Kommune 1 or
K1 was the first politically-motivated commune in Germany.
was created on January 12, 1967, in West
and finally dissolved in November 1969.
Kommune 1 developed from the extraparliamentary opposition of the
German student movement of the 1960s. It was intended as a
counter-model against the small middle-class family, as a reaction
against a society that the commune thought was very
first located (from February 19, 1967, until the beginning of
March, 1967) in the empty apartment of the author, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, in
Fregestraße 19, as well as in the studio apartment of the
author, Uwe Johnson, who was staying in
the USA, at
Niedstraße 14 in the Berlin district of Friedenau.
Enzensberger's return from a long study trip to Moscow, they left
his apartment and occupied the home of Johnson at
Stierstraße 3 for a short time and then finally moved to the
second floor of the back of a tenement house in
Stephanstraße 60 in the Berlin district of
Members of the "Munich Subversive Action" (such as Dieter Kunzelmann
) and of the Berlin
("SDS") (such as Rudi Dutschke
and Bernd Rabehl
) discussed how to break from what
they considered to be narrow-minded and bourgeois concepts.
Dieter Kunzelmann had the idea of creating a commune. They decided
to try a life of "those passionately interested in themselves".
Kunzelmann soon moved to Berlin. In Berlin, the SDS had its first
"commune working group
advanced the following ideas:
- Fascism develops from the nuclear family. It is the smallest cell of
the state from whose oppressive character all institutions are
- Men and women live in dependence on each other so that neither
could develop freely as people.
- This cell (that is, the small family) had to be shattered.
When it was proposed that this theory should be realized as the
practice of a life as a commune, many SDS members left, including
Rudi Dutschke and Bernd Rabehl, who did not want to give up their
marriages and lifestyles. In the end, nine men and women, as well as a
child, moved into the empty apartment of Hans Magnus Enzensberger and the
studio apartment of the author Uwe
Johnson in Berlin-Friedenau, who was staying in New York City at the time, on February 19, 1967.
Enzensberger's return from an extended study trip to Moscow, the
communards left and occupied the main residence of Johnson in the
nearby Stierstraße 3. They called themselves Kommune
The early communards included Dagrun
(divorced wife of Hans Magnus Enzensberger),
years old at that time, daughter of Hans Magnus Enzensberger),
Enzensberger's brother), Dieter
, Detlef Michel
March 25, 1967), Volker Gebbert
, ("the iron
Dorothee"), Dagmar Seehuber
. Rainer Langhans
joined in March of 1967. At
times, other people also lived in the premises of Kommune 1, such
as Dagmar von Doetinchem
The communards first tried to tell each other their own
biographical identity, to break the old certainties. They were very
different from each other. Correspondingly, the roles each of them
played were soon different. Kunzelmann was the "patriarch" and made
sure everyone knew it. His definition of the goals of the commune
were based on his time as a "situationist
" and in the "Subversive Action".
He was therefore in favor of getting rid of all securities, even
financial ones, which is why he scorned study grants, for example.
He wanted to abolish any property, any private sphere. And he was
against the principle of work, but for the principle of fun or
pleasure. Everyone could and should do what he wanted, as long as
it happened where everyone could see it.
Langhans, Teufel and the others wore long hair, beaded necklaces,
army jackets or Mao suits at the urging of the women of the
commune. Soon, they were paid for interviews and photographs. A
sign hung plainly in the hallway of their apartment: "First pay up,
The First Phase: Bizarre acts of provocation
During its entire existence, Kommune 1 was infamous for its bizarre
staged events that fluctuated between satire
. These events served as
inspiration for the "Sponti
" movement and other leftist
The "Pudding Assassination"
As the domestic commune life was too boring, the communards decided
to turn their internal experience into actions.
The first of these was the "pudding assassination" of US
Vice-President Hubert Humphrey
was scheduled to visit Berlin. On the evening of April 2, 1967, the
communards met in Johnson's apartment with about 20 other people
whom they knew from demonstrations. Kunzelmann presented his plan
of throwing smoke bombs in the direction of the Vice President on
the occasion of the state visit. None of the others besides
Langhans wanted to participate.
