The action that "failed"

During the course of the Vietnam war, the army became more and more unpopular and in the city where I was studying, each year a big military parade was held. In order to make the army popular again, children were allowed to drive in jeeps on the square and fire at each other with blanks - a kind of cowboy and Indian game with machine guns and jeeps. We wanted this and the parade to end. Near the square was a church and our plan was to smuggle a big amplifier with many loudspeakers, operated on car batteries, into the top of the church-tower. I had to design the electronics and the installation would be remote controlled with a transmitter situated in my apartment. While reflecting on the technology to be used (back then, electronics were rather primitive compared to now), I came up with the idea to design a miniature transmitter and hide it in a large electrolytic capacitor, seemingly used in the circuit, so that we could eavesdrop on the police when the installation finally would fall into their hands. This, because it was thought police was corrupt and using illegal practices. The loudspeakers would reproduce the sound of war, with all its horror of screaming and dying victims.

Our budget was very limited and we needed some 1000 watt in loudspeakers. We decided to "borrow" them from a railway station were they could be missed and I traveled throughout the entire country to find out a suitable location. At a night, at three AM, we would strike. Facing us was a huge apartment building and the station was lighted very well... Because of good preparation, all went well; only once we had to jump from the ladders for an approaching train. Nobody from the apartment building noticed us.

Designing and building the entire electronics was a hard job. One day, I was too exhausted to resist taking a nap under the big UV lamp, used for making printed circuits. Instead of 5 minutes, some 4 hours were slept under the lamp and the skin felt very tense. Several hours later the skin was bursting in many places and I had to go to my parents (health insurance wasn't valid at the place of study). When the train arrived, almost all skin had disappeared, it was the look of a napalm victim and the passengers already had left the wagon as they couldn't bear the sight.

Arriving at the home of my parents, they were horrified and we drove to the hospital. The MD said: "As you have no more skin left, we can do nothing as ointment has to be put on a skin. You should have been dead by now" and we could return. From the family MD I got antibiotics, had to drink a lot, having 41 C fever for over a week. I survived and was back at the project after three weeks.

In order to deter the police as long as possible, it was decided to add little teargas bombs of a kind their gas masks wouldn't reject. We were disguised as ordinary workmen, having to repair the tower. Despite the military police and the secret service, we could get into the tower easily. Zealous believers even helped us carrying the various boxes and it was difficult not to laugh; the ones with the car batteries were very heavy. The tower was an incredible mess (pigeon dung) and I had two days to install the gear. Due to the delay caused by my burns, someone had been asked to assist but he wouldn't have passed the mental stability test (we were very aware of the risks; several activists wanted to emigrate after graduation and some of them were married and had children). The new friend was terribly nervous and that caused me to make a fatal error, blowing up the amplifier. He left the tower to get spare parts, more nervous then ever. When the installation was finished, we went home and the next day, I switched the transmitter on. Nothing happened. In panic, the transmitter was made mobile and with a blue glow (from the valves) we were driving near the church. Nothing happened, except a few curious men. Much later, they appeared to be disguised agents.

We went home, my friends went to get drunk with beer but I didn't. The hidden transmitter couldn't be received: it was over. What I didn't know, was that the nervous friend had caused the police to search the tower and that the installation had been brought out of range for the hidden transmitter. When some politically active friends became convinced of my illegal interrogation, they brought out a pamphlet stating the truth and people were so disgusted that the military parade was banned from the city for ever. For me it didn't matter anymore; pleasure and pain had lost their meaning. Because the illegal interrogation couldn't be used in court, the sentence was very mild ($100) as there was no proof of a political action.

My friend was far less lucky; he got the same illegal treatment by the police but he was damaged for life. He is no longer able to function under even the slightest stress, never got a job, never got a relation, unfit for yoga or meditation. Out of revenge the secret service has tapped my phone, read my mail for over 15 years and prevented any good job or emigration (wanted to leave narrow minded Holland).

The cause of to join the action was a hobby to compensate for not being a musician, electronics. In the mid sixties I had designed a very sensitive FM receiver that could get the latest hits from AFN Munich, some 250 miles away which was a record at that time. I relayed that music in the student-apartment block and was rather popular. This caused new friendships and was what got me into the group of anti-war activists. Defeating all security around the event was considered by many as a goal in itself.

The action was both dangerous, adventurous and exiting. Due to circumstances it seemed to have gone wrong and I considered being the cause of that. This is where the conclusion was made that wordly life doesn't give lasting happiness and even "good" actions are failing. Not wanting to be a further nuisance to anyone, the decision to leave life was easy.

The secret police thought otherwise; they took me out of a coma and subjected me to an illegal interrogation, using chemicals to force me to betray all having taken part in the action. I refused and the police commissioner ordered more injections but the MD said more would be lethal. So they showed photos, suggesting my family had been involved in a traffic accident, some were dead and others were dying. I would be brought to the hospital to see them as soon as I told them the names of my friends. Considering having taken leave of them already, the proposal was ridiculous. All of a sudden, despite the chemicals, I saw that the photos were fakes and I had to laugh. Saying why I laughed, the MD told the police commissioner it was impossible for him to do more. The commisioner then asked if I would remember anything after the drugs had worked out and the MD said "no, he won't remember anything". Well, he was wrong: after a while even the details were remembered.

Home /\ Introduction /\ Selected Topics /\ On Kundalini /\ Poetry /\ Pictures