Hardy Kluge, gone but not forgotten

I have been doing some work for Searchlight recently and one of the projects has had me looking at historical material.

I thought a good person to talk to would be Hardy Kluge, an old German friend of Searchlight, who used to organise the German volunteers that worked with Searchlight in lieu of doing military service via the organisation Action Reconciliation Service for Peace (ARSP).

I planned to send him an email tonight. Then, to my great shock, a quick google search found this obituary to Hardy in Der Tagesspiegel here. Hardy died in Berlin at the age of 60 last August. There is also another article written shortly before he died here. They are written in German but google translate gives you a pretty good idea of what the articles say and reveal some very interesting things about the man that I never knew before.

I got to know Hardy pretty well because every 18 months he organised for  young volunteers to come from Germany and work in the Searchlight offices. This went on for many years, and I was their supervisor.

We had to find them accommodation, if they weren’t happy then we had to help them sort whatever their problems were.  They were young people in a foreign country and there were always small things that me and Hardy had to sort between us.

Hardy was an eccentric character who never seemed to have recovered from the 1960s. He had travelled extensively, had lived on a kibbutz in Israel, and never quite settled down. He used to drive a small van, which he regularly slept in, and was rarely seen without a hat of some description.

Whenever I saw him, without exception, he would give me a huge bear hug, then grab me by the shoulders, look me in the eye, and ask me how I have been. He was an unbelievably warm person who was motivated by contempt for Germany’s Nazi past and also the terrible injustices he had witnessed travelling and working in South America.

Indeed, when he had finished working for ARSP in England, he went out to South America and worked in a children’s orphanage, before returning to Germany to live in Berlin and be near his daughter, Rosa.

Hardy was a lifelong activist for whom politics was not something merely for the ballot box and politicians but something to be lived and breathed. We are all a lot poorer for his passing.

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