Raf terror 1977: “german autumn” changes the republic

Raf terror 1977:

The 5. September 1977 is a monday. Employer president hanns martin schleyer died at 17.30 o'clock on the way from the office to his koln apartment. Suddenly a blue baby carriage is parked on the street.

A yellow mercedes pulls out of a driveway. Schleyer's driver hits the brakes hard, the escort vehicle with the three bodyguards catches up with schleyer's car. At the same moment, four RAF terrorists open fire. The driver and the three policemen are shot, the employer's president is dragged out of the car and taken away.

The abduction and the dramatic weeks that follow will go down in the history books as the "german autumn". It is 44 days that change the federal republic.

In the evening, chancellor helmut schmidt (SPD) summons his most important ministers and advisors to the chancellor's office. At 21.30 o'clock he steps in front of the television cameras. In a short speech, he makes it clear that the state must now respond "with all necessary severity": "against terrorism stands not only the will of the state organs, against terrorism stands the will of the entire people."

The kidnappers, the RAF "kommando siegfried hausner," demand the release of eleven RAF terrorists, among them andreas baader, gudrun ensslin, jan-carl raspe and irmgard moller, who are being held in stuttgart-stammheim. On 6. September, shortly before midnight, the "rough crisis staff" meets for the first time with the heads of the security agencies and all parties of the federal parliament. They all agree: the state will not allow itself to be blackmailed.

What follows is a war of nerves lasting weeks, with serious mishaps and an unprecedented turmoil in the state.

On 13. October four palastinian air pirates hijacked the lufthansa plane "landshut" on the flight from palma de mallorca to frankfurt to press the demands of the schleyer hijackers. During a stopover in aden (yemen), flight captain jurgen schumann is assassinated with a shot to the head. The errant flight ends in the somali capital mogadishu. At 18. October, shortly after midnight, the machine is stormed by a task force of the GSG 9. Three of the kidnappers are killed, the 86 hostages are freed.

After the successful action, the relief in bonn is initially great. The chancellor and the crisis staff are counting on the schleyer kidnappers to give up now. But the opposite happens.

The news of the liberation operation in north africa is broadcast on the nighttime radio program. Despite the "contact ban," the prisoners in stammheim learn about it. Already at verhoren they threatened that they are prepared for a suicide as a "decision about us. With the help of some of their lawyers, they have smuggled weapons and explosives into the high security wing.

When, in the early morning of 18. Octobers, a few hours after the liberation operation in mogadishu, around 08.00 o'clock the cells of the prisoners are opened, baader and ensslin are dead, raspe lies dying. Irmgard moller is the only survivor of the night of death on the seventh floor of the prison with stab wounds to the chest.

A day later, on 19. October at 16.9 p.M., the phone rings at the text recording in the stuttgart office of the german press agency. A female voice begins to dictate: "RAF here (…) we have ended after 43 days hanns martin schleyer's accusatory and corrupt existence. Mr. Schmidt (…) can pick him up in the rue charles peguy in mulhausen in a green audi 100 with bad homburger license plates.When asked by an editor if the caller had any proof of the message's authenticity, she replied curtly: "you'll see when you find the car"."

Because of the "news blackout" imposed by the government, it will take hours before the public learns of the bloody end of the mental drama. The discovery site in alsace is widely cordoned off. Finally, the trunk of the audi is opened. In it: hanns Martin Schleyer, assassinated at close range with bullets to the head.

German chancellor angela merkel later named two political consequences of the schleyer kidnapping: the state must not be susceptible to blackmail. And: in comparable situations, government and opposition had to stick together. This is true until today. In the current election campaign, too, merkel and SPD chancellor candidate martin schulz have agreed to keep the fight against terrorism out of it, so as not to jeopardize social unity on this issue.

When the "german autumn" ended, the search results were initially meager. Just nine of the 22 suspected murderers later identified. Nevertheless, RAF expert butz peters in his new standard work ("1977 ? RAF vs. Federal republic") an overall positive balance: "if one summarizes the views of the state at the end of 1977 in a nutshell, the conclusion is: the blood duty was high. But this is the only way to avoid future disaster. The state has passed the challenge."


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