Where were you when RFK was shot


Alan Posener

To person

Born in 1949; freelance writer, currently a correspondent for the "Welt" group; Author of the book "John F. Kennedy. Biography" (2013); Axel-Springer-Strasse 65, 10888 Berlin. [email protected]

In the minds of most Americans, the murder of John F. Kennedy is one of the three worst tragedies in recent history, alongside the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and the attack on New York and Washington on September 11, 2001. But while the The historical consequences of Pearl Harbor and "9/11" are obvious, on November 22nd, 1963, they are by no means so clear. The Japanese attack dragged the United States into World War II and sealed the defeat of the Axis powers. The al-Qaeda attack dragged the US into a "war on terror" that is still ongoing and the consequences of which cannot yet be foreseen. Does JFK's murder have any meaning beyond personal tragedy and rampant conspiracy theories?

Sarajevo 1914 - Dallas 1963

Many historians have fundamentally questioned whether a political assassination attempt could have any impact on world history. It is not people who are decisive, but forces that work objectively: Nations and their interests, for example, power blocs, alliance constellations and historical trends. Every historically interested person knows that the First World War began with the assassination of the Austrian heir to the throne in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914. But relatively few people would know straight away who killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie Chotek were and why, and why this attack could lead to that "primal catastrophe" in which 20 million people died, three empires perished and the foundations were laid for the further catastrophes in Europe in the 20th century. The question of guilt has moved generations of historians; the shots in Sarajevo seemed like the accidental trigger of the catastrophe that sooner or later devoured Europe, even without this cause. Only now has the historian Christopher Clark drawn attention again to the conspirators, the history and circumstances of the assassination attempt; As he himself writes, his own gaze has sharpened the impact of the conspirators of "9/11" on world history. [1]

Kennedy's successor Lyndon B. Johnson clearly understood that the murder of John F. Kennedy could have an effect similar to that of the assassination attempt in Sarajevo, or even worse. Lee Harvey Oswald, who was arrested shortly after the attack and murdered two days later, emigrated to the Soviet Union in 1959 and did not return to the USA until 1962, where he had developed pro-Cuban political activities. Was he "turned around" by the Soviet secret service during his time in Moscow and Minsk? Was he a "sleeper" just waiting for the signal to strike? Was Kennedy's assassination a revenge for the humiliation of Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev in the 1962 missile crisis in Cuba? Or had the Cubans recruited Oswald? Was the Dallas assassination the answer to the landing of CIA-led Cuban exiles in the Bay of Pigs in 1961, with whose help Kennedy Cubas Máximo Líder Fidel Castro wanted to overthrow? Or was it a reaction to the "dirty war" waged since then by the CIA under Robert Kennedy's leadership against Cuba, including assassination attempts against Castro?

If there was even strong suspicion in that direction, Johnson had to act. If the Soviet Union was behind the murder, war had to break out. If it was the Cubans, the island was invaded regime change and inevitable to punish the guilty. Castro’s Soviet allies, on the other hand, would hardly be able to stand idly by as their Caribbean client took off Yanquis is dumped without suffering a total loss of face and authority within the communist bloc. Even under these circumstances, there would most likely be a war between the superpowers.

And what that meant, Kennedy had calculated on the occasion of the Berlin crisis of 1961, which was ended by the construction of the Berlin Wall: The "SIOP 62" plan drawn up by the military under the previous government provided for 3432 atomic bombs to be used against "military and urban- industrial objectives "in the Soviet Union. According to this plan, 54 percent of the Soviet population would be killed within the first 72 hours: 100 million people. The military expected Soviet counterattacks that would kill between five and ten million Americans. The countless wounded were not included in these calculations, not to mention the deaths from nuclear fighting in Central and Western Europe, the consequences of the enormous amounts of radioactivity released and the collapse of agriculture, industry, trade and transport. The "atomic holocaust", as it was called at the time, would certainly have meant the end of European civilization, perhaps even humanity. In other words: If the murder of John F. Kennedy had had a world-historical significance comparable to the assassination attempt on Franz Ferdinand, we would probably not be there today to speculate about it.

John F. Kennedy as a pop culture icon

Instead, fifty years after his death, John F. Kennedy is surrounded by the almost unreal aura of the stars of his era who died young: James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Buddy Holly. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline - "Jack and Jackie" - have long since withdrawn from politics and history and have become style icons. Cynical as it sounds, this includes early death. James Dean will never age. Had Elvis Presley died a similarly early death, he would never have become a caricature of himself. Jack Kennedy remains the shining hero who was ambushed on that sunny autumn day in Dallas. He remains the embodiment of the question: "What if?"

The aura of the unreal is heightened by the fact that the circumstances that shaped Kennedy's worldview and politics now seem like the distant past. In a way, the First World War is more relevant to us than the Cold War, which reached its extreme climax during Kennedy's tenure with the building of the Berlin Wall and the missile crisis around Cuba. That the Cold War ended happily with a victory for the West without a shot being fired, that the ghost of communism dissolved almost overnight, makes the whole epoch look like a bad dream in retrospect - at least in the West. Those years of constant fear and occasional hysteria in the shadow of atomic annihilation hardly seem real to even the people who lived through them. If you want to write a biography of Kennedy today, you will notice that you first have to explain terms that were familiar to every reader 25 years ago: Soviet Union, CPSU, Warsaw Pact, East and West, nuclear race, German division.

Western societies have also changed. Between Kennedy and us lies the social and cultural revolution of the 1960s. The apartheid system that shaped the southern United States during Kennedy's lifetime has been overcome, as has European colonialism. (When Kennedy was elected, Algeria was still - as a French department - part of the EEC, the predecessor organization of the European Union!) Europe has become multicultural; the president of the usa is an african american. Not even Martin Luther King dared to dream of it.