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The following sentence was said by RAF member Gudrun Ensslin (1968):

Ich hab den Richtern gesagt, 'ich weiß, warum sie sagen, man kann nichts tun, weil sie nichts tun können wollen, aber ich will etwas getan haben dagegen'.

(For more context, see this page; the text I've quoted appears in the fifth paragraph.)


I'm surprised/puzzled by the fact that the sentence does not end with the verb (haben), and instead ends with dagegen.

Compounding my confusion is an uncertainty over what the da in dagegen (if I may parse it this way) is referring to. I can think of two very different possibilities:

  1. da = what "they" (sie) had said about not being able to act (i.e. Ensslin is contrasting her position/attitude towards the possibility of action against "theirs"); or
  2. da = whatever world condition/situation compelled Ensslin to take action.

Would it be ungrammatical to say

  1. "aber ich will dagegen etwas getan haben"?
  2. "aber ich will etwas dagegen getan haben"? Or

(I've keyed the last two options to correspond to the two alternative interpretations I gave just before.)

  • both "aber ich will etwas getan haben dagegen" and "aber ich will etwas dagegen getan haben" would be correct, and commonly used – Tommylee2k Oct 19 '17 at 13:32
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I think dagegen refers to what is written at the beginning of the Paragraph: "Womit ich mich niemals abfinden werde, ist dass sich die Tendenz, in der sich die spätkapitalistische Gesellschaft so ungeheuer deutlich fortbewegt, nämlich hin zum Faschismus."

The two alternative word orders you propose are correct, and are actually more common.

Putting dagegen at the end of the sentence is an example of what in German is commonly called ausklammern - placing a part of the sentence outside the sentence bracket. It is sometimes used as a means to put some emphasis on a part of sentence, especially in colloquial German. It also makes sentence bracket shorter. This alleviates the typical problem with German sentences that having one part of the verb at the beginning of the sentence and one at the end puts some strain on one's short-term memory.

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    I've edited the answer to answer your first question. – RHa Oct 19 '17 at 7:52
  • Thank you again. It bums me out a bit that the antecedent you quoted turns out to be even harder for me to parse than the passage I asked about, but that's a matter for a separate question. – kjo Oct 19 '17 at 11:21
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    That sentence at the beginning at the paragraph doesn't look very grammatical. I think the "dass sich" should be omitted. But it's probably a transcript of what she actually said before the court. – RHa Oct 19 '17 at 11:30
  • Ah, thank you! I was racking my brains over precisely that "dass sich"! – kjo Oct 19 '17 at 11:33
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Both of your suggestions would be more widely used than the actual quote, it's most likely a local dialect or something similar.

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  • Nope, not dialect. – Stephie Oct 18 '17 at 15:30

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