Hans A. Nikel invented a completely new type of political journalism—the “pardon campaigns,” which routinely created furors in West Germany
and initiated changes that eventually found their echo in the Bundestag.
The spunky journalist used his celebrity to set an early example for the West German public of just what a lively and vital democracy meant.
He succeeded in mobilizing a mass movement. Nikel was initiator and co-founder of the League of Conscientious Objectors in the Federal Republic of Germany as well as the German Consumer Association—from which later emerged the Consumer Assistance Offices and the leading German consumer safety group Stiftung Warentest. Nikel’s pardon was the first large-scale European magazine to trigger a nationwide discussion of nuclear energy, and as a result of the many pardon campaigns, a “Green” movement began to form. The new social movements co-initiated by Nikel paved the way for citizens’ initiatives and the student movement.
In the 1960s and as early as the 1950s Nikel published a number of provocative books. It was through publication of their works that numerous authors were first discovered by the public and subsequently became famous. After eighteen years Hans A. Nikel brought his publishing career to an end and sold pardon. In the last phase—for now—of his development, Nikel began intensive work as an artist and sculptor and thus found a further language for his concerns—which today seem more relevant than ever.
Devilish Years is the portrait of an individual who left a strong imprint on the critical zeitgeist of the young West German republic. A German democrat of the early years takes stock.
Devilish years – Hans A. Nikel, the Founder of Pardon Magazine
Documentary film, 45 Min., Radio Bremen / ARTE 2008
Supported by: Hessian Film Fund
Producer, director and screenwriter: A. Krug-Metzinger
camera: Bernd Meiners
sound: Jörg Johow
editing: Elke Schloo
music: André Feldhaus
television editor: Thomas von Bötticher, Bremen / ARTE
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