Gudrun Ensslin photographed in a scene from the experimental film Das Abonnement (1967).
|Died||18 October 1977 37) (aged|
|Education||Free University of Berlin|
|Organization||Red Army Faction|
Gudrun Ensslin (German: [ˈɡuːdʁuːn ˈɛnsliːn] ; 15 August 1940 – 18 October 1977) was a founder of the West German far-left militant group Red Army Faction (Rote Armee Fraktion, or RAF, also known as the Baader-Meinhof Gang). 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.
Gudrun Ensslin, the fourth of seven children, was born in the village of Bartholomä in Baden-Württemberg, Germany.[ citation needed ] Her father, Helmut, was a pastor of the Evangelical Church in Württemberg. Ensslin was a well-behaved child who did well at school and enjoyed working with the Protestant Girl Scouts, and doing parish work such as organizing Bible studies. In her family, the social injustices of the world were often discussed, and Gudrun is said[ who? ] to have been sensitized to social problems in West Germany and the world as a whole.
At age eighteen, Ensslin spent a year in the United States, where she attended high school in Warren, Pennsylvania. She graduated in the Honor Group at Warren High School in 1959. After returning home, she finished the remaining requirements for her secondary education.
Like her partner Bernward Vesper and other members of the Red Army Faction (including Ulrike Meinhof and Horst Mahler), Ensslin had excellent exam scores and received a scholarship from the German National Academic Foundation. Studying at the University of Tübingen, she read education, English Studies, and German studies. Ensslin also met Vesper in February 1962.
In Tübingen, together with two other students, Ensslin and Vesper organized a student workshop for new literature which led to a shoestring publishing business called Studio neue Literatur. The first book produced was an anthology of poems against atomic weapons, with many well-known poets from all German-speaking countries [ citation needed ]as well as a bilingual edition of poems by Gerardo Diego. In 1963–1964, Gudrun Ensslin earned her elementary school teacher's diploma. In the summer of 1964, the couple moved to West Berlin where Ensslin began her thesis on Hans Henny Jahnn at the Free University.
In 1965, Gudrun's younger sister Johanna married Günter Maschke, then a revolutionary Marxist poet and member of the Situationist International group Subversive Aktion, which included Rudi Dutschke as a member. Maschke is now a leading conservative antidemocratic intellectual and editor of Carl Schmitt. Later that year, Gudrun and Bernward were engaged to be married. Both were active on the democratic left-wing, they had well-paid jobs working for the Social Democratic Party of Germany. The couple demonstrated together against new security laws, the Vietnam War, an Allied Powers arms show, and for the right to demonstrate. [ citation needed ] In May 1967, Ensslin gave birth to their son Felix Robert Ensslin.[ citation needed ]Vesper neglected his studies, read voraciously, and in 1966 published, with a group of friends, a serious and important series of pamphlets and paperbacks, the Voltaire Flugschriften.
In July or August 1967, Ensslin met Andreas Baader and they soon began a love affair. Baader had come to Berlin in 1963, to escape ongoing troubles with the Munich justice system and also to avoid conscription. The young criminal who drifted in and out of youth detention centers and prison soon became the man of Ensslin's life.In February 1968, Ensslin broke up with Vesper by phone, informing him that the relationship was already finished before Felix was born. An artifact from this time is an experimental film Ensslin participated in entitled Das Abonnement (The Subscription).
In June 1967, Ensslin participated in political protests against the Shah of Iran during his visit to Germany. Though Western governments viewed the Shah as a reformer, his regime has been criticized for oppression, brutality,corruption, and extravagance. In what started as a peaceful demonstration at Deutsche Oper Berlin, fights broke out between pro-Shah and anti-Shah factions and an innocent young man by the name of Benno Ohnesorg was fatally shot in the back of the head by a police officer. The police officer, Karl-Heinz Kurras, was revealed in 2009 to be an undercover Stasi (East German State Security) agent. That night, Ensslin angrily denounced West Germany as a fascist state at a Sozialistischer Deutscher Studentenbund meeting. Also, Berlin's own urban guerrilla organization, Movement 2 June, named itself after this event.
Kurras was charged with manslaughter and acquitted of the charge on 23 November 1967, which caused public outrage.[ citation needed ] Matters eventually cooled, which enraged Ensslin.[ citation needed ] She had left Vesper and her child for good early in 1968 and now she, Baader and Thorwald Proll decided to escalate the fight against the system.[ citation needed ] They left Berlin around 20 March, and in Munich decided to firebomb department stores in Frankfurt, where a Socialist German Student Union congress was taking place. Together with Horst Söhnlein, they left for Frankfurt on 1 April.[ citation needed ]
On the night of 2 April 1968, two fires were set in two department stores in Frankfurt. Baader, Ensslin, Proll and Söhnlein remained in Frankfurt and were arrested three days later.[ citation needed ] In October 1968 they were sentenced to three years in prison for arson.[ citation needed ] After being released pending an appeal in June 1969, Baader, Ensslin and Proll fled when the appeal was denied.[ citation needed ] Baader was arrested on 3 April 1970.[ citation needed ] Ensslin, Meinhof (who was at that time a well-known leftist journalist), and two other women freed him on 14 May 1970.[ citation needed ] One person was wounded.[ citation needed ] This was the beginning of the gang's violent actions, and the Red Army Faction.[ citation needed ] Ensslin became one of the most wanted people in Germany.[ citation needed ]
In May 1971, Vesper died by suicide and Felix was sent to live with foster parents.
