What to do when the going gets rough?

Don’t panic!

This is the basic rule of every emergency plan, and therefore our own. It should help to prevent your arrest or your preliminary proceedings from turning into a catastrophe. Arrest during demonstrations or other actions, seizures of leaflets, newspapers etc., house searches, orders of summary punishment, and finally, trials – these are the measures anyone is confronted with today who is politically active in the fight against exploitation and oppression, regardless of whether she or he is an anti-Fascist, an anti-nuclear activist, an anti-militarist, a communist, or an anarchist. An accumulating series of new laws imposes ever more severe limits on even the few rights the capitalist state concedes in the realms freedom of expression and freedom to organize and demonstrate. State repression doesn’t diminish just because the left is growing weaker – on the contrary.

Since state institutions (have to) expect only little organized resistance, they can resort to attempts to criminalize political activity which simply wouldn’t go through in times of strong mass movements. Their attempts at intimidation and their strategies to criminal ize generally only work to the extent that we are incapable of overcoming our isolation from each other and organizing in a spirit of solidarity. An important pre-condition to actually practicing the first basic rule in an “emergency” is trust. Not in god’s omnipotence, fate, or the inseparable character of yin and yang, but trust in your comrades who will care for you when the shit hits the fan – and who will keep their mouth shut just as you do when questioned by police and public prosecutors!

We propose you this text (PDF) of medium size with all necessary information. Further down you find a short summery about demonstrations and a Selfportrait of Rote Hilfe and our solidarity work.

Ermittlungsausschuss (EA/legalteam)

Legalteam – finds out the whereabouts of arrested people – gets lawers

Think before demonstration

  • Take along your valid identity card, passport, visa and residence permit.
  • Take along small change and a phonecard.
  • Take along your health insurance certificate /card and 10 Euros for the case of medical treatment.
  • Take along a first-aid kit and necessary medicaments.
  • · Write down the EA-phonenumber.
  • · Take along something for writing.
  • · Empty all your pockets; just take along what you really need at the demonstration!
  • · Watch out: In Germany it is illegal to take along or wear things, that protect your body against violence (helmets, protectors, etc.), that can be used as weapons or prevent your identification (masks). So be careful.
  • · Drugs and alcohol don´t match with demonstrations; it endangers yourself and other people.
  • · Leave photographs, calendars, adress- and telephonebooks at home.
  • · Delete all memories on your cellularphone.
  • · Avoid the use of contact lenses and greasy ointments. Teargas will enrich in it.

Think about demonstration

  • · Think about what you are talking at the demonstration; there are many police-agents in the crowd.
  • · Don´t take pictures or videotapes from persons at the demonstration.
  • · Don´t go to demonstration by yourself. stay together in groups, before and after the demonstration.
  • · If the police arrests people: Try to write down their name, date of birth, address and nationality and report it to the EA.
  • · Private security agencies don´t have police or other authority rights. They are only allowed to do what any other cidizen is allowed to.

In case of arrest

  • · Shout your name, date of birth, address and nationality to the other demonstrators.
  • · You are obliged to tell the police your name, address, date and place of birth and your nationality only.
  • · Don´t talk about other things!
  • · Don´t make any statement! You got the right to say nothing. The policestation, policecar and jail are not the right place to talk. In this way you won´t incriminate yourself or other people.
  • · Don´t sign any paper! You are not obliged to sign anything even if they will tell you something else
  • · Ask about the reason for your arrest.
  • · Try to call the EA to inform it about your and other peoples situation.
  • · In case of a „Erkennungsdienstliche Behandlung“ (ED = taking pictures, fingerprints; registrating weight, bodymarks, tattoos, etc.) and in case of taking a DNA-sample renounce these measures verbally and let the police note it down. Don´t agree in taking a DNA-sample (saliva, hairs, other cellular material). Don´t sign any paper.
  • · At least you have to be released at the end of the next day. Otherwise you have to be taken to a judge.
  • · If you think you won´t get free in time, at least if you come to a judge insist on a lawyer. The EA can help you to get one. Take your right to say nothing even before the judge.

After you are released

· Report immediately to the EA. Even if you haven´t done it before: maybe someone else did.

Self-portrayal of Rote Hilfe:

Rote Hilfe (Red Aid) is a solidarity organisation supporting politically persecuted individuals from the political left. We offer legal aid and political and financial support. consulting times for legal aid support, every 2th & 4th monday a month from 8 to 10 pm at cafe Exzess, Leipzigerstr.91, Frankfurt


Rote Hilfe (Red Aid) is a solidarity organisation supporting politically persecuted individuals from the political left. Its focus is on politically persecuted persons from Germany; to the best of its ability, however, it includes politically persecuted individuals from other countries. Our support is aimed at all those left-wing individuals who, as a result of their political activities, such as publishing anti-state writings, participating in spontaneous strikes, or supporting political prisoners, lose their jobs, are brought to court, and sentenced.

