200px-RAF-Logo.svg.png200px-RAF-Logo.svg.png

The Red Army Faction

Reiji Honour, Johannes Hallermeier
Assessment Task: Term 2




[annotation: The five-pointed star with an heckler-koch MP5

- the RAF's signature in nearly 30 years of bloody terrorism in the BRD]

[Accessed 21, May 2009] Available From <http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4d/RAF-Logo.svg>]



"Zwischen uns und dem Feind einen klaren Trennungsstrich ziehen!"
"Differentiate us explicitly from the enemy!"

"Den bewaffneten Kampf unterstuetzen!"
"Support the armed fight!"
"Sieg im Volkskrieg!"
"Let us gain the victory in the public war!"


Our Video of the Red Army Faction




[1] Youtube; MarkyMarkDCU (2008). The Red Army Faction Part 1/7. [Internet/Video].
Available From < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqhKhszwA9o>
[2] Youtube;
MarkyMarkDCU (2008). The Red Army Faction Part 2/7. [Internet/Video].
Available From < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58XMw4uga2g>
[3] Youtube;
MarkyMarkDCU (2008). The Red Army Faction Part 3/7. [Internet/Video].
Available From < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpmisw5nLso>
[4] Youtube;
MarkyMarkDCU (2008). The Red Army Faction Part 4/7. [Internet/Video].
Available From < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4jxrFeb_gk>
[5] Youtube;
MarkyMarkDCU (2008). The Red Army Faction Part 5/7. [Internet/Video].
Available From < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5H3fXHH8lMc>
[6] Youtube;
MarkyMarkDCU (2008). The Red Army Faction Part 6/7. [Internet/Video].
Available From < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GmIfnN0LKVM>
[7] Youtube;
MarkyMarkDCU (2008). The Red Army Faction Part 7/7. [Internet/Video].
Available From < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p56S_-nu3e4>
[8] Youtube;
Moviemarketing (2008). Der Baader Meinhof Komplex. [Internet/Video].
Avaiable From < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WAyCi4cObmI>




The RAF – a terrorist group?


The Red Army Faction is commonly introduced as “post-war West Germany’s most violent and prominent militant left-wing anti-capitalist group”[1]. The group can be seen as a terrorist organization, which utilized “the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims”[2]. This point of view is also supported by United Nations’ recommended definitions of terrorism both from 1937, valid for the whole period of RAF’s operation from 1968 to 1998, describing terrorism as “criminal acts directed against a state and intended or calculated to create a state of terror in the minds of particular persons or a group of persons or the general public”[3], and from 2005, characterizing terrorism as “criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes are in any circumstance unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or any other nature that may be invoked to justify them.”[4]
Since it is extensively futile to characterize the RAF as well as terrorism basically by following solely moral judgments, the previous estimation is based on two numbers and one statement:
Accepting numerous deaths of innocents in order to reach goals set up by a minority, 34 people were killed in the course of RAF operations. [5]
Regarding themselves as an avant-garde of a worldwide riot against imperialism and capitalism, the RAF members frightened a whole nation for 28 years. [6]
After having specified their tactic as only turning against exponents and officials of the counterrevolutionary system of exploitation for about three years[7], RAF’s first generation legitimated the straight attack on civilians during Munich Massacre 1972 as a “revolutionary strategy of anti-imperialistic warfare in the Third World and in metropolises following the conditions of international trusts’ unfurled imperialism.” [8]
The RAF contrasted the allegation of being terrorists commonly with their own estimation as being urban guerillas. Different to the terrorist, a guerilla uses violence only against governmental or particularly opponent forces and institutions. Since the crucial point of accepting innocents’ deaths is fulfilled in order to reach the political or psychological aims, this extenuation can be rejected and the RAF estimated to be a terrorist group, however.


