The American reviewers of Böll's novel Filrsorgliche Belagerung (1979), published in translation under the title The Safety Net (1982), appear to be under the impression that the author intended to make public his views on terrorism in the Federal Republic. Some critics appear to have misinterpreted the novel as a narrative on the destructive effects of terrorism on German society. Careful reading of the work makes it questionable whether such an interpretation is harmonious with Böll's intentions. While the plot deals with aspects of terrorism, the author's main concern is to demonstrate that overreaction to terrorism by police and press are the real disruptive forces rather than the actual activities of the terrorists. Böll furthermore illustrates that the lives of the possible victims of terrorism are adversely affected by excessive security measures and that onerous guard duties have a negative effect on the police themselves. In addition, Böll deals with the role of the sensationalist media in harrassing and victimizing the citizenry. The German word Belagerung is indicative and directly related to the above points. Security forces guard the possible victims and their homes with exaggerated protectiveness which becomes oppressive to the point that the police resemble soldiers laying siege to a city. The possible victims feel as confined as hapless citizens under the siege of a deadly enemy.
Ghurye, Charlotte W.
"Heinrich Böll's Fürsorgliche Belagerung: A Bloodless Novel of Terrorism?,"
University of Dayton Review: Vol. 17:
2, Article 10.
Available at: https://ecommons.udayton.edu/udr/vol17/iss2/10