1. Political and tangible assistance

Together with the accused, we prepare for the trial and raise public awareness, in particular to its political background. By means of solidarity events, fundraising and contributions from the membership fees paid by our members we ensure that many share the financial burden. Attorneys’ and court fees, in particular, can be reimbursed in part or in whole. In cases where heavy fines, the loss of his / her job, or imprisonment have caused financial difficulties for the person concerned or his / her family, contributions to their livelihoods can be made. We keep in touch with political prisoners wherever possible and advocate the improvement of the conditions of their imprisonment. In particular, we demand that solitary confinement be ended. We demand that political prisoners be released.

2. Rote Hilfe is not a charity organisation

The support provided to individuals should at the same time contribute to strengthening the movement. All those taking part in the struggle should be able to do so knowing that later on, if facing criminal proceedings, they will not be left to their own devices. The main purpose of persecution by the state is to isolate those who took to the streets together by singling out individuals and to impose exemplary penalties for the purpose of deterrence. Rote Hilfe counteracts this approach with the principle of solidarity, thereby encouraging a continuation of the struggle. Apart from immediately supporting those concerned, Rote Hilfe’s mission is to help fend off political persecution in general. In the run-up to demonstrations, for instance, Rote Hilfe encourages the participants to protect themselves and others as effectively as possible from injuries and arrests by the police. Rote Hilfe actively opposes the tightening of state security laws, any further erosion of the rights of defense, solitary confinement, and any further restrictions of the rights of free speech and assembly.

3. Membership and organisation of work at Rote Hilfe

Only individuals can be members of Rote Hilfe. There is no collective membership of groups or organisations, even though it is quite common for members of Rote Hilfe to be members of other organisations at the same time.Rote Hilfe’s work is organised at two levels:

—First, at the national level: The members (approx. 6,500 members in 2013) appoint delegates to the national delegates meeting of, which takes decisions on the principles and key aspects of Rote Hilfe’s work and which elects the national executive board. With their membership fees, members create the financial basis of the support work. The national executive board is responsible for the funds being used according to purpose and in line with the articles of association. This applies to the membership fees as well as any funds raised on specific occasions. The national executive board decides on the appropriation of membership fees, organises fundraising campaigns as well as national campaigns on specific occasions, and is responsible for the day-to-day work. It publishes the “Rote Hilfe Zeitung”, a quarterly magazine providing information to members and doing public relations at the national level.

—Second, there are local groups in several towns and cities (approx. 48 groups in 2013); the current list is published on the last pages of the Rote Hilfe Zeitung and on our website. Wherever there is a local group, the support and publicity work will be geared to the local political processes and carried out in cooperation with other local initiatives and organisations. The members’ meetings and the boards of the local groups take independent decisions on the key aspects of their work and the appropriation of locally raised funds.

4. Rote Hilfe regards itself as a solidarity organisation for the entire left.

This does not mean it claims sole representation. On the contrary, we aspire to cooperate with as many other support groups for court cases, solidarity funds, anti-repression groups, fact-finding committees etc. as possible. What it does mean is that we have the self-imposed standard of making no exclusions. In its articles of association, Rote Hilfe has pledged the following: “Rote Hilfe is a left-wing protection and solidarity organisation, independent from political parties and spanning various political currents. To the best of its ability, Rote Hilfe organises solidarity for all those persecuted in the Federal Republic of Germany because of their political activities, independently of their possible party affiliation or ideology. Political activities, by this definition, include, among others, promoting the goals of the workers’ movement and international solidarity; anti-fascist, anti-sexist, anti-racist, democratic or trade union struggles; and the fight against anti-Semitism, militarism and war. Our support is aimed at those who, because of their participation in such struggles, lose their jobs, are banned from their professions, are brought to court and sentenced to fines or terms of imprisonment, or suffer other disadvantages. Beyond that, Rote Hilfe’s solidarity encompasses those persecuted by reactionary forces in all countries of theearth.” (§2 of Rote Hilfe’s Articles of Association)

Beyond providing financial assistance, we want to provide political support and, as far as possible, raise public awareness to the causes people are persecuted for. This is why we seek political debates with those we support, and we may give our view on their activities. But we do not make our support conditional on the level of our agreement. Such political openness has not always been a matter of course with Rote Hilfe (cf. the brochure “20/70 Jahre Rote Hilfe”, available at the Rote Hilfe bookstore). At present, however, this political openness is not only stipulated in the articles of association; it has become our day-to-day practice and is reflected in the variety of cases that we support financially. Examples of approved as well as rejected support applications of the previous quarter are published in each edition of the Rote Hilfe Zeitung.

