoughts must have run through the police officer’s head in these moments which may have seemed like an eternity. He no doubt had to battle with himself to choose which path to take. I am convinced that he will later regret the choice he made. He would have made it into the history books, and this shows the current situation in which we all find ourselves - a conflict of conscience. Does conscience win? Or obedience?
Of course, laws can change over time, but justice must never give way to injustice. As a civil servant I am bound by an oath of loyalty; but this loyalty is exclusively towards the constitution and my state of Lower Saxony. I have sworn an oath to our constitution and our laws, but not to a political agenda or a party. As a civil servant I have superiors and to an extent I must follow their governance, but I owe unconditional obedience to no man. My remit is to serve all people, in particular those in urgent need, for I am a police constable.
In the darkest chapter of our national history, those in power demanded unquestioning obedience from the police force / military and used them to commit the most atrocious crimes against other people. When I saw the terrible images, I always asked myself how people could inflict such unthinkable suffering on others. I hoped with all my heart that this would never happen again. Today I am scared, for a gut feeling tells me that everything is moving in that same direction once again. A professor of psychology from Vienna said in a film that not all people in the Third Reich were evil; but it was the vast majority of the population that kept quiet, did nothing and so themselves supported the terrors of the actual perpetrators. Dear politicians, look into your hearts and ask yourselves as human beings, as mothers and fathers, whether or not you can and ought to allow this to happen. Think about your duty and join us.
Each and every one of you has the responsibility for your own actions, and sooner or later you will be held to account. So, join us. Every day we are growing in number; you cannot stop it any longer. Nobody can stop this any longer. You cannot lock away millions of people; nor can you monitor them or worse. The critical point is now long passed, and so it depends on all of you and our soldiers whether the impending societal change will occur peacefully or violently. Only we, the executive power, can do justice to our constitutional duty in this situation and restore power to the people. I have no doubt that my behaviour will lead to professional and disciplinary consequences. To anyone who wishes to speak to me about this I simply ask two questions: first, what kind of state/society do we live in? The correct answer is: in a parliamentary democracy. My second question is: how do you describe a type of state where nobody is allowed to have or express a personal opinion? And the only correct answer to this is: a dictatorship.
With all my heart I am an advocate of peace, freedom, love and justice. I am a patriot, a patriot of our constitution. I am a father and I am a free man. Thank you.” Translation by S.J.Banks, Manchester, England, 28/08/20 * The day after making this speech, Mr Fritsch was suspended from duty pending an investigation into his conduct. His house was subsequently searched by armed police with a warrant. The warrant authorised the search on the grounds that Mr Fritsch may be a 'Reichsbuerger' (an anti-government extremist.)