- Günter Wallraff
name = Günter Wallraff
image_size = 200px
caption = Günter Wallraff at the
Jugendmedientage2006 in Berlin
birth_date = Birth date and age|1942|10|1|mf=y
writer, undercover journalist
Günter Wallraff (born
October 1, 1942in Burscheidnear Cologne) is a famous German writer and undercover journalist.
Wallraff came to prominence thanks to his striking journalistic
researchmethods and several major books on lower class working conditions and tabloid journalism. This style of research is based on what the reporter experiences personally after covertly becoming part of the subgroup under investigation. Wallraff would construct a fictional identity so that he was not recognisable as a journalist. In this way, he created books which denounce what he considers to be social injustices and which try to provide readers with new insights into the way in which society works.
Life and work
Wallraff first took up this kind of
investigative journalismin 1969 when he published "13 unerwünschte Reportagen" ("13 undesired reports") in which he described what he experienced when acting the parts of an alcoholic, a tramp, and a worker in a chemicals factory.
He traveled to Greece in May 1974 at the time of the Ioannides dictatorship. While in
Syntagma Square, he protested against human right violations. He was arrested and tortured by the police, as he did not carry, on purpose, any papers on him that could identify him as a foreigner. After his identity was revealed, Wallraff was convicted and sentenced to 14 months in jail. He was released in August, after the end of the dictatorship. [ [http://www.guenter-wallraff.com/biographie.html Biography of Günther Wallraff] ]
In 1977 Wallraff worked for four months as an editor for the
tabloid" Bild-Zeitung" newspaper in Hanover, calling himself "Hans Esser". In his books " Der Aufmacher" ("Lead Story") and "Zeugen der Anklage" ("Witnesses for the Prosecution") he portrays his experiences on the editorial staff of the paper and the journalism which he encountered there, which at times displayed contempt for humanity. In 1987 the journalist Hermann L. Gremlizaclaimed that he, rather than Wallraff, had written parts of "Der Aufmacher". The book also formed the basis for the English-language film " The Man Inside", starring Jürgen Prochnowas Wallraff.
Ganz unten" ("Lowest of the Low") (1985) documented Wallraff's posing as a Turkish guest worker, and the mistreatment he received in that role at the hands of employers, landlords and the German government.
Wallraff has been heavily criticised by those on the receiving end of his style of investigation, as they consider he breached constitutional
rightsto privacy or revealed trade secrets. Attempts were therefore made on a number of occasions to legally prevent Wallraff's investigative methods, but his actions were regularly ruled as constitutional by the courts. The courts opined that freedom of the pressand public interestin areas concerned with the formation of public opinion favoured Wallraff's actions. In balancing public interest with the competing interests of those immediately affected by his actions it follows however that private conversations, for example, may not be published.
Wallraff has been publicly accused of several cases of plagiarism and falsifications, especially concerning his books "Lead Story" and "Lowest of the Low". (German TV "Das Erste", Report München, 3.12.1985 and Report Baden Baden, 11.3.1986)
Wallraff was one of the first people in Germany to invoke his constitutional right not to do armed military service. Despite this refusal, Wallraff was obliged to serve time in the
In January 2003,
Russiaturned away Wallraff and two other Germans, the former labour minister for the CDU Norbert Blümand Rupert Neudeck, head of the relief organisation Cap Anamur, as they tried to enter the country to work on a human rightsarticle about Chechnya.
In September 2003, investigations were made by the BStU (the federal commission set up to deal with the files of the
Stasi) into the Rosenholz fileson Stasiworkers which somehow got into the hands of the CIA; as a result, it was claimed that Wallraff had had connections to the Stasi in the 1960s. Wallraff disputes that he ever actively worked for them. On December 17 2004, the Hamburgdistrict court ruled on a suit brought by Wallraff that he must not be described as an "Inoffizieller Mitarbeiter" or Stasi collaborator (he was being called this above all in newspapers belonging to the Axel Springer Verlag - the publishers of "Bild-Zeitung") as no proof of collaboration could be furnished in the documents which had been presented.
In May 2007, Wallraff announced that he had started yet another undercover journalist work, this time at a German
call centre.cite news | title = Günter Wallraff ist zurück | language = German | publisher = Die Zeit| date = May 25, 2007| url = http://www.zeit.de/2007/22/Guenter-Wallraff?page=all | accessdate = 2007-06-27]
His investigative methods have led to the creation of the Swedish
verb'wallraffa' meaning "to expose misconduct from the inside by assuming a role" which has been officially included in word list of the Swedish Academy.cite news | last = Rooseboom | first = Sanne | title = Wallraffen als werkwoord | pages = 2 | language = Dutch | publisher = Dagblad De Pers | date = February 26, 2007| url = http://depers.coolcreations.nl/papers/33.pdf | accessdate = 2007-02-27] cite news | last = Kittler | first = Dennis | title = Sprachliches Denkmal für Günter Wallraff | language = German | publisher = LEO | date = May 16, 2006| url = http://www.tu-chemnitz.de/phil/leo/rahmen.php?seite=r_kult/kittler_wallraffa.php | accessdate = 2007-02-27]
*Some of the material in this article is translated from the corresponding article from the German Wikipedia, retrieved
April 10 2005.
* [http://www.guenter-wallraff.com Official homepage] de icon
* [http://www.klinikum-lahr.de/maz/2001juni/wallraff.htm Interview with Günther Wallraff] de icon
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