[[#_ftnref1|[1]][1] Red Army Faction [Internet]. Poole: Wikipedia.org. [Accessed 13 May, 2009]
[[#_ftnref2|[2]][2] Terrorism. Dictionary Apple Inc. – Version 2.0.2. [Accessed 13 May, 2009]
[[#_ftnref3|[3]][3] Definition of terrorism. 2.1. United Nations. [Internet]. Poole: Wikipedia.org. [Accessed 13 May, 2009]
[[#_ftnref4|[4]][4] ibid.
[[#_ftnref5|[5]][5] Die Opfer der RAF. [Internet]. Poole: bpb.de – Die Geschichte der RAF. [Accessed 13 May, 2009]
[[#_ftnref6|[6]][6] Kraushaar, Wolfgang: Das Ende der RAF. [Internet]. Poole: bpb.de – Die Geschichte der RAF. [Accessed 13 May, 2009]
[[#_ftnref7|[7]][7] RAF (Nov. 1972): “About the strategy of anti-imperialistic warfare”. As quoted in: Daase, Christopher: Die erste Generation der RAF (1970-1975). [Internet]. Poole: bpb.de – Die Geschichte der RAF. [Accessed 13 May, 2009]
[[#_ftnref8|[8]][8]
Paragraph: Daase, Christopher: Die erste Generation der RAF (1970-1975). [Internet]. Poole: bpb.de – Die Geschichte der RAF. [Accessed 13 May, 2009]
Quote: RAF (Nov. 1972): “About the strategy of anti-imperialistic warfare”. As quoted in: Daase, Christopher: Die erste Generation der RAF (1970-1975). [Internet]. Poole: bpb.de – Die Geschichte der RAF. [Accessed 13 May, 2009]


Historical context of the RAF’s form ation and original ideas in 1970

Describing the original ideas of RAF’s foundation it is necessary to have a look on the social as well as the political circumstances. Referring to the opinion of Prof. Dr. Gerd Langguths, a reputable author and historian teaching political sciences at the Bonn University, the talk is about one cultural and one political upheaval.[1] The social upheaval went ahead some years before the political upheaval: the 60s are commonly regarded as the changing years concerning music and lifestyle as an effect of “the Beatles revolution” and the sexual revolution.[2]
The youth’s subsequent increasing dissatisfaction with Germany’s and international policies has its origin in the years 1965 and 1966: Being gravely affected by the Cold War’s east-west conflict the German society became more and more politically polarized. On the one hand West Berlin was fully dependent of the western protector US, on the other hand great many people and particularly students could not longer hide their disagreement with western operations, mainly referring to the military disaster of Vietnam. They also blamed the US to oppress colonial liberation movements, what finally led to a Marxist reception of the students’ movement. In this context the parental generation was accused of having only had focused on the economic redevelopment but not having had reflected the social characteristics, that had made the Third Reich once possible. Furthermore the German democracy seemed to be endangered, as the opposition was parliamentary represented with only 10% during “grand coalition” from 1966 to 1969, a coalition of the two main political parties.[3]
That coalition’s “German Emergency Acts” finally provoked the main protests in 1968: The inclusion of emergency laws in the German Basic Law was one condition imposed by the Allies before they would transfer full sovereignty to the Federal Republic of Germany after the Second World War. This was in order to ensure the safety of their troops still stationed in Germany. Because of the negative experience of the Weimar constitution, article 48, an emergency law, which mainly led to Hitler’s takeover in 1933, a fierce opposition grew up, mainly consisting of the Free Democratic Party (FDP) and the socialistic German student movement (SDS).[4]
Altogether the educated youth was directly confronted with political issues – big parts chose the left oriented political camps, others tried to face the lack of political representation in the grand coalition by founding the APO [Ausserparlamentarische Opposition; engl: extra-parliamentary opposition]. [5]Ancillary to the already mentioned rejection of national and basically western policies the youth mainly criticized the parental repression of the Nazi crimes. This parental generation had been trying to find back into their normal lives after zero hour in 1945.[6]
Accepting the theory of RAF founding members’ ideas being / having been (?!?) initially embedded in the utopias of the SDS, it is worth to have a look on their partly enormously idealistic plans and estimations. For example, SDS head Rudi Dutschke once stated in an interview: “Without a doubt, the biblical garden Eden is the most fantastic of all human dreams. But the chance to obtain hasn’t ever been so obvious and realistic as today!”[7] He strove establishing the process of an “organized refusal revolution” with the aim of motivating the not manipulated and intellectual freed marginal groups like students to fight against oppression and exploitation in place of the widely controlled working class.[8]
Commemorating its responsibility for the Nazi crimes in a dictatorship, the German society felt unconfident about opposing the liberal demands. In contrast, the young academics’ radicalization accelerated: The unintended killing police shot at German student Benno Ohnesorg marked the beginning of violent conflicts. Popular critics called the upcoming behaviour “left facism” and “rhetoric of violence”[9].
Meantime having been recognized as extremely important for the revolutionists’ self-manifestation on the one hand, but also occasionally extreme dangerous when taking a firm stand against the riots, media companies were harshly controlled by the revolutionists. The chief danger was located in the publishing house “Springer”. Due to the distribution of populist articles, that described for example Rudi Dutschke as a public enemy, campaigns like “expropriate Springer!” were mounted. The increasing level of violence on both sides finally led to arson attacks against department stores, demonstrations turning into street battles and deaths of police officers, journalists and students.[10]
Once the emergency acts were parliamentary passed in 1986, the student movement lost its identity-forming concept of the enemy. Having followed a wide variety of left political visions, they could no longer agree on a certain “party line” – some preferred the integration and improvement of the existing political system, others chose urban guerilla tactics and terrorism.[11]
Rudi Dutschke firstly announced the idea of “urban guerilla tactics” in September 1967. Referring to Che Guevara and Carl Schmitt, he intended to support and amend Third World’s “rural guerilla” by metropolitan “urban guerilla”. Different from activists like Dieter Kunzelmann, 1969 founding member of the first German underground activity group "Tupamaros West-Berlin", Dutschke stuck to theoretical intentions, though. Few days past the hostage of Hanns-Martin Schleyer, president of the Employer’s Union, by the RAF, Dutschke writes in the German newspaper Die Zeit: “When desperate or instructed desperados are writing: ‘We need to create many revolutionary groups! We need many Bubacks![12]’, the socialist can only answer: That is the ultimate destruction of critical-materialistic rationalism!”[13] Once he even stated: “Those individual terrorists […] do not think of social emancipation, not of the liberation of a country. They want to kill.”[14] Dutschke obviously suffered from the 70’s difficulty to be socialist without being a terrorist. Nevertheless the armed resistance was definitely not a peripheral excrescence, but a development growing from the midmost student movement’s ideas.

