"Shooting and sex are the same thing...", or What the revolutionaries of the new formation from the RAF wanted
50 years ago, the bloody history of the RAF, the most brutal terrorist organization in Europe, began. Its creators were not Islamic fundamentalists or punks embittered by the whole world, but students of prestigious universities, children of professors, writers and poets, and even philosophers. These "golden" youth became urban guerrillas, daring and ruthless, and many of them went on their way to the end.
The appearance of the organization "Red Army Faction" (RAF - Rote Armee Fraktion) in West Berlin was not accidental at all. In the 60s, many young Germans began to realize that their parents supported the Nazis or, at least, did not interfere with them. Added to this was the Vietnam War, which gave impetus to youth movements and the sexual revolution with its permissiveness and denial of the old morality.
A lot of youth groups appeared in Germany, who protested as best they could. Some played rock and used drugs, others loved the whole world and sunbathed naked, and still others set themselves the goal of changing the world at any cost right now. The RAF organization was the most radical of them and its members, without exaggeration, were ready for anything.
If we analyze the works of the founders of the RAF, then the organization can be described as a radical revolutionary-socialist group. Its members hated the German government, the "system" and its functionaries. They believed that there were strong Nazi tendencies in society, which were drawn to the country from the relatively recent past.
Members of the first generation of the RAF passed their terrorist universities in the camps of Palestinian militants in the desert of Jordan. The mastermind of the organization, Andreas Baader, with the most loyal associates, among whom there were five girls, learned to shoot automatic weapons, mastered subversive work and studied the tactics of fighting in urban conditions.
Andreas Baader and Gudrun Ensslin
Beginning terrorists failed to listen to the end of the "young fighter's course" — the habit of sunbathing naked, bad habits and unwillingness to obey led to the fact that German comrades were persistently asked to leave the camp. But what Baader and his friends learned was enough — the group could develop further by itself, honing the skills of terror in practice at home in Berlin.
For the first time, the RAF declared itself on April 2, 1968, with a terrorist attack in Frankfurt am Main. On this day, four young men - Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin, Thorvald Prohl and Horst Zeinlen, planted bombs in pre-planned locations in two major department stores of the "capital of German capital" at 18.30.
The bombs went off at 23.53 and caused serious fires, which miraculously did not lead to casualties. The damage from this action amounted to 700 thousand marks and caused a serious panic both in Frankfurt itself and in Germany as a whole. The terrorists were arrested just a day after the explosions on a tip from a friend of the landlady of a rented apartment, to whom the young tenants seemed strange.
All the participants in the bombing were convicted and received 3 years in prison. The trial of the students caused a serious public outcry and even youth performances. The verdict seemed too strict to everyone and very soon the lawyers and public opinion did their job — all the terrorists were released on bail.
The aftermath of the explosion in a supermarket in Frankfurt am Main
They were obliged to appear at court sessions and Baader and his associates complied with this condition until an event occurred that many consider to be the key in this whole story. On April 11, 1968, neo-Nazis attempted to assassinate the leader of the student Marxist movement, Rudy Dutschke.
A certain Josef Bachmann fired a pistol three times at Dutschke on the street when he left his office. The student leader survived, but this event forced Baader and his colleagues to violate the bail rules and not appear at the next court hearing. RAF members decided to start an armed struggle and went underground. But the group's plans were confused by the sudden arrest of Andreas Baader.
Andreas occupied one of the cells of the prison and began to prepare for the trial and already a serious term. But justice was not destined to prevail this time either. On May 14, 1970, Andreas Baader was brought under reliable protection to the Berlin Institute for Social Research to meet with a young journalist Ulrika Meinhof.
Andreas Baader enters the courtroom. onethousandninehundredseventy
The girl had been seeking a meeting with the main ideologist of the terrorist organization for a long time and was determined to write a book about radical youth movements in West Germany. The interview ended with. that Baader and Meinhoff shot an employee of the Georg Linke Institute and, threatening the guards with weapons brought by Ulrika, disappeared in an unknown direction.
The seriously injured Linke survived and he had the honor of becoming the first number in the long list of victims of the RAF, in which there were 39 killed and 75 wounded. Shortly after the daring escape, on June 5, 1970, an official appeal of the group, written by Gudrun Ensslin, appeared in one of the Berlin publications, in which the "Red Army Faction" declared war on the state.
From this moment begins the two-year history of the struggle of Baader, Meinhof, Ensslin and Mahler with the state and "rotten Western society". The group, which was not called the RAF organization, but more prosaically — the "Baader-Meinhof Gang" attacked officials, police officers, large entrepreneurs, and the military. "Shooting and sex are the same thing," Baader liked to say to his colleagues, and RAF members never thought about using weapons.
Andreas Baader's team received money for its activities by robbing banks and shops, and weapons and cars were boldly stolen from citizens and the police. On May 15, 1970, terrorists committed an armed robbery of the Bank fur Industri und Handel, where 200 thousand marks became their prey.