Ensslin was arrested in a boutique on 8 June 1972 in Hamburg.[ citation needed ]
The Red Army Faction's second generation made several attempts to free Ensslin and her comrades from prison. One attempt involved the kidnapping of Hanns-Martin Schleyer on 5 September 1977, and a proposed prisoner exchange. When this failed to work, the RAF orchestrated the hijacking of a Lufthansa airliner on 17 October. After the airplane was stormed by a German anti-terrorist unit, Schleyer was killed in France.[ citation needed ]
Hours later, in a night that became known as "Death Night", Ensslin, Baader and Jan-Carl Raspe were found dead in the high security block of Stammheim Prison in Stuttgart. Like Meinhof, Ensslin was found dead by hanging in her cell. Baader and Raspe were found shot. A fourth member, Irmgard Möller, allegedly stabbed herself four times in the chest with a stolen knife. She recovered from her wounds and has since stated that the deaths were not suicides, but extrajudicial killings undertaken by the government of the time, a claim strongly denied by the governments former and present. [ citation needed ]One exhaustive study of the RAF by Stefan Aust (revised in 2009 as "Baader-Meinhof: the inside story of the RAF") seconds the state's official ruling that the deaths were suicides. On 27 October 1977, Ensslin was buried in a common grave with Baader and Raspe in the Dornhalde Cemetery in Stuttgart.
In 1981, Margarethe von Trotta's feature film Marianne and Juliane presented a fictionalised portrayal of an incarcerated Ensslin (Barbara Sukowa) and her sister (Jutta Lampe).
In 1986, Sabine Wegner played Ensslin in Reinhard Hauff's Stammheim , a detailed account of the trial against Ensslin, Baader, Meinhof and others.
Also in 1986, Corinna Kirchhoff played Ensslin in Markus Imhoof's The Journey , based on the memoirs of Ensslin's companion Bernward Vesper.
In 1997, Anya Hoffmann was Ensslin in Heinrich Breloer's award-winning TV docudrama Todesspiel.
In 2008, Ensslin was portrayed by Johanna Wokalek in Uli Edel's The Baader Meinhof Complex ,an adaptation of the non-fiction book of the same name by Stefan Aust. Wokalek's performance in the film was rewarded with a nomination for the 2009 German Film Awards and a Bambi award as best German actress. The film was chosen as Germany's submission to the 81st Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film, and was already nominated Best Foreign Language Film for the 66th Golden Globe Awards.
In February 2011, Andres Veiel's feature film Wer wenn nicht wir (If Not Us, Who?), in which Lena Lauzemis plays Gudrun Ensslin,won the Alfred Bauer Prize and the Prize of the German Art House Cinemas at the Berlin International Film Festival.
Ensslin also appears as a character in Elfriede Jelinek's Ulrike Maria Stuart.
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.
Ulrike Marie Meinhof was a West German far-left militant. She co-founded the Red Army Faction in 1970, after having worked as a journalist for the monthly left-wing magazine konkret. Meinhof was arrested in 1972, charged with numerous murders and the formation of a criminal association. In 1976, before the trial concluded, Meinhof was found hanged in her prison cell in Stuttgart. The official statement claimed that Meinhof had committed suicide; however, several facts led to public controversy about her death.
Berndt Andreas Baader was one of the first leaders of the West German left-wing militant organization Red Army Faction (RAF), also commonly known as the Baader-Meinhof Group.
Jan-Carl Raspe was a member of the German militant group, the Red Army Faction (RAF).
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.
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.
Barbara Sukowa is a German theatre and film actress. She is known for her work with directors Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Margarethe von Trotta. She won the Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actress for the 1986 film Rosa Luxemburg. Her other film appearances include Lola (1981), Europa (1990), M. Butterfly (1993), and Hannah Arendt (2012). She starred as Katarina Jones in the television series 12 Monkeys (2015–18).
Marianne and Juliane, also called The German Sisters in the United Kingdom, is a 1981 West German film directed by Margarethe von Trotta. The screenplay is a fictionalized account of the true lives of Christiane and Gudrun Ensslin. Gudrun, a member of The Red Army Faction, was found dead in her prison cell in Stammheim in 1977. In the film, Von Trotta depicts the two sisters Juliane (Christine) and Marianne (Gudrun) through their friendship and journey to understanding each other. Marianne and Juliane was von Trotta's third film and solidified her position as a director of the New German Cinema.
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.
Astrid Huberta Isolde Marie Luise Hildegard Proll was an early member of the Red Army Faction.
Stammheim – Die Baader-Meinhof-Gruppe vor Gericht is a 1986 West German film directed by Reinhard Hauff. It tells the story of the trial in the court of Stammheim Prison of the left-wing Baader-Meinhof Group.
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.
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.
Horst Söhnlein is a former German activist convicted of arson in 1968, together with the future member of the Baader-Meinhof Group.
If Not Us, Who? is a 2011 German drama film directed by Andres Veiel and starring August Diehl. The film is set in the late 1940s, the early 1960s, and at the beginning of the Protests of 1968.
Baader is a 2002 German film directed by Christopher Roth. It is a biopic about revolutionary Andreas Baader of the notorious Red Army Faction which operated mainly in West Germany during the 1970s.
The kidnapping and murder of Hanns-Martin Schleyer marked the end of the German Autumn in 1977.
The Journey is a 1986 Swiss-German drama film written and directed by Markus Imhoof.
The Murder of Andreas Baader is a 1978 painting by the Norwegian artist Odd Nerdrum. It depicts the speculative murder of Andreas Baader, one of the leaders of the terrorist organisation Red Army Faction, in the Stammheim Prison in 1977.
18. Oktober 1977 is the title of a series of paintings by Gerhard Richter. It is based on photographs that document the deaths of three leading terrorists of the Baader-Meinhof Group in the Stammheim Prison after the release of the hostages in the hijacking by four members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine of Lufthansa Flight 181. The series shows events from a period of several years, from the capture of the terrorists to their burial. A youth portrait of Ulrike Meinhof occupies a special position.