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|Part of the Cold War and Israeli–Palestinian conflict|
Hanns Martin Schleyer as a hostage
|Commanders and leaders|
| Andreas Baader † |
Gudrun Ensslin †
| Chancellor Helmut Schmidt |
Federal Attorney Siegfried Buback †
Interior Minister Werner Maihofer
| Commando 15 July|
2 June Commando
|Federal, state, and municipal police forces.|
18 free RAF members and close supporters
|Helicopters, APCs, and +10,000 police|
|Casualties and losses|
3 dead (killed in prison)
3 injured (1 in prison, 2 WIA)
| 8 police officers killed, 2 wounded|
1 civil servant killed
|2 civilians killed|
The German Autumn (German : Deutscher Herbst) was a series of events in Germany in late 1977 associated with the kidnapping and murder of industrialist and businessman Hanns Martin Schleyer, president of the Confederation of German Employers' Associations (BDA) and the Federation of German Industries (BDI), by the Red Army Faction (RAF) terrorist group, and the hijacking of the Lufthansa airplane Landshut by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). They demanded the release of ten RAF members detained at the Stammheim Prison plus two Palestinian compatriots held in Turkey and US$15 million in exchange for the hostages. The assassination of Siegfried Buback, the attorney-general of West Germany on 7 April 1977, and the failed kidnapping and murder of the banker Jürgen Ponto on 30 July 1977, marked the beginning of the German Autumn. It ended on 18 October, with the liberation of the Landshut, the death of the leading figures of the first generation of the RAF in their prison cells, and the death of Schleyer.
The phrase "German Autumn" is derived from the 1978 film Deutschland im Herbst ( Germany in Autumn ), a German omnibus film whose segments covered the social atmosphere during late 1977, while offering different critical perspectives and arguments pertaining to the situation. The directors involved were Heinrich Böll, Hans Peter Cloos, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Alexander Kluge, Maxmiliane Mainka, Edgar Reitz, Katja Rupé, Volker Schlöndorff, Peter Schubert and Bernhard Sinkel. Kluge and Beate Mainka-Jellinghaus edited the film.
On 7 April 1977, Siegfried Buback, the attorney-general of West Germany, was shot and killed alongside his driver Wolfgang Göbel and a passenger, judicial officer Georg Wurster, in an ambush whilst travelling from his home in Neureut to the Bundesgerichtshof in Karlsruhe.
Four RAF members, Christian Klar, Knut Folkerts, Günter Sonnenberg and Brigitte Mohnhaupt were formally charged and prosecuted in connection with the Buback murder. In 2007, former RAF members Peter-Jürgen Boock and Verena Becker claimed that another former RAF member, Stefan Wisniewski, had fired the gun that killed Buback.
On 30 July 1977, Jürgen Ponto, the head of Dresdner Bank, was shot and killed in his house in Oberursel in a kidnapping that went wrong. Those involved were Brigitte Mohnhaupt, Christian Klar and Susanne Albrecht, the last being the sister of Ponto's goddaughter.
On 5 September 1977, an RAF 'commando unit' attacked the chauffeured car carrying Hanns Martin Schleyer, then president of the German employers' association, in Cologne. His driver, Heinz Marcisz, 41, was forced to brake when a baby carriage suddenly appeared in the street in front of them. The police escort vehicle behind them was unable to stop in time, and crashed into Schleyer's car. Four (or possibly five) masked RAF members sprayed machine gun and machine pistol bullets into the two vehicles, killing Marcisz and a police officer, Roland Pieler, 20, who was seated in the backseat of Marcisz's car. The driver of the police escort vehicle, Reinhold Brändle, 41 and a third police officer, Helmut Ulmer, 24, who was in the second vehicle were also killed. The hail of bullets riddled over twenty bullet wounds into the bodies of Brändle and Pieler.Schleyer was abducted and held prisoner in a rented apartment in an anonymous residential neighborhood near Cologne. He was forced to appeal to the center-left West German government under Helmut Schmidt for the 'first generation' of RAF members (then imprisoned) to be exchanged for him. Police investigations to locate Schleyer proved unsuccessful. On 18 October 1977, three of the imprisoned RAF members were found dead in their cells. In response, Schleyer was taken from Brussels and shot dead en route to Mulhouse, France, where his body was left in the trunk of a green Audi 100 on the rue Charles Péguy. After the kidnappers phoned the location of the Audi to the Deutsche Presse-Agentur office in Stuttgart, Schleyer's body was recovered on 19 October.
When it became clear that the government was unwilling to entertain a further prisoner exchange given the experience of the kidnapping of Peter Lorenz two years earlier, the RAF tried to exert additional pressure by hijacking the Lufthansa aeroplane Landshut on October 13 1977 with the help of the allied Palestinian group PFLP. After a long odyssey through the Arabian Peninsula and the execution-type killing of Captain Jürgen Schumann, the hijackers and their hostages landed in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia.
After political negotiations with the Somali leader Siad Barre, the West German government was granted permission to assault the plane Lufthansa 181. This was carried out on 18 October by the special task force GSG 9, which had been formed after the 1972 Munich Olympics hostage crisis. Only one GSG 9 member and one flight-attendant were injured; of the hijackers only Souhaila Andrawes survived.
On the same night, three of the imprisoned RAF members – Gudrun Ensslin, Jan-Carl Raspe and Andreas Baader – were found dead in their cells.