It was decided to put a solid jackpot into action and the money went to the very trip to the Middle East, which ended prematurely due to the fault of the Germans themselves. Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin, Ulrika Meinhof, Horst Mahler, Peter Homann, Brigitte Asdonk and at least ten minor members of the organization visited the Palestinian terrorist camp.
The consequences of one of the explosions staged by the RAF in a supermarket
On August 27, 1970, Baader committed an armed robbery of a supermarket, and a couple of days later - a large bank. The "Baader-Meinhof Gang" was gaining popularity among journalists at a rapid pace and they were talked about all over the country. On September 22, 1970, three groups of the organization simultaneously attacked three banks in West Berlin. 220 thousand marks became the prey of terrorists.
After such success, it was decided to lie low and not show any activity for a while. But it didn't help, and a few days later the police tracked down Mahler and four terrorist girls in a safe rented apartment. All five were arrested with an impressive baggage of evidence — weapons, money and components for improvised explosive devices.
Bombs were first used by RAF members in 1972. A series of explosions in state institutions and military facilities claimed 4 lives and maimed 30 people. These actions forced the police and the State security service to seriously deal with terrorists. In the middle of the spring of the same 1972, one of the largest operations in the history of Germany was carried out, in which 150 thousand police officers and agents took part.
Police targeting of RAF members
In Frankfurt am Main alone, 15,000 employees participated in the round-up. It was there that luck smiled on the authorities and on June 1, Baader and two associates, Raspe and Meins, were arrested in a rented apartment on Hofeckstrasse. Just a week later, Gudrun Ensslin was detained in a fashion store, and on June 15, Meinhoff, who was visiting an old friend, was seized in the city of Hanover-Langenhagen.
The investigation into the case of young terrorists continued for almost two years, and only in 1974 a trial was held, which was called the "Stammheim trial". At the trial, RAF members were accused of more than 100 attempts, 39 murders and causing serious harm to 75 people.
Members of the Baader terrorist organization were charged with 5 murders, 55 attempts and a series of arson and explosions. The case took a very bad turn and on January 17, 1973, members of the RAF, and at that time there were already 40 people behind bars, began an indefinite hunger strike. The main demand of the hunger strikers was "the cessation of the use of isolation measures against political prisoners of Germany."
A wig and a pistol with a silencer found during a search in Baader's rented apartment
Members of the terrorist organization demanded better conditions of detention, including transfer from solitary cells to shared cells, to other prisoners. Baader also insisted on assigning his group the status of prisoners of war, but was refused. As a result of the hunger strike on November 9, 1974, Holger Meins died in the hospital of the Wittlich prison.
But today it is known for sure that there was no bullying in relation to the "revolutionaries" and they were sitting quite comfortably. The proof of not too strict conditions of detention were photographs taken in prison with a camera illegally brought there, as well as an interview with Horst Bubeck, a guard at Stuttgart's Stammheim prison.
RAF members in court
In April 1977, all members of the RAF, except Ulrika Meinhoff, were sentenced to life in prison. Meinhoff, whose case was brought into separate proceedings, received an 8-year prison sentence on November 29, 1974. All key RAF figures died in prison in 1976-77.
On May 9, 1976, Ulrika Meinhoff was found hanging from the bars of a window in her cell. The investigation found that the terrorist tore a handkerchief into ribbons and managed to weave a rope. This death caused a lot of questions, and the church refused to recognize the girl as a suicide at all.
Meinhoff hanged herself on a structure located 4 meters above the floor of the cell, despite the fact that visual inspection of the prisoner was carried out every quarter of an hour, and twice a day the cell was thoroughly searched. Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin and Jan-Karl Raspe were later found dead in their cells. The official version says that Baader and Raspe shot themselves with a weapon smuggled into the prison by lawyers.
Stammheim Prison in Stuttgart
While the terrorists were alive, numerous attempts were made to rescue them. There was also the hijacking of an airplane by Arab extremists demanding the release of RAF members, and the abduction in September 1977 of Hans-Martin Schleyer, chairman of the West German Union of Industrialists and a former SS man who was presented as a hostage.
It is worth adding that after the death of the leaders of the RAF of the so-called "first wave", the terrorist organization continued life in the "second wave", and then in the "third wave". Murders, robberies, bombings and kidnappings continued for almost two more decades.
On April 20, 1998, an envelope with a document stating the official dissolution of the RAF was found in the mail of the Wiesbaden Police Department. Experts admitted that the letter was not a fake, but the search for the remaining members of the group continued.
Hostage Hans-Martin Schleyer on the background of the RAF emblem
The operation to detain the last members of the organization took place on September 15, 1999 — one of the extremists by the name of Mayer was shot by special services, and his girlfriend, Andrea Klump, was arrested. Later, Klump was omitted due to the lack of evidence of her involvement in the organization. The news of her release was the last important information about the bloodiest terrorist organization in post-war Europe.
Keywords: Berlin | Bombings | Germany | Starvation | Abduction | Revolution | Trial | Terrorism