Jürgen Todenhöfer

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Jürgen Todenhöfer
Jürgen Todenhöfer
Jürgen Todenhöfer
Born (1940-11-12) November 12, 1940 (age 79)
Offenburg, Germany
  • Journalist
  • Politician
  • Executive

Jürgen Todenhöfer (born 12 November 1940) is a German author, journalist, politician, and executive.

Early life and education[edit]

Todenhöfer was born in Offenburg in what is now the current German state of Baden-Württemberg, and studied law at the universities of Munich, Paris, Bonn and Freiburg. He graduated as a doctor of law in 1969 and worked as a judge from 1972 on.


He became a member of the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) in 1970 and was a member of the Bundestag from 13 December 1972 to 20 December 1990 (five election periods) where he represented Tübingen and was affiliated with the pejoratively named "Stahlhelm-Fraktion."[1] He also acted as party spokesman for development policy and arms control. He was vice chairman of the executive board of German media company Hubert Burda Media until 2008.

He is considered to be a pacifist although he pointed out that he is not.[2][3]


He is a Christian.[4]


In 1980 he visited Soviet-occupied Afghanistan and started to raise money for refugees. Todenhöfer is one of the most prominent German critics of the US-led wars against Afghanistan and against Iraq in 2001 and 2003, respectively.

He claims that during the war in Iraq the Bush administration was deceiving the public and that the US war in Iraq has killed several hundred thousand Iraqi civilians. He has visited Iraq several times and did original research for his book Why do you kill, Zaid?[5]

Following the International Criminal Court's arrest warrant against the Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir, he sent an open letter to the Prosecutor General of the ICC, Luis Moreno-Ocampo. He asked for the reasons which led the prosecutor to indict the Sudanese dictator but not the US president George W. Bush or the British prime minister Tony Blair, seeing that neither Sudan nor the US have recognized the International Criminal Court.[6]

In June 2019, he was shot in the back with a rubber bullet by an Israeli sniper in a protest.[7]

First western journalist to visit ISIL[edit]

In the summer of 2014 Todenhӧfer sent a message on Facebook to more than 80 German ISIS soldiers asking whether he could visit the ISIS fighting cadre. His goal was to understand the motivations of ISIS.[8] On September 9, Abu Qatadah, a 31-year-old German and an important person in ISIS media, answered the message. They had Skype discussions for several months. Finally, Todenhӧfer received a document from the Caliphate guaranteeing his safety.[8] In October 2014, Todenhӧfer was the first western journalist to travel to ISIS-controlled territory. He was accompanied by his filmmaker son, Frederic.[9]

Todenhöfer wrote that he stayed with an ISIS soldier who was armed with a Kalashnikov rifle. The soldier told him that he was sure to return home alive because ISIS wanted to be accepted as a state, so he had the guarantee of safety from their leadership. In other words, violation of the guarantee would mean violation of this state. Todenhӧfer spent most of his time in Mosul, Iraq but he could have visited ISIS-controlled cities in Syria such as Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor.[10]

Interview with al Nusra commander[edit]

In 2016 Todenhöfer filmed an interview with an alleged Syrian rebel commander near Aleppo. The commander, said to be with the al-Qaeda affiliated group the Al-Nusra Front (later Jabhat Fateh al-Sham), claimed to have American support and said his group opposed humanitarian aid to civilians. Whether the commander was truly a Nusra fighter was later questioned and the authenticity of the video disputed.[11] Todenhöfer did not respond to questions about his interview.

Major works[edit]

  • Wer weint schon um Abdul und Tanaya? (2003)
  • Andy und Marwa. Zwei Kinder und der Krieg (2005)
  • Warum tötest du, Zaid? (2008) Why do You Kill, Zaid?
  • Why Do You Kill?: The Untold Story of the Iraqi Resistance (2008) ISBN 978-1-934708-14-9
  • Teile Dein Glück (2010)
  • Du sollst nicht töten: Mein Traum vom Frieden (2013)
  • 10 Tage im Islamischen Staat (2015) ISBN 978-3-570-10276-3 Ten Days in the Islamic State



  1. ^ " "Der Spiegel 48/1987". Retrieved 14 April 2017.
  2. ^ Bananenrepublik1 (7 October 2015). "Jürgen Todenhöfer bei Pelzig hält sich 06.10.2015 - Bananenrepublik". Retrieved 14 April 2017 – via YouTube.
  3. ^ (www.dw.com), Deutsche Welle. "Our guest on 22.01.2012 Jürgen Todenhöfer, Politician, Top Executive, and Author - guest list - DW.COM - 15.02.2012". Retrieved 14 April 2017.
  4. ^ UK, Jessica Elgot Jessica Elgot is Assistant News Editor at The Huffington Post (23 December 2014). "This Reporter Made It Out Of Islamic State Alive - With An Extraordinary Story To Tell". Retrieved 14 April 2017.
  5. ^ " "WDR5 interview in "Tischgespräch", broadcast 15 September 2008, 03:03 to 04:00". Retrieved 14 April 2017.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ Jürgen Todenhöfer (11 August 2008). "Open Letter to Luis Moreno Ocampo!". hoa-politicalscene.com.
  7. ^ "In Video| Israeli sniper shoots German journalist in Gaza during peaceful protest". Quds News Network. 2019-06-15. Retrieved 2019-06-19.
  8. ^ a b Shute, Joe. "Our journey into jihad: the father and son who braved the dark heart of Isis". Telegraph. Retrieved 9 April 2016.
  9. ^ "I know Isis fighters. Western bombs falling on Raqqa will fill them with joy Jürgen Todenhöfer". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 November 2015.
  10. ^ Frankman, Ellen; Raphael, T.J. "Meet The Man Who Spent 10 Days With ISIS and Lived to Tell About It". WNYC. Retrieved 7 April 2016.
  11. ^ Christoph Reuter, Momentous Syria Interview Under Fire Der Spiegel 1 October 2016

External links[edit]