Picture_1.png Hanns-Martin Schleyer Hostage "R.A.F's Prisoner For 20 Days" [15]


But for all that there is still the unanswered question left, how students taking part in amicable demonstration could suddenly turn into terrorists:
Hans-Joachim Klein, former German terrorist in the Revolutionary Cells (German: Revolutionaere Zellen; abbr. RZ)[16], explained the development as frustration and resignation linked with a lack of prospects. He talks about the “fear to relapse in the old civic wallow or to lose, possibly voluntary, all political position. We were afraid of turning back to everything we got painfully rid of over several years.”[17]
Also Horst Mahler[18] described terrorism as “the answer to an oppressing, hostile environment we can not control any longer; an environment that breaks our necks.”[19]
Referring to those statements it seems problematic to find firm political ideas among the terrorists; much more we have to expect a weak basis of ideology abetting terrorist activity! Probably we have to assess the foundation of terrorist groups indeed as a last try to stop the imminent APO’s collapse at the end of the 60s by increasing the level of militancy. In fact the RAF’s ideology seems to be more a justification of an already established practice than an antedating motivation. Its identity had taken shape more through the collective prosecution than through common political beliefs.[20]
The ideology’s main aspects were the conversion of anti-western ideas, evoked by the Vietnam War, into a philosophically enhanced vision of worldwide solidarity against injustice and imperialistic oppression. The political issues were extremely simplified, so that the German activists could regard themselves as advance guards of Third World’s guerilla troops:[21] “We won’t be able to preserve the world from the imperialism’s yoke without revitalizing the revolution in the western world.”[22]
The following sentences give a short overview of the RAF’s main ideas stated in the “concept urban guerilla” 1971:
“The concept ‘urban guerilla’ describes a revolutionary intervention of mainly weak revolutionary powers. There will not be revolutionists leading a whole society in a revolutionary battle – accepting the officials’ negotiation of the parliamentary democracy as a fact, we will set up an underground movement beyond police’s influence. Urban guerilla stands for armed resistance – an answer to the police’s killing shots. […] It is our aim to destroy the myth of an untouchable government by acting destructive in many different positions without doubt and fear […]: ‘It is a revolutionist’s duty to fight at every time, fighting under all circumstances, fighting to the death.’ (Blanqui)”[23]


