The Green politician Hans-Christian Ströbele is dead. He died on Monday at the age of 83, as his lawyer Johannes Eisenberg announced.
The former RAF lawyer Ströbele, whose trademarks were a red scarf, bright white hair and his bicycle, was the first Green to be elected to the Bundestag by direct mandate in the Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg constituency in Berlin in 2002 and thus went down in party history. Ströbele co-founded the Greens and sat in the Bundestag for 21 years.
Active in the APO
It was not until 2017, at the age of 78, that Ströbele left active politics, but initially continued to run his law firm in Berlin. Before joining the Greens, he was active in what was then the Extra-Parliamentary Opposition (APO). Together with the later Federal Interior Minister Otto Schily and the later right-wing extremist Horst Mahler, he first defended activists of the student movement as a lawyer, then also terrorists of the Red Army Faction (RAF).
The son of a chemist from Halle an der Saale was a symbolic figure, especially for the left wing of the Greens, and never shied away from confrontations with his own party friends - for example with the former foreign minister and vice chancellor Joschka Fischer. Ströbele was against German participation in the Kosovo war, the deployment of the German armed forces in Afghanistan and the Hartz IV reforms. In Parliament, he repeatedly voted against the line of his group.
In recent years in the Bundestag, Ströbele has devoted himself intensively to the subject of secret services and made headlines with a visit to US whistleblower Edward Snowden in Moscow.
"Not the spirit, the body became his torment"
Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) paid tribute to Ströbele on Twitter: "His drive was to do politics and change society." Germany is losing a combative politician who has shaped the political debate for decades.
Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) said on the sidelines of the cabinet meeting at Schloss Meseberg that Ströbele was a politician "who impressed many people - including me - because of his straightforwardness, his unwavering commitment to civil rights and social policy". Bundestag Vice President Katrin Göring-Eckardt (Greens) spoke on the news portal T-Online of a "queer head and free spirit".
Berlin's governing mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD) praised Ströbele as a pugnacious left-wing democrat and champion of red-green coalitions. Ströbele was "a principled and consistent politician," said Giffey. "His personality represented his goals and beliefs."
"An icon of the struggle for democracy and peace"
The federal party of the Greens called Ströbele "an icon of the fight for democracy and peace", as co-party leader Omid Nouripour wrote on Twitter. "I am losing a wonderful ex-office neighbor from whom I learned so much about critical, substantive and respectful discourse." Co-leader Ricarda Lang wrote: "He deeply impressed me with his integrity and his unflinching fight against injustice."
The Greens parliamentary group tweeted: "Straightforward, sincere, persistent, that's how we experienced him in the group as a unique comrade-in-arms for democracy and the rule of law."
Co-chair of the parliamentary group Katharina Dröge said: "Ströbi, we will miss you! First Green party to ever win a direct mandate. Passionate fighter for the rule of law. Stubborn, sincere, undisguised. Without you, the Greens would not be what they are today. In We bid farewell with sadness." Top politicians from the left also expressed their respect.