I was wondering how many people remember this rather violent organisation. It is no big deal, I am just curious.
I only remember them in the sense that I’ve read about them. I have an interest in the Cold War and they get referred to fairly regularly.
I recently watched the movie Carlos the Jackal where the organisation and its members are fairly important in the plot. I didn’t think much of the movie to be honest, it was more a disjointed precis of his life than something with a coherent plot I found, although it did have its interesting moments.
edited to add that on a quick scan of that wikipedia page I didn’t realise that the RAF was still active to an extent to such a late date.
I remember them from the time and also more recently from their mentions in recent documentaries and footage of the early days of Krautrock, when some of them were hanging out with the likes of Amon Duul (who I’ve liked for decades… )
I’d not really expect many Americans to remember them, mainly Europeans.
I remember them clearly. I was in my late teens, early twenties when they were in the news. Someone at the time told me I looked like one of them, but otherwise, that’s all I knew of them.
I’ve read of them. A rather more successful and more explicitly Communist version of the Weathermen.
Didn’t it turn out that they and similar groups such as the Japanese Red Army and the Red Brigade in Italy were more or less sponsored by the Soviet Union?
Never heard of a direct tie, no, but if you have some links or sources, I’d love to read about it. Recall that Italy had its own Communist Party at the time and IIRC they considered the Red Brigades to be terrorists - or at the very least, a most embarrassing lose cannon.
I won’t rule out that there may have been some low-level contacts with field agents of the KGB or other state organs of the SU, but AFAIK, not sponsorship. I think the Soviet Politburo recognized that there would be no knowing what these outfits were doing next, nor any way to direct their furious, murderous, activities.
I’m no expert on the area, but my sense has always been that these and similar organizations are closer in spirit and intention to the anarchist bombers of old, than they are any modern communist party or state.
I look forward to hearing if anyone else has more information about the subject.
I remember them and various other terror groups, particularly the IRA. When I was a kid I’d dream the “urban guerrilla” type terrorists were planting bombs in my neighborhood, never mind that I lived in Kentucky, which was hardly a prime target for terrorists. I guess my parents shouldn’t have let me watch the news.
IIRC, Ulrike Meinhof was arrested exactly 40 years ago today.
I had a friend who was on security detail for the Nukes at Geissen, when the raid happened. Said it was an interesting evening, they didn’t get close enough for him to fire a shot. Sounded to me he thought he really missed out, he also spoke of them as amateurish but that could just be thirty year old bravado. This is how I really learned who they were. FWIW
I wasn’t around at the time, but study German language and history, and did quite a bit of research last year on extremism in German during the Cold War. So I’m very familiar with the group. The 2008 film, The Baader-Meinhof Complex, is very well-done and interesting: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0765432/.
mrAru’s boat the Spadefish got a bomb threat from both them and the Red Brigade back in the day. He says that the Bader-Meinhof gang gave them the bomb threat when they were in Bremmerhaven.
It turned out that they were getting some support from certain elements within the Stasi, but for the most part the Eastern Bloc and the underground left-wing extremists weren’t too interested in each other. A major part of the radicals’ ideology was anti-imperialism, and they felt that the Soviets had abandoned true Marx-Leninism and were pursuing an imperialistic policy of their own. The radicals themselves associated themselves more with Mao or Che’s more radically anti-imperialist rhetoric.
For the Soviets’ part, they didn’t really see much to be gained by supporting them-- they were fine with supporting third-world guerrilla movements since if they succeeded they would bring those countries into the Soviet sphere of influence, but it’s not like the RAF was going to bring West Germany into the fold. For that matter, by the 60’s the Eastern Bloc’s economy (such as it was) was hugely dependent on trade with western Europe and so they weren’t going to put that at risk by funding a bunch of agitators.
Knew about them and later studied them in a class on terrorism in the late 80s. I was expecting to learn about the PLO, instead I got them and the Basque groups out of Spain. Fascinating class.
I only learned of them some time after they disbanded.
Vaguely remember hearing about the Red Army Faction as a kid when my dad watched the evening news on TV
First heard the phrase “Baader-Meinhof Gang” in a Monty Python sketch. Didn’t know they were related until years later.
I was in the Army in Germany at the time. They doubled the guard around the ammo dump in case the BMG attacked it.
'Course, they never did. But I did catch a pocket full of toads to release in the guard shack.
The Soviets hated European involvement that was not in their control. While not impossible, I think it unlikely that they would have sponsored by the Soviets.
I knew about them from an '81 trip to Europe where they were all a big deal and occasionally reading about them or the Italian version, the Red Brigade, in the US papers. But I was studying the Cold War in the early 80s. I seem to recall that they considered it an accomplishment to kidnap Moro in Italy and kill people in Germany.
I believe they kidnapped Julio Iglesias’ father or grandfather. I was studying in Spain at the time. A figure in organized crime assisted the authorities in his rescue.
ETA: that was ETA (Basque separatists).
German here; of course I remember them. One of them (Verena Becker, age 59) is currently on trial again.
Saw that a couple of years ago. Good movie, good detail on the gang members, though I don’t know how accurate. They were kind of puzzling to the outside world, they didn’t fit in the mold of of other international terrorist organizations. More like the local revolutionary movements such as the Weather Underground in the US.