The official investigation into the deaths of the imprisoned RAF members concluded that they had committed suicide: Baader and Raspe using handguns allegedly smuggled into the Stammheim maximum security prison by their lawyer Arndt Müller, Ensslin by hanging herself. Irmgard Möller, who was imprisoned with them, survived with four knife wounds in her chest. She later claimed that the "suicides" were actually extrajudicial killings. On 12 November Ingrid Schubert was found hanged in her cell.
Germany's political parties also came into fierce clashes during the German Autumn. The CDU/CSU suspected that the ruling social-liberal SPD-FDP coalition under Helmut Schmidt (SPD) were ideologically close to the terrorists. The coalition, in turn, accused the opposition of hysteric overreactions and seizing the opportunity to transform the Federal Republic a little way into a police state.This caused great indignation in the CDU/CSU.
Despite—or because of—these conflicts, the opposition agreed to appoint Schmidt as Chancellor during the formation of the Großer Krisenstab, a temporary government formed at the beginning of the Schleyer kidnapping, which involved members of all parties in the Bundestag. Historian Wolfgang Kraushaar likened its 45-day rule to an "undeclared state of emergency". One result of the cross-party collaboration was the Kontaktsperre, a law which mandated that RAF prisoners could have no access to newspapers, TV, or radio, and could not be visited by family or lawyers.
The Red Army Faction, also known as the Baader–Meinhof Group or Baader–Meinhof Gang, was a West German far-left militant organization founded in 1970. Key early figures included Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin, Horst Mahler and Ulrike Meinhof, among others. Ulrike Meinhof was involved in Baader's escape from jail in 1970. The West German/German government as well as most Western media and literature considered the Red Army Faction to be a terrorist organization.
Gudrun Ensslin was a founder of the West German far-left militant group Red Army Faction. After becoming involved with co-founder Andreas Baader, Ensslin was influential in the politicization of his anarchist beliefs. Ensslin was perhaps the intellectual head of the RAF. She was involved in five bomb attacks, with four deaths, was arrested in 1972 and died on 18 October 1977 in what has been called Stammheim Prison's Death Night.
Berndt Andreas Baader was one of the first leaders of the West German left-wing militant organization Red Army Faction, also commonly known as the Baader-Meinhof Group.
Irmgard Möller is a former member of the German terrorist group the Red Army Faction (RAF). Her father was a high school teacher, and before joining the RAF, she was a student of German studies.
Hans-Jürgen Wischnewski was a German politician of the Social Democratic Party (SPD).
Brigitte Margret Ida Mohnhaupt is a German convicted former terrorist associated with the second generation of the Red Army Faction (RAF) members. She was also part of the Socialist Patients' Collective (SPK). From 1971 until 1982 she was active within the RAF.
Lufthansa Flight 181 was a Boeing 737-230C jetliner named the Landshut that was hijacked on the afternoon of 13 October 1977 by four members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, who called themselves Commando Martyr Halima. The objective of the hijacking was to secure the release of imprisoned Red Army Faction leaders in German prisons. In the early hours of 18 October, just after midnight, the aircraft was stormed by the West German counter-terrorism group GSG 9 in Mogadishu, Somalia, with 90 passengers rescued. The rescue operation was codenamed Feuerzauber. The hijacking is considered to be part of the German Autumn.
Sieglinde Hofmann was a German militant and member of both the Socialist Patients' Collective and the Red Army Faction.
The Red Army Faction (RAF) existed in West Germany from 1970 to 1998, committing numerous crimes, especially in the autumn of 1977, which led to a national crisis that became known as the "German Autumn". The RAF was founded in 1970 by Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin, Ulrike Meinhof, Horst Mahler, and others. The first generation of the organization was commonly referred to by the press and the government as the "Baader-Meinhof Gang", a name the group did not use to refer to itself.
Siegfried Hausner was a student member of the German Socialist Patients' Collective and later the Red Army Faction.
Stammheim Prison is a prison in Stuttgart, Baden Württemberg, Germany. It is situated on the northern boundaries of Stuttgart in the city district of Stuttgart-Stammheim, right between fields and apartment blocks on the fringes of Stammheim. The prison was built as a supermax prison between 1959 and 1963 and taken into operation in 1964.
Christian Klar was a leading member of the second generation Red Army Faction (RAF) between the 1970s and 1980s. Imprisoned in 1982 in Bruchsal Prison, he was released on 19 December 2008, after serving over 26 years of his life sentence.
Stefan Wisniewski is a former member of the Red Army Faction (RAF).
The Baader Meinhof Complex is a 2008 German drama film directed by Uli Edel. Written and produced by Bernd Eichinger, it stars Moritz Bleibtreu, Martina Gedeck, and Johanna Wokalek. The film is based on the 1985 German best selling non-fiction book of the same name by Stefan Aust. It retells the story of the early years of the West German far-left terrorist organisation the Rote Armee Fraktion from 1967 to 1977.
Adelheid Schulz was a member of the West German terrorist Red Army Faction.
Peter-Jürgen Boock is a former terrorist of the Red Army Faction.
Knut Detlef Folkerts is a former member of the terrorist group, the Red Army Faction (RAF).
Events in the year 1977 in Germany.
The kidnapping and murder of Hanns-Martin Schleyer marked the end of the German Autumn in 1977.
Mogadischu is a 2008 German made-for-TV thriller film chronicling the events surrounding the hijacking of Lufthansa Flight 181 by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in 1977. Directed by Roland Suso Richter, it was first shown on public broadcasting channel Das Erste on 30 November 2008.