The latest politician to be dragged into the Green Party's pedophilia scandal is Jürgen Trittin, the party's top candidate in the upcoming federal election. He was responsible for a 1981 election platform that included a call for the decriminalization of sex between minors* and adults.
The platform belonged to the Göttingen branch of the Alternative Green Initiative List (AGIL), a forerunner of the current Green Party, and was uncovered by political scientists Franz Walter and Stephan Klecha of the Göttingen Institute for the Study of Democracy. The organization was hired by the Green Party in May to investigate the party's affiliations with pedophile activists in the 1980s.
In an essay for the left-leaning Die Tageszeitung newspaper on Monday, Walter wrote that Trittin, at the time a student who was running for city council, was one of five members of an editorial board that signed off on the election manifesto. The document called for sex between minors and adults to be made exempt from punishment, so long as it involved neither violence nor the threat of violence.
As Walter explains, it was not uncommon for the AGIL to take over the platforms of minority interest groups.
Jürgen Trittin told Die Tageszeitung that the researchers' findings were correct. "It was simply taken for granted that we adopted one-to-one the demands of various fringe initiatives, such as those of the 'Homosexual Action Göttingen,'" Trittin said. "The responsibility was mine and it's a mistake I regret."
Co-Candiate Offers Support
Katrin Göring-Eckardt, who shares Trittin's position as the leading candidate in the upcoming election, said Trittin was unaware at the time that he was listed as one of the platform's co-authors. Trittin's name was the only one on the document that included a footnote stating he was "responsible according to press law" -- meaning he took legal responsibility for the contents of the document.
Göring-Eckardt said on public television broadcaster ZDF it was an "absolutely incomprehensible" that pedophiles found support in the Green Party of the 1970s and 1980s, and that she was "very glad" the chapter in the party's history is over.
The Green Party is spending more than €200,000 ($267,000) on the study to investigate its past history of support for pedophiles. The price tag is a handsome sum, considering the party's annual budget of €5 million, and suggests the party is eager to clarify and resolve the murky chapter in its history.
That history caught up with the party earlier this year, when comments on children's sexuality in the 1975 autobiography of Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Green Party representative in the European Parliament, resurfaced in the media.
The most recent revelation comes at an unfortunate time for the Green Party. With less than a week to go before Germany's general election, Trittin's political opponents have already begun to exploit the issue to discredit his campaign.
"Trittin needs to consider whether he really is the right man to be fronting the Greens," said Philipp Missfelder of the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU). Alexander Dobrindt, general secretary of the conservative Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU), told the website of the magazine Focus that Trittin should withdraw from his position as the Green Party's leading candidate in the election.
*Please note that this text has been changed to substitute the word "minors" for the word "children" to avoid misunderstandings. The law that the Green Party sought to eliminate related to sexual relations between adults and both youth and children. There was no mention in the Greens' demand for the elimination of the paragraph in question (§175 of the Strafgesetzbuch) of the introduction of a minimum age for sexual relations between adults and minors. The law was eliminated in 1990 and the absolute minimum age of 14 was introduced with varying protections for minors over the age of 14.