[[#_ftnref1|[1]][1] Langguth, Gerd: Die 68er-Bewegung. Interview mit Prof. Gerd Langguth. [Internet]. Poole: bpb.de – Die Geschichte der RAF. [Accessed 19 May, 2009]
[[#_ftnref2|[2]][2] ibid.
[[#_ftnref3|[3]][3] ibid.
[[#_ftnref4|[4]][4] German Emergency Acts. [Internet]. Poole: Wikipedia.org. [Accessed 15 May, 2009]
[[#_ftnref5|[5]][5] Langguth, Gerd: Die 68er-Bewegung. Interview mit Prof. Gerd Langguth. [Internet]. Poole: bpb.de – Die Geschichte der RAF. [Accessed 19 May, 2009]
[[#_ftnref6|[6]][6] Borowsky, Peter: Ausserparlamentarische Opposition und Studentenbewegung. [Internet]. Poole: bpb.de – Die Geschichte der RAF. [Accessed 19 May, 2009]
[[#_ftnref7|[7]][7] Dutschke, Rudi; in: Langguth, Gerd: Die 68er-Bewegung. Interview mit Prof. Gerd Langguth. [Internet]. Poole: bpb.de – Die Geschichte der RAF. [Accessed 19 May, 2009]
[[#_ftnref8|[8]][8] Langguth, Gerd: Die 68er-Bewegung. Interview mit Prof. Gerd Langguth. [Internet]. Poole: bpb.de – Die Geschichte der RAF. [Accessed 19 May, 2009]
[[#_ftnref9|[9]][9] Both: Habermas, Juergen; in: Langguth, Gerd: Die 68er-Bewegung. Interview mit Prof. Gerd Langguth. [Internet]. Poole: bpb.de – Die Geschichte der RAF. [Accessed 19 May, 2009]
[[#_ftnref10|[10]][10] Borowsky, Peter: Ausserparlamentarische Opposition und Studentenbewegung. [Internet]. Poole: bpb.de – Die Geschichte der RAF. [Accessed 20 May, 2009]
[[#_ftnref11|[11]][11] Langguth, Gerd: Die 68er-Bewegung. Interview mit Prof. Gerd Langguth. [Internet]. Poole: bpb.de – Die Geschichte der RAF. [Accessed 19 May, 2009]
[[#_ftnref12|[12]][12] Siegfried Buback was assassinated in his capacity as Procurator General in 1977. Though the shooters are still unknown, the RAF admitted to the assassination. Source: Siegfried Buback. [Internet]. Poole: Wikipedia.org. [Accessed 20 May, 2009]
[[#_ftnref13|[13]][13] Dutschke, Rudi.
Quoted in: Kraushaar, Wolfgang: Rudi Dutschke und der bewaffnete Kampf. [Internet]. Poole: bpb.de – Die Geschichte der RAF. [Accessed 20 May, 2009]
[[#_ftnref14|[14]][14] Dutschke, Rudi.
Quoted in: Kraushaar, Wolfgang: Rudi Dutschke und der bewaffnete Kampf. [Internet]. Poole: bpb.de – Die Geschichte der RAF. [Accessed 20 May, 2009]
[15] Hanns-Martin Schleyer [Image] Available from <http://cache.daylife.com/imageserve/0beQ6G49Q50l1/340x.jpg>
[[#_ftnref15|[15]][16] Revolutionary Cells (RZ). [Internet]. Poole: Wikipedia.org. [Accessed 20 May, 2009]
[[#_ftnref16|[16]][17] Klein, Hans-Joachim.
Quoted in: Muenker, Herfried: Warum aus jungen Menschen Terroristen wurden. [Internet]. Poole: bpb.de – Die Geschichte der RAF. [Accessed 20 May, 2009]
[[#_ftnref17|[17]][18] Horst Mahler is a German lawyer and advocate of racial ideologies. He began as extreme-left militant – having been a founder of the Red Army Faction. Subsequently he shifted to the extreme-right, and is now a member of the National Democratic Party of Germany. Source: Horst Mahler. [Internet]. Poole: Wikipedia.org. [Accessed 20 May, 2009]
[[#_ftnref18|[18]][19] Mahler, Horst.
Quoted in: Muenker, Herfried: Warum aus jungen Menschen Terroristen wurden. [Internet]. Poole: bpb.de – Die Geschichte der RAF. [Accessed 20 May, 2009]
[[#_ftnref19|[19]][20] Muenker, Herfried: Warum aus jungen Menschen Terroristen wurden. [Internet]. Poole: bpb.de – Die Geschichte der RAF. [Accessed 20 May, 2009]
[[#_ftnref20|[20]][21] Cattani, Alfred: Anfaenge und Wachsen des deutschen Terrorismus 1986-70. Neue Zuercher Zeitung, 30 September 1978. [Accessed via Internet]. http://bme10a.arrocho.ch/downloads/rotearmeefraktionraf.pdf [Accessed 20 May, 2009].
[[#_ftnref21|[21]][22] RAF (April 1971): Das Konzept Stadtguerilla.
[[#_ftnref22|[22]][23] RAF (April 1971): Das Konzept Stadtguerilla. [Accessed via Internet]. http://www.nadir.org/nadir/archiv/PolitischeStroemungen/Stadtguerilla+RAF/RAF/raf-texte+materialien.PDF [Accessed 20 May, 2009]



