The German Autumn is the time and its political atmosphere in the Federal Republic of Germany in September and October 1977, which was marked by attacks by the terrorist organization Red Army Fraction (RAF). The kidnapping and murder of Hanns Martin Schleyer , the kidnapping of the Lufthansa Landshut plane and the suicides of the imprisoned leading members of the first generation of the RAF represented the final act of the so-called Offensive 77 of the RAF. The German autumn is considered to be one of the worst crises in the History of the Federal Republic of Germany .
The term “German Autumn” is derived from the film Germany in Autumn 1978, a collage of several documentaries by eleven directors of the “ New German Film ” who critically examine the state's reaction to terrorism from different perspectives.
Events in the spring and summer of 1977
In 1977 the activities of the so-called second generation of the RAF reached their peak. The events before September are generally not attributed to the German autumn.
On April 7, 1977 in Karlsruhe on were Ulrike Meinhof Commando of the federal prosecutor Siegfried Buback , his driver Wolfgang Göbel and the head shot of the car service of the federal prosecutor Georg Wurster in a motorbike in their car.
On July 30, 1977, the spokesman for the board of Dresdner Bank AG Jürgen Ponto was murdered. The RAF member Susanne Albrecht was personally acquainted with the banker, so that he received her in his private house on Oberhöchstadter Strasse in Oberursel . Susanne Albrecht, Brigitte Mohnhaupt and Christian Klar appeared in Ponto's villa to kidnap him. When Ponto defended himself, Klar and Mohnhaupt shot Ponto several times and hit him fatally. Then Mohnhaupt, Klar and Albrecht fled with the car driven by Peter-Jürgen Boock .
On August 25, 1977, an attack on the Federal Prosecutor's Office building in Karlsruhe failed.
Course of autumn 1977
On September 5, 1977, the employer's president Hanns Martin Schleyer was attacked and kidnapped in Cologne , killing his driver and three police officers. The kidnappers demanded the release of 11 captured RAF members.
Since the federal government - unlike the kidnapping of Peter Lorenz two years earlier - was not prepared to exchange prisoners, terrorists of the PFLP , allied with the RAF, tried to put pressure on by hijacking the Lufthansa plane "Landshut" on October 13, 1977 increase. After the plane's odyssey through the Arab world and the murder of the pilot, Captain Jürgen Schumann , the terrorists landed at Mogadishus airport , the capital of East African Somalia . Here the aircraft was stormed by GSG 9 on October 18 at around 00:30 . At 12:38 a.m., a special report came from Deutschlandfunk that “all hostages have been freed. At this hour we do not yet know whether there were dead or injured among them… ”. The 86 hostages were released unharmed.
Shortly afterwards, on the night of October 17-18, 1977, the night of Stammheim's death , the RAF terrorists Andreas Baader , Gudrun Ensslin and Jan-Carl Raspe, imprisoned in Stuttgart-Stammheim , committed suicide . Irmgard Möller, who was also imprisoned in Stammheim, survived with four knife stabs in the heart area.
In response to the storming of the “Landshut” plane, Hanns Martin Schleyer was shot by his kidnappers. His body was found on the evening of October 19 in Mulhouse , Alsace.
Sociopolitical atmosphere during the German Autumn
The term “German Autumn” also stands for the atmosphere in West Germany and West Berlin in the autumn of 1977. After the arrest of the first generation of the RAF in 1972, many believed that the chapter on left-wing terrorism was now closed. However, it turned out that the RAF had produced a second generation. Thanks to the sympathetic lawyers, such as Klaus Croissant and Siegfried Haag , who were later convicted , the RAF succeeded in recruiting new underground fighters. In addition, the lawyers provided the left-wing scene, but also the media, with constant news about the imprisoned members of the first generation. There was talk of solitary confinement and the status of prisoner of war was demanded for the prisoners . Between 1972 and 1977 there had been six hunger strikes in which up to 90 prisoners took part. Holger Meins died in 1974 as a result of a hunger strike. From 1975 there was a new series of attacks. These events polarized. The RAF terror was now a dominant topic for the media. New tactical police methods, including the grid search , had led to some successes, but also included many bystanders in the search process. Roadblocks, identity checks and heavily armed police officers were part of the street scene. Fear of new attacks was widespread.
The left-wing scene, but also large sections of social democratic and liberal circles, on the other hand, felt that their basic rights were threatened by the new laws and wanted to deal ideologically with the RAF. Many of these groups and people who asked about the causes of terrorism were accused of lacking distance from the RAF and were attacked as sympathizers of the terrorists . In April 1977, the Federal Minister of the Interior at the time, in a speech to the Interior and Legal Affairs Committee of the Bundestag, demanded a
“Dissolidarization campaign against the very considerable supporter or at least sympathizer scene of the RAF. This is the water these fish swim in. Furthermore, they swim in the water of a crowd that does not really draw the line very clearly. "
At the beginning of 1972, Heinrich Böll , who later won the Nobel Prize for Literature, had his plea in Spiegel magazine Will Ulrike Grace or safe conduct? published, in which he dealt critically but objectively with the motives of the RAF and sharply criticized the sensational journalism of the Bild-Zeitung in this context. The violent public reaction to this misunderstood Böll's intentions, from then on he was widely regarded as a "sympathizer" of terror, which was probably reinforced by the title falsified by the Spiegel - the apparently familiar address "Ulrike" did not appear in Böll's original text . As a reaction to the following extremely negative reporting, especially by the Springer media, he published the story Die Lost Ehre der Katharina Blum in 1974 , which was conceived as a combative criticism of sensational journalism in connection with left-wing terrorism. This led to a further hardening of the journalistic fronts .
