How Steel Was Hardened
The “bloody killer” Andreas Baader has begun his numerous crimes against “humanism and democracy” with organization of an orphanage for minor wrongdoers. The orphanage was eliminated because, on respectable burghers’ opinion, it had spoiled appearance and reputation of the district. This event made Andreas think of nature of society contemporary to him. Gudrun Ensslin (a pedagogue by profession) also worked in child orphanages as a volunteer, free of charge. Degreed psychiatrists Wolfgang and Ursula Guber considered necessary not merely to cure patients but to teach them to exist normally along with other people.
Their collegues absonant to their technique, or maybe to their popularity, resorted to the same methods as notorious Lysenko had won the scientific dispute over Vavilov.
A denunciation was directed to Bundesrepublik Nachrichtendienst (German Intelligence Service) that Gubers had not treated psychological and mental disorders but, in contrary, aggravated them by teaching their patients sociology, dialectics (that corresponded to reality) as well as karate and gun shooting (that did not correspond to reality but sounded effectively), and, naturally, it was taken into account.
The Gubers couple was arrested, deprived of their license and released soon, fate of many of their patients turned more tragic. They were forcibly placed into mental clinics of traditional kind and as a result of right, from the point of view of Western democracy, treatment: 2 of them committed a suicide; 1 - died under some strange circumstances; 2 - died of electric shock and insulin therapy consequences; all the others were declared incurable. As a result Wolfgang and Ursula have come to the same conclusions as Baader.
Ulrike Meinhof’s start in her political life was her participation in the students’ “Committee against Nuclear Death” activity. The Green strived to conducting a referendum on the question of nuclear weapon location at the FRG territory. In 1958 they have gone through all the necessary stages but the all-people poll did not take place. The federal authorities prohibited it. They did it rudely, impudently, without any grounds. Why to have grounds while there is force?
Besides, Ulrike, together with other German young left, collected and published dossier on Hitler’s associates who had escaped just recompense. Publicity was given to crimes of such villains as Johann Kremer (a doctor-executor from Auschwitz), Helmut Knochen (who had let fascist terror in France), the industrialist Deguss (who had sold gold melt from dental crowns of people executed in gas cameras), etc., nomen illis legio, to be precise - amounting to 364 thousands (!).
There was no official reaction to these revelations.
This circumstance is not amazing if we take into account that the handsome guys who had been officials, judges, officers, plants’ and factories’ owners under Hitler have generally retained their positions under “democracy” (e.g., officials - 85% at the moment). What could a man do - such human resourses were necessary for the West to protect it from the Red threat.
Ulrike has even clearer realized the nature of society contemporary to her having taken part in a campaign against adoption of a block of emergency laws affirming the right: to judge and to convict a person basing on data obtained from anonymous sources; to prohibit (without significant grounds) meetings and assemblies; to bring people to criminal liability for statements against FRG remilitarization; to inspect mail; to convict persons for “treason against fatherland” in a case of commitment by him/her any actions that court would consider threating FRG (a strike, for example); to confine citizens preventively into concenration camps under emergency state.
Aside for Ulrike (who had become the most journalist in FRG to that time), these initiatives (by the way, they were almost exact copy of the laws which had been in force in Hitler’s Germany) were opposed in public by: the Nobel Prize winner Max Born, the famous scientists Wolfgang Abendroth, Fritz Baade, Jurgen Seifert, the trade union edition “Gewerkschaftliche Monatshefte” editor-in-chief Helmut Ridder, the Professor Walther Fabian, the “Frankfurter Rundschau” deputy editor-in-chief Professor Erwin Sheikh.
The militants managed to organize mass protest actions and strikes but it did not work.
It is clear that democracy gave its relevant reply to demonstrations in support of the Third World peoples. It resorted to all means, from gutter press to “democratizers” [cudgels] and bullets.
Thus, on June, 02, 1967, during crackdown of a demonstration against Irani Shah visit, Hannover theology student Benno Osering was shot down in his back. Peculiarly, Benno was neither a leftist nor a socialist. He thought only that honouring at official level a tyrant personally guilty of torturing and killing a lot of people was not like Christian, that it does not make a good image for his country (a democratic one, isn’t it?).