Motives for armed resistance and criticism on the political system of the BRD

Referring to the already mentioned circumstances we can describe the criticism of the German constitution more as dissatisfaction than as crucial contact points. That also corresponds with the Il Manifesto’s, a left oriented political group in Italy, estimation of the German situation.
Viewing the RAF as an descendent of the SDS, we can use a statement of Rudi Dutschke: “I consider the parliamentary system as useless.”[1
] He even described the political system of the BRD as “the opened façade of an autocratic system.”[2]
The RAF faces this lack of ideological depth with an honest paragraph in their first publication “concept urban guerilla” in 1971:
“Of course the students movement was overdrawing the seriousness of the German situation: It is extremely simplified to compare the distribution of our dumb newspaper “BILD” with the Vietnam War, as well as it is selfish to link criticism on the system with armed war. […] Anyway, it is our merit to have recollected Marxism-Leninism at least as a political theory – with street battles, arson attacks and counter-violence.”[3
]
That shows us the importance of public attention as well as the mendacity to insist on the terms counter-violence and urban guerilla tactics. Violence was considered as justifiable resistance against a discretionary government.
Referring to the analysis of the RAF as a terrorist group, we can uncover the RAF’s ideology as quite unstable.


[[#_ftnref1|[1]][1] Dutschke, Rudi. Quoted in: Langguth, Gerd: Die 68er-Bewegung. Interview mit Prof. Gerd Langguth. [Internet]. Poole: bpb.de – Die Geschichte der RAF. [Accessed 19 May, 2009]
[[#_ftnref2|[2]][2] ibid.
[[#_ftnref3|[3]][3] RAF (April 1971): Das Konzept Stadtguerilla.



Climax of RAF’s activity in the “German autumn” – governmental reaction

A student’s death

While big parts of Germany’s intellectual youth was set up against outmoded structures, international violence and capitalism commonly, the violent death of a 26 years old student led to national disturbances. The student was shot by a police officer in the course of demonstrations against the BRD’s invitation to an autocratic leader, the Shah of Persia. This incident led to radicalization among the students and is regarded as the RAF’s unofficial hour of birth due to the upcoming ideas of counter-violence.

Arson attacks

Andreas Baader and Gudrun Ensslin acted out first arson attacks on department stores. They tended to raise a feeling of Vietnam – burning bodies in European metropolises. Having been arrested only two days later, both of them decided to go underground after a long lasting governmental argument.