5. Does the left need a comprehensive solidarity organisation spanning

ideological and political differences?

Usually people who have been arrested, brought to court etc., receive support from the political environment in which the incriminated action took place. For instance, someone convicted for blocking a military facility can mainly rely on help from the peace movement. Persecuted anti-fascists can rely on the solidarity of the anti-fascist movement. We think that this obvious form of solidarity is the most important one and do not intend in any way to replace it. However, we want to supplement it.

—There are always people who participate in a protest march as individuals and could not expect any help from an immediate circle of supporters.

—Sometimes the financial burden through court costs etc or also through the requirements of publicity work is so heavy that it cannot be borne by one group alone.

—In many cases inquiries, arraignment and court trials through several levels of jurisdiction take so long that the political context has in the meantime long changed and that there is no one left to contact for help when the judgment takes legal effect. For these reasons, we consider a solidarity organisation necessary:

—which permanently works independently of political ups and downs

—which can grant reliable, if necessary long-term support payments due to regular donation funds

—which is organised nationwide and not restricted to the big cities

—which feels responsible for politically persecuted persons from all parts of the leftist movement

—which can react to ever stricter laws and waves of court trials at a national level

—which is able to initiate or support nationwide campaigns financially and politically.

Solidarity must be organised!


How do I apply for financial support?

We do our very best to see to it that the financial burden resulting from state persecution is shared by as many people as possible (see our self-portrayal up). Normally the processing of the support cases is done directly by our local groups. Address your application and documents to them. The addresses can be found on our homepage www.rote-hilfe.de. If there is no local group in your area, please send your documents directly to:

Rote Hilfe e.V. Bundesvorstand ¦ Postfach 3255 ¦ 37022 Göttingen

For an application, we need the following information from you:

—Name, address, if possible phone number, and ALWAYS your bank account (IBAN, BIC)

—Political classification of the incident: reason/pretext of the arrest, preliminary, proceedings, trial etc.

—Course and present state of the proceedings: Have there been any interrogations? Any other people involved? Charges, penalty orders, trail dates.

—Did you or anyone else give any evidence, and if yes, why?

—What were you charged with (please cite paragraphs §§)?

—Do you expect the case to go through more than one court (jurisdiction) level? Which one(s)?

—Have the proceedings been concluded and is the judgment final?

—Proof of cost – amount of the fine, legal charges, attorney’s fees.

—Has part of the cost been covered by other solidarity funds?

—Do you expect any further costs to arise?

—Are you in touch with a local Rote Hilfe group for counseling and local support? If not, do you want us to get you in touch with them?

Important notes:

Please file your application at the earliest possible date with the relevant local group. This enables us to process your application in a reliable way and provide you with the best possible support. Please note that any application must be received by us no later than 9 months after a legally binding judgment has been delivered. Please enclose copies of all relevant documents with your application: Penalty orders, indictments, judgment, invoices, etc.

Possible consequences for aliens due to (political) criminal prosecution

Even during the preliminary proceedings (i.e., before conviction), the aliens department can try to have you deported. Precondition is that you are charged with a “serious” crime, e.g., severe breach of the public peace. But in most cases, an attorney is able to successfully prevent that. For persons without a German passport, help by support groups and attorneys is even more important than usual! The danger of being deported is worst after a conviction. Refugees whose application for asylum has been granted or who are tolerated because they are threatened by torture or the death penalty in their country of origin enjoy the – relatively – best protection against deportation. They are protected by both the European Human Rights Convention and the Geneva Refugee Convention that ban deportation in such cases. But the political cooperation between states, e.g., the FRG and Turkey, has already led to the practical and legal breakdown of that principle. Most endangered by deportation are persons whose stay in the FRG is illegal, e.g., refugees whose asylum proceedings have been completed and are binding without receiving a tolerated status. In such cases, a (second) application for asylum should be filed by an attorney immediately after the arrest. This can at least delay the threatening deportation and win time to determine further steps. On the one hand, your political activity can lead to a criminal conviction, on the other, this can generate new grounds for applying for asylum. Thus, a successive application for asylum (“Asylfolgeantrag”) can be justified by the fact that you are involved in criminal proceedings as an activist against your country of origin.