On April 25, 1977, an anonymous student from Göttingen University, the so-called Göttinger Mescalero , published a text in the then student newspaper Göttinger Nachrichten under the title “Buback - an obituary”, in the introduction of which he stated a “secret joy” about the The death of the assassinated Federal Prosecutor Siegfried Buback “not to be able to conceal” in order to criticize the RAF's strategy of violence as a way into a dead end, despite the sympathy for the content of the RAF's goals. Above all, the introductory passage became known, after which the text was banned. In order to protest against this, the text with an introductory introduction and the signature of 48 university professors was reprinted several times and demonstratively published in various critical media, which led to over 140 criminal charges against the editors and the publishing professors, who were ultimately all acquitted.
The parties also got into fierce arguments in the German autumn. The CDU / CSU opposition suspected the ruling social-liberal SPD / FDP coalition under Helmut Schmidt (SPD) to be ideologically close to the terrorists. The coalition, for its part, accused the opposition of hysterical overreactions and insinuated that it was taking the opportunity to turn the Federal Republic into a police state .
Despite these contradictions, at the beginning of the Schleyer kidnapping, Chancellor Schmidt convened the so-called Great Crisis Team , to which members of all parliamentary groups in the German Bundestag belonged. The historian Wolfgang Kraushaar later described this period as a "non-declared state of emergency ". One result of the bipartisan consensus was the Contact Blocking Act passed in autumn 1977 , which created the possibility of a ban on contact for prisoners. This ban on contact also referred to discussions with lawyers. In addition, the Code of Criminal Procedure was changed so that a defendant could nominate a maximum of three defense counsel. As early as 1976, Criminal Code created the criminal offense “ formation of terrorist organizations ”.
- Ulf G. Stuberger : The days of Stammheim - as an eyewitness to the RAF trial. Herbig-Verlag, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-7766-2528-8 .
- Ulf G. Stuberger: In the criminal case against Andreas Baader, Ulrike Meinhof, Jan-Carl Raspe, Gudrun Ensslin for murder and the like. a. - Documents from the process. European Publishing House, Hamburg 2007, ISBN 978-3-434-50607-2 .
Klaus Pflieger : The "Spindy" campaign, the kidnapping of the employer president Dr. Hanns-Martin Schleyer. Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft, Baden-Baden 1997, ISBN 3-7890-4598-5 .
- again in: Klaus Pflieger: The Red Army Fraction - RAF - May 14, 1970 to April 20, 1998. Nomos-Verlag, Baden-Baden, 3rd expanded and updated edition. 2011, ISBN 978-3-8329-5582-3 .
- Klaus Pflieger: Against Terrorism - Memories of a Public Prosecutor. Verrai, Stuttgart, 2016, ISBN 978-3-9818041-4-0 .
- Statements by the RAF from September 5 to October 18, 1977 ( Memento of March 12, 2007 in the Internet Archive ).
- A German autumn. Conditions 1977. By Tatjana Botzat , Elisabeth Kiderlen and Frank Wolff . ISBN 3-8015-0315-1 .
- Stefan Aust : The Baader Meinhof complex. Hoffmann and Campe, Hamburg 1985, 667 pages, ISBN 3-455-08253-X (expanded and updated: 1997, ISBN 3-455-11230-7 ; paperback edition 1998, ISBN 3-442-12953-2 ; completely revised and supplemented New edition 2008, ISBN 978-3-455-50029-5 ).
- Literary processing: Thomas Hoeps : work on contradiction. "Terrorism" in German novels and short stories (1837–1992). Dresden 2001, ISBN 3-933592-24-0 .
- Peter Graf Kielmansegg : After the disaster. A history of divided Germany. Siedler Verlag, Berlin 2000, ISBN 3-88680-329-5 , p. 338ff.
- Oliver Tolmein , Detlef zum Winkel: Nix gathered - 10 years of German autumn and the conservatism of the left. Konkret-Literatur-Verlag, Hamburg 1987, ISBN 3-922144-66-7 .
- The German Autumn, 1977. In Karrin Hanshew: Terror and Democracy in West Germany. Cambridge University, Cambridge 2012, ISBN 978-1-107-01737-5 , pp. 192-236.
- Germany in Autumn - various short films and short reports by several directors of the New German Film , Federal Republic of Germany 1978, directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder , Volker Schlöndorff , Alexander Kluge , Edgar Reitz and others
- Death Game - two-part television documentary drama (part 1: People's prison , part 2: The kidnapping of the Landshut ), Germany 1997, directed by Heinrich Breloer
- Der Deutsche Herbst - Documentation on BR-alpha , 2005
- Mogadischu - TV adaptation, Germany 2008, director: Roland Suso Richter
- The Baader Meinhof Complex - cinema and TV documentary, Germany 2008, director: Uli Edel, screenplay and production: Bernd Eichinger
- The lawyers - a German story - documentary film, Germany 2009, director: Birgit Schulz
- The German Autumn ( Memento from April 18, 2016 in the Internet Archive ), special from the Frankfurter Rundschau
- Bloody German Autumn 1977 on wdr.de - with further information, photos and film material on the subject
- Information on the subject at museumsmagazin.com
- Abduction of the employer president Schleyer at geschichte.nrw.de
- There was no doubt that it would have been inhuman - conversation about the “German Autumn” with the former Federal Minister of Justice Hans-Jochen Vogel , Spiegel online, September 19, 2007.
- Die Welt, April 4, 2007, The murderous "Offensive 77" began at Easter .
- quoted from: Autonomy . No. 12, 9/78, p. 120.
- Buback obituary with introductory text and signatures of the 48 professors
- Peter Graf Kielmansegg : After the disaster. A history of divided Germany. Berlin 2000, ISBN 3-88680-329-5 , p. 342.