German media and the attack on a students’ leader

Agitating roughly against the socialist ideas of the German students’ movement SDS, the media got a crucial aim of demonstrations and attacks. Corresponding to the air of political tension, SDS leader Rudi Dutschke is shot by a deranged man, who was obviously influenced by one-sided news coverage. The following demonstrations against publishing house Springer led to massive material damage, caused molotove cocktails among others.

RAF’s official hour of birth

Being arrested again Andreas Baader got in contact with Ulrike Meinhof, a left oriented journalist. They pretended to work on a book together – Andreas Baader could be freed at the first scientific meeting in a public library. This incident is regarded as the RAF’s official hour of birth, because Baader and Meinhof acted together for the first time. Subsequently, the RAF’s hard core attended a terrorist education camp of Palestine’s El Fatah.

The RAF 1970/71 – different small incidents and a theoretic statement

In the years 1970 and 1971 the main aspect of the “Baader-Meinhof-gang’s” activity was laid on armament and “fundraising” through robberies. Though those offences were comparable small, a public hysteria was rising. Ulrike Meinhof composes the manifest “urban guerilla concept”, which uses the emblem, a five-pointed star with a Heckler&Koch MP5, and the term “Red Army Faction” for the first time.

Ulrike Meinhof, 1975:
“The RAF’s formation’s character was of spantenous character. It seemed to be the only way to truly fulfill our revolutionary orders. […] The propagation of the armed fight seemed to be necessary to face the students’ movement’s crumbling basis and emphasis. They were not too blinded too see the small chances to stand the long way to our aims, they were not too blinded to face the threat of being shot or arrested. […] Our aim was to save the political awareness, which increased in 1967 and 1968, to keep the fight going." [1]

First deaths

While trying to arrest members of the RAF, several police officers got killed from 1971 on. In mai 1972 the RAF started first attacks on American aims due to the still lasting Vietnam War. Furthermore different arson and bomb attacks take place. One of the, a bomb attack on the Axel Springer publishing house, led to 17 injured innocents, because the building was not evacuated despite a warning. This led to a statement, in which the RAF once again denounces the inhumanity of capitalism; the publishing house would have taken the risk to injure people simply not to stop production and therefore to avoid financial penalties. The statement’s authors denoted them as being shocked.
After several grave attacks the government started the biggest manhunt in its history. Even though this measure was widely without success, several smaller actions led to the imprisonment of the RAF’s hard core.


october_1977_-_German_autumn,_DER_SPIEGEL.jpgGerman Newspaper October, 1977[2]


Imprisonment and process – The “German Autumn”

The imprisonment of the RAF’s leading members is still discussed concerning the conditions of detention. They were all imprisoned in the high-security prison Stammheim. As much as some people describe the conditions of detention as privileged treatment, mainly the periods of hunger strike remained unexplained. Finally one of the participating terrorists died. This news caused new demonstrations all over Germany. Successors demanded to free some of the imprisoned RAF leaders with a hostage – the government accepted, as far as no one of the life-sentenced prisoners would be released. Never again the German government negotiated with terrorists in a similar way. On 25 April 1975 chancellor Helmut Schmidt stood firm against the demands of RAF terrorists garrisoning the German embassy in Stockholm, Sweden: 26 of the most important RAF prisoners, including the hard core, should be released. After having killed two hostages, the terrorists blow up themselves unintentionally.
The process took place from may 21 1975 to 28 April 1977. Possibly the most tense and controversial German criminal trial ever, the Bundestag had earlier changed the Code of Criminal Procedure so that several of the attorneys who were accused of serving as links between the inmates and the RAF's second generation could be excluded. In may 1976 Ulrike Meinhof was found dead in her cell. An investigation concluded that she had hanged herself, a result hotly contested at the time. Different theories tell that the prison administration would have been fully aware of smuggled weapons or that Ulrike Meinhof was killed. During the trial, more attacks took place. One of these was on 7 April 1977, when Federal Prosecutor Siegfried Buback, his driver, and his bodyguard were shot and killed by two RAF members while waiting at a red traffic light.
Being absent a big part of the process, the three remaining defendants were convicted of several murders, more attempted murders, and of forming a terrorist organization; they were sentenced to life imprisonment.
To increase the pressure on the government to release the imprisoned terrorists, the second generation of the RAF (mainly the terrorists after 1973 are called the second generation) kidnapped Hanns-Martin Schleyer, President of the Employer's Union. The German government tried to expand time, so that the terrorists had to travel through Europe with their hostage. The hostage was linked with the hijacked airplane “Landshut” on 13 October 1977: After an odyssey through Arab, that should raise international awareness of the Palestine’s oppression, German GSG9 entered the plane, killed all but one terrorists and injured the forth one. The operation was completed in 7 minutes. Finally, due to the lack of governmental cooperation concerning the hostage and the hijacking, Hanns-Martin Schleyer was executed – the government refused to negotiate with terrorists again.
A very interesting fact is, that the terrorists of the first generation, the imprisoned heads of the RAF, obviously disliked the increased level of violence as well as the internationalized terrorism. The idea of urban guerilla tactics was given away in favor of terrorist behaviour.