Police files indicate that the planned attack was revealed by a
secret service agent, since eleven students were arrested by
officials of Division I (Political Police) on April 5, 1967. They
were supposed to have met under conspiratorial conditions and
planned attacks against the life or health of the American Vice
President, Hubert Horatio Humphrey, by means of bombs, plastic bags
filled with unknown chemicals or with other dangerous tools, such
Those arrested were Ulrich Enzensberger, Volker Gebbert, Klaus
Gilgenmann, Hans-Joachim Hameister, Wulf Krause, Dieter Kunzelmann,
Rainer Langhans and Fritz Teufel. The tabloid Bild'
s headline was "Humphrey to be assassinated",
the weekly Zeit
spoke of "Eleven
". Even the New York Times
featured a report on the
dangerous plan of eight communards to attack the Vice-President
, and flour
. Because of
this negative publicity, Uwe Johnson hastily asked his friend and
neighbor Günter Grass
to evict the
students from his apartment. The next day, the communards were
released and gave their first press conference – they had become
celebrities, while the press and police officials had lost face in
the public eye. The publisher Axel
henceforth called the members of Kommune 1 "communards
The commune moved to an apartment in an old building on
Kaiser-Friedrich-Straße on Stuttgarter Platz in the district of
Berlin-Charlottenburg and later to Stephanstraße 60 in
Berlin-Moabit. Hardly a week passed without the communards staging
some kind of satiric provocation somewhere in Berlin, which made
headlines in the press. In one of them, the commune climbed up the
Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche to throw down hundreds of Little Red books from
The visit of the Shah and the K1 photograph
During a demonstration in front of the Opera against the visit of
The Shah of Iran
on June 2,
1967 (the death of Benno Ohnesorg
Fritz Teufel was arrested and accused of treason. It was not until
December that he was released, after he and many students with him
had begun a hunger strike. In the streets, sympathizers held wild
demonstrations, chanting "Freedom for Fritz Teufel" and "Drive the
devil out of Moabit!" (Moabit being
Berlin's prison and Teufel being German for devil).
During Teufel's absence from Kommune 1, the infamous phototograph
of the communards' naked behinds against the wall was displayed
with the headline: Das Private ist politisch!
personal is political")
The "Arsonist's Lawsuit"
On June 6, 1967, the "Arsonist's Lawsuit" was filed against
Langhans and Teufel because of flyers calling for arson
against department stores, which read, "Holt
euch das knisternde Vietnam-Gefühl, das wir auch hier nicht missen
wollen!" ("Catch that burning Vietnam feeling that we would not
want to miss at home!") The court ultimately ruled in favor of
Langhans and Teufel, however. They later told the story of the
lawsuit in their book, Klau Mich
("Steal Me"), which rose
to cult status.
attitude of the communards,
who did only what they felt like doing, not only polarized the
but also polarized the
especially disliked the provocative activities of the K1. The
provocative flyers of the K1 ("Water cannons are paper tigers")
that were signed with the acronym SDS, were a source of continual
irritation. Among other things, the communards were accused of
having no political interest, but merely indulging in egotism.
Hence in May of 1967, the SDS expelled the "revolutionary rowdies"
In the weekly newspaper Zeit
, Klaus Hartung
wrote: "Scarcely any political theory was more successful than that
according to which revolutionaries have to revolutionize, according
to which there will be no change in the society without a change in
Kommune 1 developed into a kind of refuge for alternative thinkers
for problems of all kinds; appeals for help arrived daily. The
house was under a veritable siege by friends and groupies
who worshipped Teufel and Langhans. Because
of the crowd of women, especially caused by Teufel, he was expelled
from the commune. He moved into a Munich commune and later belonged
to the Movement 2 June
The Second Phase: Sex, drugs and Uschi Obermaier
By the end of the 1960s, the societal climate had changed. In the
late summer of 1968, the commune moved into a deserted factory on
Stephanstraße in order to reorient. This second phase of Kommune 1
was characterized by sex, music, and drugs.
