An inquiry into alleged violations of human rights in West Germany got under way in Frankfurt on Wednesday (29 March).
GV EXTERIOR: Town hall and poster. (2 SHOTS)
GV INTERIOR: Delegates taking seats.
SV: Professor H. Gollwitzer, PAN TO other delegates.
SV: Other delegates. (4 SHOTS)
CU & ZOOM OUT: Professor V. Dedijer declaring meeting open...applause.
GV: Crowd listening. (4 SHOTS)
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Background: An inquiry into alleged violations of human rights in West Germany got under way in Frankfurt on Wednesday (29 March). It is the third Russell Tribunal, based on an organisation set up by the late British philosopher Bertrand Russell. One of its many critics in West Germany, former Chancellor Willy Brandt, has denounced the tribunal as an attempt to defame West German democracy. He has warned members of his Social Democratic Party to have nothing to do with it.
SYNOPSIS: The delegates met in Frankfurt's town hall. A major topic they were due to discuss, as part of their inquiry into West German civil rights, was the ban on Communists holding jobs as government officials.
Professor Helmut Gollwitzer, who is professor of Protestant Technology in West Germany, is a member of the German advisory council. A group of British MPs, who support the tribunal, have discounted accusations that it is biased and influenced by Communists. They contend the issues to be discussed should concern all people in Western Europe who value civil liberties.
Professor Vladimir Dedijer an historian from Yugoslavia, formally declared the tribunal open. A former Yugoslav delegate to the United Nations, he was a member of the first two Russell tribunals, which held hearings into the Vietnam war and alleged violations of human rights in South America.
Several of the individual cases the tribunal will probe concern teachers who say they have been refused jobs because the authorities did not like their line of political thinking. One of the five members of the jury the tribunal has set up is a former German U-boat commander.