with Bodo Kaping
Kaping (federal border patrol office, Frankfurt/Oder):
Yes. My name is Bodo Kaping, I am 42 years old and run the
target area operation of the federal border patrol office,
you explain the difference between traffickers, smugglers
and "Fluchthelfer" (a positive term for people who
provide border crossing services)?
Bodo Kaping: For me
there isn't much difference. They are people who capitalize
on the misery of other people. They earn money by violating
laws, by offering help, knowing consciously the fact that
they are irresponsibly putting the lives and health of the
people at stake. And the profit margin sought in the area
of trafficking is comparably as high as in the drug trade;
only here it is about people being brought across the border
through criminal means.
We speak of trafficking, about traffickers
and those who have been trafficked. That is the way we talk.
Smuggler is a term that is constantly used but it has no place
in our way of talking about things.
And in our current use of the language, we don't speak about
"Fluchthelfer". When we look back in history, it
is actually something quite different - the concept has a
POSITIVE CONNOTATION. They were, namely, those who at the
time of the "iron curtain" brought people from the
East to the West.
from the Borders of Grmany
There are, however, a lot of people who help their relatives
make illegal border crossings. So in your language usage they
are also traffickers?
Bodo Kaping: Definitely.
They are committing a crime.
But they are not hostile to human beings - they are bringing
over their own relatives...
Bodo Kaping: It isn't
our job to judge that.
Krenn/Ressler: But you are making judgements. For example,
there is a leaflet from the BGS with the title: "Attention
Traffickers!" and then it says: "your information
helps to catch the perpetrators and put a stop to traffickers
hostile to human beings."
Bodo Kaping: I already
stated it previously. Whoever tries to violate the law in
the Federal Republic of Germany must reckon with being punished.
You have to understand, inhumanity has something to do with
it: human lives are brought into danger. As I said, the rivers,
Oder and Neisse, characterize this border. The Neisse is not
a great obstacle most months of the year, just a trickling
stream, often dry. But there are months in spring, in autumn,
when this stream becomes a larger river, even a dangerous
And those who bring people across at the dead of night act
inhumanely because they bring them into a danger that they
There is, then, for whatever motives, always an aspect somewhere
that brings the life and limb of people in danger. And there
is something hostile to human beings about it.
But with this argument those who helped people escape from
the former German Democratic Republic were equally hostile
to human beings because they also put refugees in danger.
Bodo Kaping: I don't
want to comment on that matter now.
& Martin Kren
Artists based in Vienna, Austria