September 21, 1968, the commune went to the International Song Days
in Essen, the
Federal Republic's first underground festival. There, Langhans met
and fell in love with Uschi
Obermaier, a model from Munich.
lived with the Munich-based music commune Amon Düül
, but soon she moved in with
the communards of Kommune 1, who shared one bedroom. Soon, the
press called Langhans and Obermaier the "best-looking couple of the
The politization of the private sphere and the fact that Langhans
and Obermaier spoke openly to the media about their relationship,
about jealousy and about "pleasure machines" constituted the next
breaking of social taboos, ushering in the sexual revolution
. Later, John Lennon
and Yoko Ono
and others followed their example.
All of a sudden, the commune was receiving visitors from all over
the world, among them the legendary guitarist, Jimi Hendrix
, who turned up one morning in the
bedroom of Kommune 1. Obermaier fell in love with him.
Her modeling fees rose sharply, she was given a lead role in
's cult movie Rote Sonne
(1969). (Rote Sonne
. (Red Sun), and her photos were all over posters and
magazine covers. Rumor has it that the magazine Stern
paid her 20 thousand Deutschmark
(the price of a Porsche 911
at the time) for an interview and
nude photos of Obermaier.
The end of Kommune 1 and its legacy
Eventually, the energy of Kommune 1 was spent. Kunzelmann's
addiction to heroin
worsened and the second
communard was expelled from the commune. (It is said that the other
members of the commune left of their own will). Now and then, the
Munich women's communes appeared.
In November 1969, a gang of Rockers
those who remained and devastated the rooms. The remaining
occupants lost their belief in the future of Kommune 1 and they
dispersed. Obermaier and Langhans went to Munich.
A table from one of the rooms of the Kommune 1 was bought by the
politician Hans-Christian Ströbele
meetings around that same table, the newspaper die tageszeitung
and the German Chaos Computer Club
were founded. The
table was stolen in 1990, and there is some speculation as to its
- Enzensberger, Ulrich. 2004. Die Jahre der Kommune I.
Berlin 1967-1969. Köln: Kiepenheuer & Witsch. ISBN
- Fahlenbrach, Kathrin. 2004. The Aesthetics of Protest in
the Media of 1968 in Germany (conference paper). Proceedings,
IX International Congress of the International Society for the
Empirical Study of Literature, 2004. Available from:
- Rabehl, Bernd. 2003. Die Provokationselite: Aufbruch und
Scheitern der subversiven Rebellion in den sechziger Jahren.
(Teil 2: Die Revolte in der Revolte: Die Kommune 1.) Available
- Martin Klimke, Joachim Scharloth (eds.).2007. 1968.
Ein Handbuch zur Kultur- und Mediengeschichte der
Studentenbewegung. Stuttgart: Metzler. ISBN 3476020665
- Wolfgang Dreßen, Dieter Kunzelmann, Eckhard Siepmann (publ.):
Das Nilpferd des höllischen Urwalds. Situationisten -
Gruppe Spur - Kommune I. Anabas-Verlag, Gießen 1991.
- Rainer Langhans, Fritz Teufel: Klau mich. StPO der
Kommune I. Edition Voltaire, Frankfurt am Main and Berlin 1968
(Series: Voltaire Handbuch 2), Reprint (without pornographic
insert): Trikont Verlag, Munich 1977;
Rixdorfer Verlagsanstalt, Berlin undated 
- Christa Ritter, Rainer Langhans: Herz der Revolte.
Die Kommune 1 von 1967 bis 1969. Hannibal Verlag, 2005,
- Peter Szondi: Aufforderung zur Brandstiftung. Ein
Gutachten im Prozeß Langhans / Teufel. in: Der Monat, Berlin,
19th year, issue 7, 1967, p. 24-29, also printed in: Peter Szondi:
Über eine "Freie (d. h. freie) Universität".
Stellungnahmen eines Philologen. Suhrkamp Verlag,
Frankfurt am Main 1973 (Series: es 620)