Solidarity is a weapon – Support Natalja!

Solidarity is a weapon – Support Natalja!

On Saturday the 9th of February, Natalja was arrested during a demonstration in München, Germany against the NATO ‘security’ conference that is held there every year in February. She’s accused of having violently resisted police measures. A judge decided that she was to be taken to the prison of München. Natalja had been previously arrested during the G8 summit in Germany last summer and got convicted to 10 months imprisonment. She also has a third trial hanging after that she was arrested on the demo on the first of May last year. It is likely that she will have to spend some time in prison. During one month, she has not had any visit. On the 30th of April, her trial will take place in München.

We publish parts of a letter she recently wrote from prison.

I went to Munich (the ‘capital’ of the state of Bavaria in southern Germany – known for the traditional ‘Oktoberfest’…) to join the protest against the Nato war conference (officially called Security Conference) which takes place in Munich every year in February. It is a meeting of political leaders, military representatives and members of the arms lobby, who all follow the invitation of the Quandt foundation. The Quandt family is main shareholder of the BMW Corporation, a company producing cars but also military equipment like vehicles and arms. (The roots of their wealth and influence were in chemical industry – including the exploitation of prisoners of a concentration camp during World War II.)

In spite of the ‘private’/’commercial’ background of the conference the men and women ‘of honour’ meeting there have the status of official guests of the federal Republic of Germany. The German army (Bundeswehr) is responsible for the location…


First of all I have to say that I feel ashamed of my own damned passive behaviour: I am confronted with an artificial environment constructed to control people and forcing them to adapt to a way of life that seems to be frozen. Prison is a complex structure of intimidation, emptiness, humiliation and pressure.

I learn about the personal situation and the problems of the other inmates and get a feeling of the tragedies of the so called ‘illegal immigrants’, a feeling for what it means to wait for your deportation behind bars, which is what many women in here do, waiting for their deportation being isolated and helpless…

So this is my situation. – And my reaction? I don’t react. I don’t act. I just am – and remain myself. But the only thing I do is waiting for the time to pass and trying not to let things come too close.

For me imprisonment began with a kind of shock that is slowly disappearing. It is replaced by a state of permanent distress, which is, however, rather in the background and is covered with a thick layer of tiredness, boredom and exhaustion.

At the moment I’m in a cell in the 3rd floor and I’ve got the cell to myself. I’m glad about that. Being alone for 22 hours a day is a real problem. – But not having any time for myself, not being able to spend even 5 minutes on my own within months would be an even bigger problem for me.

The day begins at 6 o’clock in the morning (at 7 o’clock in the weekend). Then the guards switch on the light. (There is no electricity inside the cells). The door remains shut, but we get hot water or ‘coffee’ through an opening in the door, which is closed afterwards. At quarter to eight the door is unlocked and the prisoners get clean underwear. We have to give back the worn underwear at first…So we have to wear a bathrobe for this procedure.

Between quarter to ten and quarter to eleven we may spend one hour in open air. The yard is in the centre of the prison so that we can only see walls and bars and ‘a piece of sky’ and some green grass and one nice tree. Unfortunately we have to walk in the shadow all the time because the sunlight doesn’t find a way down into the yard. I think it’s a little bit like a cave.

At around 11 o’clock everybody gets their lunch. I always wait impatiently until quarter past three in the afternoon because then the door is opened again – and remains open for one hour: you can go ‘next door’ and ‘visit’ your ‘neighbours’. You have time to empty your waste-basket or ask for further toilet paper…

Prisoners can’t organise anything on their own. So if there is something that needs to be organised or if they have an important request, they have to fill in a special form. – Of course they have to ask for the form first…In our case this hour when the cells are open is usually the only occasion to do that.

Before our doors are locked again after sixty minutes we get herb tea and food for both supper and breakfast next morning. At 10 o’clock in the evening the night begins and the guards switch off the light.

We get a shower three times a week, which offers another chance for small talk because we have to queue up in front of the room where the showers are. (On Saturday and Sundays the structure of the day is a little different from the one during the rest of the week.)

The rather abstract and formal description is superficial of course, but maybe it gives an impression…

It’s hard to say something about social life in here in general. The
‘community’ of the imprisoned women is full of contrasts and contradictions and each one of the inmates may probably experience the social structure her way – depending on her individual situation and point of view.

There is a kind of strong solidarity amongst the women as well as mobbing.
There are tactical alliances as well as real friendship.

Everybody is lonely in some way. Nearly all women hide most of their
feelings – and long for being understood. There is a lot of social pressure to pretend you are strong and to keep emotions for yourself; no one wants to be reminded of her own deep sadness and her own worries (e.g. about her children who are now separated from their mother). But all this does NOT mean staying in distance from one another. The women do give each other a lot of warmth, sympathy, compassion and encouragement. Well, just like outside the prison walls material needs and hierarchy based on different ‘wealth’ is an important factor.

And last but not least everybody longs for any interesting thing, any news or any person that promises to be a splash of colour in the grey of day-to-day life behind bars.


To write to Natalja:

Justizvollzuganstalt München
Natalja Liebich
Am Neudeck 10
81541 München

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