The RAF in 1980 – 1990

The years 1980-1990 were dominated by violent attacks on public persons, institutions, but also public attacks. The attitude obviously changed – some even have doubts, whether all the attacks were initiated in RAF-structures.
After German Unification in 1990, it was confirmed that the RAF had received financial and logistic support from the Stasi, the security and intelligence organization of East Germany, which had given several members shelter and new identities. This was already generally suspected at the time.
In 1992 the German government assessed that the RAF's main field of engagement now was missions to release former RAF-members. To weaken the organization further the government declared that some RAF inmates would be released if the RAF refrained from violent attacks in the future. Subsequently the RAF announced their intention to "de-escalate" and refrain from significant activity.
The last action taken by the RAF took place in 1993 with a bombing of a newly built prison in Weiterstadt by overcoming the officers on duty and planting explosives. Although no one was seriously injured this operation caused property damage amounting to 123 million German Marks (over 50 million euros).
The last big action against the RAF took place on 27 June 1993. A Verfassungsschutz (internal secret service) agent named Klaus Steinmetz had infiltrated the RAF. As a result Birgit Hogefeld and Wolfgang Grams were to be arrested in Bad Kleinen. Grams and GSG9 officer Michael Newrzella died during the mission. While it was initially concluded that Grams committed suicide, others claimed his death was in revenge for Newrzella's. Two eyewitness accounts supported the claims of an execution-style murder. However, an investigation headed by the Attorney General failed to substantiate such claims. Due to a number of operational mistakes involving the various police services, German Minister of the Interior Rudolf Seiters took responsibility and resigned from his post. [2]


[1]Meinhof, Ulrike. Quoted in: Die Geschichte der RAF – die RAF entsteht. [Internet] http://www.rafinfo.de/hist/print.php [Accessed on May 25, 2009].
[2] German Newspaper "Der Spiegel" - 17 October 1977; Source: Spiegel-Verlag / Haus der Geschichte. Quoted in: Die Geschichte der RAF. Die zweite Generation der RAF (1975-1981). [Internet] Poole: bpb.de [Accessed 26 May 2009]
[3]Die Geschichte der RAF - Infos zur Roten Armee Fraktion. [Internet]
http://www.rafinfo.de/hist/print.php [Accessed on May 25, 2009].

How could the RAF play such an important role at the Munich Massacre in 1972? What was cause and effect of the connection to Palestine terrorist groups as well as the support by East Germany?

There were huge speculations surrounding the Munich Massacre that the RAF contributed by supporting the militant group Yasser Arafat’s Fatah organization. During the Munich Games in 1972, the militant group entered the Olympic Village and was intent on having hostages to meet their demands. The militant group was originally founded in Palestine and during the time, Palestine and Israel had fearful conflicts which all relate to the Munich Massacre. So when the capturing of the Israeli Olympic team occurred, there was many demands ordered through the German Police, mostly surrounding the Palestinian Prisoners of which Israeli’s held but during these demands, there was also an unusual prospect brought upon the militant group. They demanded to the German police for the release of the two founders of the RAF, Andreas Baader, and Ulrike Meinhof from the German penitentiary System. [1]

Baader1.jpg intro_raf_meinhof_g.jpg
Andreas Baader (1943-1977) [2]
Ulrike Meinhof (1934-1976)[3]

