Questions Raised on “Germany Hotline” (德国热线) about Layoffs at Deutsche Welle

A thread on a German-Chinese website, Germany Hotline (德国热线), is currently discussing an open letter, written by former Deutsche Welle employees Wang Fengbo, Zhu Hong, Li Qi, and Wang Xueding. The thread includes a link to one of this blog’s posts, and one to Neue Rheinische Zeitung – the online paper which originally published the open letter, in April 2011.

A number of questions are raised in the Germany-Hotline thread. As I’m no registered user at Germany Hotline, I’ll try to provide some information about the issue by writing this post.

There is one question raised  in the German Hotline thread which seems to go to the heart of the matter:

The judge said that “Once Deutsche Welle suspects that an employee is a CCP element, no evidence is needed to dismiss him or her.” Where is the original document with that line? (法官还称“只要德国之声怀疑它的员工是共产分子,那么无需证据就可将他们开除”。  这句话的德语原文在哪里?)

I wrote to the court – Landesarbeitsgericht Köln – in March this year and asked for information about the communism statement. The court’s spokesperson replied that – this is how I understand his answer – the records usually only state the decision, and the paragraphs and reasons a judge bases his or her decision on. The records of the court hearing in question – on that day – did not contain the line in question, i. e. the one about dismissals on communism suspicions without evidence.

I can’t tell if the hearing was audio-recorded, or stenographed – and if the spokesperson checked an audio-recording or stenographed record, or just the final version of the record.

That said, an EPD reporter was at the court hearing on that day, and reported that the judge did indeed address the “communist-nazi” issue, saying that once Deutsche Welle, as a public broadcaster (Anstalt des öffentlichen Rechts) suspected an employee of being a communist or a supporter of national socialism (i. e. nazi ideology), this was a sufficient reason to terminate the employment. The EPD report was also picked up by Radio Eins (Radio Berlin-Brandenburg), but I haven’t seen it published anywhere else in Germany. I believe the report is trustworthy, but did not become popular among news people (or their bosses) here in Germany, because it doesn’t make our country look good.

Communism or nazism had not been the issue in Deutsche Welle’s argument in court – it isn’t clear why the judge made this kind of statement. The actual issue was if the terms of employment – a fixed-term employment contract – had been in accordance with the law. However, “communism” had played a role in a political brawl about statements by Zhang Danhong. Her case, however, hadn’t led to a dismissal.

Wang Fengbo told his side of the story in this interview, in January this year. I requested Deutsche Welle’s side of the story last month, but haven’t received an answer to date. There is no public debate about the case in Germany. As far as the former Deutsche Welle’s employees’ open letter, published by the Neue Rheinische Zeitung, is concerned, a member of the Deutsche Welle employee committee was quoted by Evangelischer Pressedienst as saying that some of the letter’s phrasing had been overboard, but that by and large, the events had been described accurately.

A chronological list of my posts about Zhang Danhong – and later Wang Fengbo – can be found here.

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