Some time later one of the West German left leaders Rudi Dutschke was targeted. Springer’s newspapers appealed to all “honest Germans” to stop this “descendant of Marx and Trotsky” until one of neo-liberalism defenders, neo-Nazi Josef Bachmann listened to free press. In spite of his cranium shot through, Rudi Dutschke survived but turned into a disabled person suffering of terrible head-aches, occasional eyesight losses and epileptic seizures. In 1979 Dutschke died of the wound consequences.
Those Who Have Chosen Resistance
“The bullets knocked at Rudi Dutschke have finished off our dreams of peace amd non-violence”, Ulrike Meinhof wrote.
Soon after the attempt on his life Ensslin and Baader held their first military action - they “lighted a torch in honour of Vietnam” having put fire (at night time to avoid victims) a supermarket in Frankfurt-on-Main. Later Andreas and Gudrun were seized by a denunciation and sentenced to 3 years imprisonment. They managed to be released on parole having appealed against their sentence to the cassation instance and to “underground”.
In April 1979 Andreas Baader was seized by a transport police patrol. On May, 14, 1970 Ensslin organized his escapade. Ulrike Meinhof and Horst Mahler (a famous lawyer who was tired to observe forcelessly what occurred to human rights under democracy) helped her.
Then the “Rote Armee Fraktion” founders completed their “young guerilla training course” in Palestinian training camps and, having returned to FRG, used the obtained skills in practice.
Guerilla in the Den of the Enemy
In 1971 the first “Rote Armee Fraktion” declaration was published. The RAF members declared they had posed two aims: first, to help anti-imperialist guerilla movements in the “Third World” countries by opening the second front line in the very den of imperialism.
Second, to defraud fascism outside. To make the “democratic state” FRG show its genuine nature so that is is clear not only to left “extremists” but to all citizens.
The RAF members put their words into action immediately.
The militants performed bank expropriations (money were directed at purchasing arms, at propaganda, merely at underground life) as well as at sabotage actions. At the first stage of their struggle the RAF members did not attempt at life of people, even patented (under Hitler) villains, by ethical reasons.
However, after police had begun to shoot down urban guerillas at detainment (in such way Petra Schelm, Georg von Rauch, Thomas Weissbecker were killed), the survivors’ views on value of bourgeois democracy defenders’ lives have changed in some degree.
As a result militants of the first RAF generation managed to organize more than 800 terror acts (against NATO and Bundeswehr objects, punitive agencies and state power institutions); to expropriate more than 3 million Deutsche Marks; more than 115 NATO servicemen, policemen and former Nazis suffered from their arms.
A whole army of 150.000 policemen, spies and trackers was engaged in struggle against a platoon of urban guerillas (the RAF numbers did not exceed 30 persons at the moment). A price of 10.000 pieces of silver (sorry, Deutsche Marks) was set on the Rote Armee leaders’ heads.
On June, 01, 1972 a safe house of RAF was failed. Baader, Raspe and Meins were seized. On June, 15, 1972 Ulrike Meinhof was arrested. She came to her school friend to stay overnight, and he denounced her location.
”Dead Corridors” of the “Democracy”
Further, the German democracy has shown its worth large as life and twice as ugly. The captured militants were confined in solitary cells of the Stammheim prison built especially for them. A prisoner plunged into such a cell had neither sideway neighbours, nor upper, nor lower (the so-called system of «Toten Trakt» - “Dead Corridors”). Bright light was switched on in the solitary cell day and night, the white-coloured walls were made of sound-proof materials. Unnecessary things (e.g., newspapers) were forbidden. By conception of Dr. Mengele’s colleagues who had invented this system, sensory impoverishment (sensory deprivation) would have broken the prisoners down).
