Autumn 1977. Germany is in a state of shock. Terrorists of the Red Army Fraction have violently kidnapped the president of the employer’s organization Hanns-Martin Schleyer. They demand the release of their comrades Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ennslin, and Jan Carl Raspe from prison. They want to avoid what overcame Holger Meins, who died of starvation in prison during a hunger strike, and Ulrike Meinhof, who committed suicide in her cell.
Police, army, and intelligence start a roundup to hunt the terrorists down. The country is paralysed. The terrorists remain untraceable and persist in their demands. When the government refuses to comply, a group of Palestinian sympathizers hijack an airplane with german tourists. A bizarre voyage starts, with the plane hopping from country to country. In Mogadishu German elite troops eventually manage to storm the plane and free the hostages. The next morning, 18 October 1977, in Stammheim’s high-security prison, Andreas Baader and Gudrun Ennslin are found dead in their cells. Jan-Carl Raspe is sitting on his bed, dying, blood streaming from his head.
The ‘German Autumn’, as this harrowing period is called, was the climax of years of struggle between left-wing militants and the German state.
In the course of this struggle Baader and Meinhof, Ennslin and Meins received heroic stature among their sympathizers.
The Red Army Fraction became a puzzling myth. Its history is now the subject of books and films. Artists thematised it in installations and paintings, with Gerhard Richter’s whisper-soft painting cycle “18 October 1977” as a sinister milestone. How was it possible that the protest of young people escalated in such a way that 67 people died violently, and 230 were seriously wounded?
In the series, Rote Armee Fraktion, we are searching for the roots of its myth and the ways it has been represented by artists and filmmakers.
Rote Armee Fraktion is organized in co-operation with the Goethe Institute and will be moderated by Erik Viskil.
Studium Generale Rietveld, the Goethe Institute and De Balie will present a film programme on the subject in De Balie, (Kleine Gartmanplantsoen 10, Amsterdam) on November 16 and 17.
All films will be screened with english subtitles.
16 november 19:30hrs:
The lost honor of Katharina Blum, or how violence develops and where it can lead — Volker Schlöndorff & Margarethe von Trotta, Germany, (106 minutes)
16 november 21:30hrs:
Black box brd — Andres Veiel, Germany, 2000, (100 minutes)
17 november 19:30hrs:
Die dritte Generation — Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Germany, 1979,
17 november 21:30hrs:
The red years — Leo de Boer, the Netherlands, (73 minutes)
Hans und grete
Primacy of praxis
Karl-Heinz dellwo / jacco pekelder
Don't trhow bombs, make films!
18 october 1977
Misguided idealist or brutal murderers?
Inside the Rote Armee Fraktion
1974. Baader, Ensslin, Meinhof, Meins, and Raspe, the leaders of the Red Armee Fraction, are in prison. They go on hunger strike to protest against the conditions in their cells.
In this collective struggle Holger Meins ultimately dies from starvation. Left-wing Germany is shocked. The sympathizers of the Red Armee Fraction accuse the state of murder. In april 1975 a group of Raf-terrorists, calling themselves the commando Holger Meins, attack the German embassy in Stockholm. They take hostages, shoot two German attachés, and demand the release of the prisoners. Due to an untimely explosion the action comes to an early end. Two Raf-members are killed, the others caught by the police.
This tragedy is the starting point of an interview with Karl-Heinz Dellwo, one of the Raf-members involved in the Stockholm action. Dellwo was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1977, and released in 1995. He now lives in Hamburg, and works as a documentary filmmaker. In 2004 David Aronowitsch made a film about his experiences, called Stockholm 1975.
Karl-Heinz Dellwo will be interviewed by Jacco Pekelder. Jacco pekelder is research co-ordinator at the Duitsland Instituut of the University of Amsterdam.