These demands were very suspicious to the world and most notable, Germany as connections were beginning to be recognised through the whole event. Also noted, a RAF Leader, Horst Mahler, published a document during his time in prison expressing his support towards the Munich Massacre. Within this document, events associated with Palestine militant groups like, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, was very common, for example with the attempt blow up of the El Al plane over Nairobi in 1975, and the explosion of the bomb in a passenger’s luggage at Lod Airport, 1976. All this connections have made the RAF contributing with a big role. Most notably, the Munich Massacre.[4]

Behind all this, the practicing and training of the RAF members were located in the depths of Palestine for safety and security from the German Police. With all these connections between the two groups, it could be said that they supported each other in all areas of their demands. The RAF helping the militant groups with information within Germany, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine provided training facilities.[5]



How does the German society deal with its history after RAF officially closed in 1998?

Originally, the RAF disbanded in 1998 after going through hardship from 1989 till the collapse of the RAF. The finish of the Terrorist group was said to be due to the pointless effort and collapse of East Germany in 1989. It was discovered during this time that the Stasi, the secret police of the former communist regime had been giving training, shelter, and supplies. Due to the collapse of East Germany, the secret police diminished, resulting in the RAF without support causing the break up of the Terrorist group. Near the end of their campaign, it was becoming clear that a lot of their actions within Germany were becoming pointless as nothing but killings were occurring. Due to a lot of the murderers being committed by the RAF, a lot of the members of the terrorist group were trailed and jailed, leaving very few left to pursue in its goal.[6]

The fall of the RAF is still very evident today as recently, the release of Christian Klar just demonstrates on how long the trials can go for. Klar had become the leading member of the secondary generation of the RAF during the 1970’s and the 1980’s. He was convicted of 9 murderers and 11 attempted murderers as he was sentenced to five life terms, but served a minimum required 26 years. Having been just released from jail in December 2008, this just demonstrates that the German society takes this as a very big issue within Germany, as many pointless killings were convicted.[7]




ru3yefuhbrweiusses.pngChristian Klar, Brigitte Mohnhaupt R.A.F 2nd Generation Leader [8]

On April 20th, 1998, it was officially confirmed that the Red Army Faction Terrorist Group had dissolved as, “Almost 28 years ago, on 14 May 1970, the RAF arose in a campaign of liberation. Today we end this project. The urban guerrilla in the shape of the RAF is now history.” – RAF Official letter. After many years of killings and conducting numerous events through out Germany, the ending of the RAF was very significant the ending of the RAF was said as,[9]

“I was, I am, I will be Again.”


[[#_ftnref1|[1]][1] One Day In September. (1999). England: 22, October, [Video: VHS].
[2] Baader [Image]. Available From < http://www.teut-deese.de/blog/wp-content/uploads/2007/02/Baader1.jpg>
[3] Meinhof [Image]. Available From < http://www.planet-wissen.de/pics/IEPics/intro_raf_meinhof_g.jpg?
[[#_ftnref2|[2]][4]
International Terror and Antisemitism [Internet]. Tel Aviv University. [Accessed 20 May, 2009] Available From < http://www.tau.ac.il/Anti-Semitism/asw2005/karmon.html#_edn4>
[[#_ftnref3|[3]][5] Eager, P.W. (2008).
From Freedom Fighters To Terrorists Ashgate Publishing.
[[#_ftnref4|[4]][6] Jenkins, J.P. R
ed Army Faction [Internet]. [Accessed 21 May, 2009] Available from < http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/494068/Red-Army-Faction>
[[#_ftnref5|[5]][7] (2008).
Red Army Faction Leader ‘Is Free’ [Internet]. BBC. [Accessed 21 May, 2009] Available from < http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7791446.stm>
[8] Christian Klar, Brigitte Mohnhaupt ; source: AP; quoted in: Die Geschichte der RAF. Die zweite Generation der RAF (1975-1981). [Internet] Poole: bpb.de [Accessed 26 May 2009]
[[#_ftnref6|[6]][9] Red Army Faction. (1998).
“The Urban Guerrilla Is History” [Accessed 22 May, 2009] Available from < http://www.germanguerilla.com/red-army-faction/documents/98_03.html>