Meinhof described influence of such cell over a person in the following way:
“The room seems to move. You wake up, open your eyes and feel the walls moving… It is impossible to fight this feeling, it is impossible to understand why you are being shaken - of heat or of cold. You have to shout in order to say something at a normal voice level. Nevertheless, something like grumbling comes out - there is a full impression of growing deaf. Pronounciation of hushing sounds becomes unbearable… you get sight like through a polyethylene film. Head-ache, sicchasia… At writing - two lines, after having written the second one you don’t remember the first. Growing aggressiveness with no way out…”
During her confinement in the “dead corridors” Astrid Proll has lost 80% of hearing, 60% of sight, 40% of weight, has obtained hypertensive disease; heart arrhythmia; diseases of vestibular apparatus, gastrointestinal tract, liver, articulations, skin; aphasia; abasia; anorexia; amenorrhea.
In December 1972 the RAF political prisoners have declared a hunger strike, first a common one, then a dry one. They demanded to release Ulrike Meinhof and Astrid Proll from “dead corridors”. Mass death of people, not yet considered guilty by court, appeared too hard violation of conventionalities for democracy adherents. Meinhof was settled to a common solitary cell; Astrid Proll was found insane by court (it is clear from given above why) and released from prison. Freeside, Proll recovered soon and returned to her struggle again.
On the Right for Public Trial
On September, 10, 1974 the first proceeding over RAF began in West Berlin. Ulrike Meinhof, Holger Meins and their comrades were judged on charge of liberating Baader from custody. The trial was closed in camera not only for public but for defense witnesses, too. Attorneys were admitted but not allowed to speak.
On September, 13 the prisoners declared a hunger strike. They strived only for common trial, with adherence to common democratic procedures. The Supreme Judicial Chamber Chairman Günter von Drenkman refused them, stating: “Demagogy of these scums is dangerous for others. Like rabid dogs, they are able to infect everybody with their poisonous saliva”. On November, 9, 1974 Holger Meins died of inanition.
On November, 29, 1974 U.Meinhof was sentenced to 8 years imprisonment, against in “dead corridors”.
Probably, having isolated the first RAF generation militants, the law order defenders in Germany thought everything would be quiet further.
They were mistaken because urban guerillas had dealt quite successfully with their task - to show the society the narrowness of the margin between fascism and Western democracy.
Fighting terrorism, the authorities held:
Shooting raids (more than 145 persons were killed by policemen according to the principle “lifted hands up not quickly enough”, “looked about suspiciously” from 1971 to 1978, not more than 10 of them belonged to urban guerillas).
Exterminating sympathizers (Only on May, 31, 1972 more than 300 persons were detained by denunciations. Two of them died of infarction after “democratic” interrogation. In total several dozens thousands of FRG citizens were subjected to this execution. Later many of them lost their jobs. Employers seemed to understand that, as there was not totalitarism but democracy in Germany, nobody was to be detained for no reason at all, and they made relevant conclusions.
Employment bans (“Berufsverboten”). (A Nazi might be a school teacher in denazified Germany but a leftist might not. Several millions people were subjected to “rather pleasant” loyalty screening, thousands were fired).
It is clear such measures left almost nobody untouched. One part of the society was intimidated, another part fell into a passion.
Meins’ funeral was accompanied with mass disorders, police cars and departments were smashed all over West Berlin. Some time later many thousands participants of rallies chanted: “RAF is right, you are fascists”. And there were those who continued the captured militants’ case.
The Struggle Continues
On November, 10, 1974 the judge Drenkman (the same who had starved Meins to death a year before) was celebrating his birthday. Having heard the door bell and seen two very beautiful girls with flowers through the eyehole, the villain burst the door open joyfully and… And saw the girls, aside for flowers, had an assault rifle… Further, as the saying is, the reward has found the hero… It is necessary to note that further, although human rights were still violated during proceses over RAF members, but not to such extent.
Later the West Berlin Christian democrats’ leader Peter Lorenz was kidnapped and exchanged to captured RAF militants (Rolf Pol, Rolf Heisler, Gabriel Krecher-Tidman, Horst Mahler, Ina Siepmann and Verena Becher).
