West Germany: Deadbeat Diplomacy

The Iranian minister stood at bay, staring down the muzzle of a gas pistol. The cold-eyed German behind the gun worked quickly and methodically. A spy caught in the act? A would-be assassin? No. All Hermann Reissmeier wanted was to smash a dozen windowpanes and thus "collect" an outstanding debt.

Reissmeier's invasion of the Iranian embassy last week was the latest incident in a private cold war between the citizens of Bonn and the West German capital's deadbeat diplomats. Reissmeier claimed the Iranians owed him $50 for his work in the embassy gardens. The Iranians took refuge in diplomatic immunity,...

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