Hugh Lewin: Stones against the Mirror

Hugh Lewin: Stones against the Mirror„This is the book that was waiting to be written.
There have been many accounts of life in the active struggle against the arpartheid regime but this one is a fearless exploration into the deepest ground – the personal moral ambiguity of betrayal under brutal interrogation – actual betrayal of the writer by the most trusted associate and closest friend; and the lifetime question of whether one would have betrayed that same friend under such circumstances, oneself. …. Unforgettable, invaluable in facing now the ambiguities of our present and future.”
So Nadine Gordimer über Hugh Lewin’s “Stones against the Mirror” (Cape Town: Umuzi 2011).

Lewin erzählt vom Beginn seiner Politisierung im Zuge der “anti-removal campaign” von Sophiatown Mitte der 1950er-Jahre, von seinem Studium an der einzigen Universität des Landes, an der “black students from all ethnic groups” studieren durften und insofern einem Zentrum des Widerstands, Fort Hare; er erzählt von seiner Mitgliedschaft im “African Resistance Movement (ARM)”, von seinen Privilegien als Weißer (“cloaks of whiteness”): “The worst would always happen to them, not to us. (…) Thus our guilt. However much we hated the system, we benefited from it and it gave us protection. Nothing was simple, except colour. The ‘non-whites’ were fighting for their freedom and their dignity. They were born into a world that labelled them as ‘other’. We, on the other hand, were suffocaded by the privilege that made our lives comfortable. In some ways, though, it would have been easier to embrace that space and simply accept its ease, as most whites chose to do.” (S. 46) Lewin erzählt auch von seinen Erfahrungen in der TRC, in der er als Mitglied des Human Rights Violations Committee eingebunden war. Zwei Aussagen, jeweils von Müttern ermordeter Söhne, seien hervor gehoben: “There is just one important thing I would like to say before the comission, before our children and the whole country. At the beginning of the Struggle, the Struggle started at Wits University where white students threw away their books, and not even a single of them was tear-gassed or killed. But when black children fighting for their liberation they were shot by guns.” (S. 42f) Und an anderer Stelle, direkt an Archbishop Desmond Tutu gerichtet: “Do not take me wrong, my Bishop. You cannot make peace with someone who does not come to you and tell you what he has done. We will have peace only when somebody comes to you and says, ‘This is what i did, I did this and this and that and that.’ I do not want to lie to the house. I will not be able to forgive anyone until I know who they are. Then i will shake their hands. Otherwise I will not be able to forgive somebody that I do not know.” (S. 146.) Viele, die allermeisten, der Apartheid-Folterer und -Schlächter traten nie vor die TRC, um um Amnestie anzusuchen.

Im Zentrum des Textes stehen jedoch die persönlichen Erlebnisse und Erfahrungen nach Sharpeville 1960, “an event that showed the apartheid state would stop at nothing to retain power.” (S. 69) Einzelne Zirkel innerhalb der “ARM“, die sich vorwiegend aus (weißen) Mitgliedern der Liberal Party zusammen setzte, entschließen sich daraufhin zum “use of violence”: “ARM chose – like e.g. Umkhonto we Sizwe/MK (Anm. J.K.) – the minimal route of ‘protest sabotage’ to try to stir up the electorate by attacking installations – never people – and so shake the foundation of the kragdadige, stone-hearted regime. It was a perilous step to take (zumal, selbst darauf stand die Todestrafe (Anm. J.K.)), and there weren’t many whites who took it. My fellow-dynamiters were totally unsuited for their clandestine, quasi militaristic role. But it was the only way we could escape our whiteness. Apartheid had crippled us.” (S. 45) Die ARM wird, kurz nach Beginn des Rivonia-Prozesses, von der Polizei und dem Staatssicherheitsapparat aufgespürt, Lewin von einem Freund verraten und zu sieben Jahre Haft verurteilt. (Die Jahre in Haft hat Lewin in seinem viel beachteten “Bandiet out of Jail” beschrieben).
“Stones against the Mirror is organised as a journey from Park station, the site of the 1964 station bomb planted by John Harris, to York station, and towards a meeting with Lewin’s friend, Adrian Leftwich, the man who betrayed him to the Security Police. After 40 years, Lewin is determined to meet Leftwich to find out what happened at his trial and to deal with the anger and bitterness that have assailed him ever since.
In 1964, Hugh Lewin’s closest friend, Adrian Leftwich, was detained by the security police in Cape Town. Under torture he had given Lewin’s name, which led to him being arrested for anti-Apartheid sabotage. After a lifetime not being able to forgive Leftwich, Lewin decided to travel to try and face his former friend. By recording his journey from Park Station, Johannesburg to York Station, UK, Lewin examines the meaning of human connection and commitment.” (Quelle des Zitats)

Der erwähnte John Harris war übrigens der einzige Weiße, der vom Apartheids-Staat die Todesstrafe erhielt. Harris wurde 1965 in Pretorial Central erhängt. (Umso erstaunlicher, dass es ein Jahr zuvor im Rivonia-Prozess den Angeklagten gelang, die Todesstrafe zu verhindern.) Lewin setzt sich intensiv mit dem Risiko Menschenleben zu gefährden auseinander, das John Harris mit der Bombe in einem “whites-only” Bahnhof von Johannesburg eingegangen ist. Harris hat mehrere Zeitungen und die Polizei vor der Bombe gewarnt und um Evakuierung des Bahnhofes ersucht. Nichts geschah. Lewin kommt zum Schluß: “One thing is certain, though. Apart from the terrible loss of life and the injuries it caused, the bomb has a devastating political effect: it consolidated white opinion, led directly to the demise of the Liberal Party, and strengthened the hand of the white government for more than a decade, until Soweto 1976. On every level, the station bomb was a disaster.” (S. 116)

Lesenswert machen das Buch nicht nur die vielen Geschichten und Gedanken aus einem Zentrum des Widerstands gegen das Apartheids-Regime, sondern auch die eingeflochtenen Überlegungen über die Möglichkeiten des Danach-Darüber-Erzählens: “It’s been a struggle, writing about the Struggle. (…) It’s not going to please, this book. Some people will feel I’ve said too much; others that I haven’t said enough. A few (maybe more than a few) will say my memory has betrayed me. It just wasn’t like that.” (S. 187) Lewin zitiert einen Freund, Jock “Harold” Strachan, der ihn dazu ermutigt, seine Geschichte zu schreiben: “You don’t in fact have any material other than your own recollection, and what you’re suffering from is lack of confidence; so why not get in there. (…)? The risk otherwise is falling into archival truth. Nothing wrong with that, of course; it’s an honourable moral compulsion, but it’s not what litterature is made of. I mean, nobody wants to read it. Litterature is not a court record. All power to your pen, comrade.” (ebda)

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