On May, 21, 1975 a large process over Meinhof, Baader, Raspe, Ensslin and their comrades was to begin. Urban guerillas occupied the FRG embassy in Stockholm, took 12 diplomats as hostages and demanded to release the defendants. The FRG authorities gave an order, and special forces took the embassy by assault. Two of the diplomats were killed and several more wounded. It was the very case when the term “Stockholm syndrome” appeared which means the following if translated from “official” language into human: “when these impudent hostages, on the assumption of higher interests, are shot at, they dare to resent it ungratefully!”
On May, 8, 1976 (by other sources - May, 9) Meinhof “commited a suicide” having “hanged herself” onto a hook pegged into the ceiling. It is necessary to note that the cell ceiling was 4 metres high over the floor; the solitary cell was checked every 15 minutes and searched twice a day.
The authorities strived that Meinhof, as a suicider, would be buried not at the city cemetery Mariendorf but beyond its fence. Württemberg Bishop refused to meet them half-way referring to the seal of confession; and burgomaster Rommel, the son of the very same Rommel, by the way, ultra-right like his father, stated: “There were mere suiciders in 1944, too: my father, Canaris… Should they be dug out from their tombs?” Some time later, at the second proceedings over RAF, Jan Carl Raspe accused the prosecutor Siegfried Buback of Meinhof murder. A pleasant fact should be noted - the reward has found this hero, too. It was the same reward as deserved by Drenkman.
On September, 5, 1977 an outstanding industrialist, a millionaire, the chairman of the West Germany Union of Industrialists Hanns Martin Schleyer was captured by urban guerillas. On October, 13, 1997 a “Lufthansa” airplane was skyjacked to Somali capital Mogadishu by a group of RAF-sympathizing Palestinians. In both cases the militants demanded the captured RAF members’ release. On October, 17 the plane was taken by assault by German special forces. At the same night a “suicide” was commited over Andreas Baader, Gunrun Ensslin, Jan Carl Raspe and Ingrid Schubert.
Herewith, by official version, Ensslin hanged herself on an electric cable stretch; Baader and Raspe shot themselves (it is set forth above how the RAF militants’ cells were searched); and Irmgard Meller delivered to herself four penetrating wounds by a blunt table-knife. However, the “suicide” executors had a misfire with her. Irmgard survived and told her lawyer that she had not attempted to commit a suicide but had gone to bed simply and had been awaken having heard the door bursting open and… regained her conscience in the hospital yet.
Her attorney Klaus Croissant.publicized this information. At once he was charged of “aiding terrorism”. Klaus escaped to France, was extradited back and arrested, first as an “aider”, then, after having served his first term of punishment, as a “GDR spy”.
Naturally, the guerillas put Schleyer to death. It would be possible to regret of this German industry pillar’s destiny but for one point. During the war Schleyer directed plundering of occupied Czechoslovakia and extermination of prisoners in the “Czechia-Moravia” protectorate camps.
However, if the FRG authorities considered “no person - no problem”, they were mistaken. The RAF struggle continued until the 1990es.
One of the last victims of the Red Army militants in 1991 was Detlev-Karsten Rowedder, an organizer of privatization in the former GDR. I think hardly any of the former USSR citizens would squeeze out a tear on this German Chubais’ destiny.
Twenty Years Later
In April 1998 the “Red Army” men’s letter was published informing on dissolution of their organization. They stated that new political situation required new forms of struggle. Which ones? Probably we’ll learn it once.
Birgit Hogefeld, one of the leaders of the second RAF generation, is the only one to be confined in custody up to now (since 1993). On February, 12, 2007 the Supreme Land Court in Stuttgart has made a decision on conditional release of 57-years-old Brigitte Mohnhaupt from prison. The 5th Criminal Chamber decision came into force on March, 27, 2007, on the day when 24 years of Mohnhaupt’s confinement in custody passed. On August, 17, 2007 the Supreme Land Court of Hessen in Frankfurt-on-Main satisfied the petition for conditional release of Eva Sybille Haule who had served 21 year of imprisonment. On December, 19, 2008 the former RAF member Christian Klar has got liberty in Germany after having served 26 years in prison.