Fritz Rodewald

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Fritz Rodewald (* 1939 in Rössing ; † August 18, 2009 Hanover ) was a German federal board member of the GEW teachers' union . He became known nationwide in June 1972 because the police arrested RAF members Ulrike Meinhof and Gerhard Müller as a result of his tip. For decades, he was attacked from the right as an RAF sympathizer and from the left as a traitor, and at times received death threats from RAF supporters.

Origin and career

Rodewald came from the village of Rössing, which was then in the Springe district and is now part of the Nordstemmen community in the Hildesheim district. In Rössing his father was a farmer and innkeeper. Fritz Rodewald became a supporter of the APO as a youth and left his parents' home because he expected a social revolution . He studied on the second educational path , became a primary school teacher and a member of the SPD and the GEW.

In 1972 Rodewald was the federal chairman of the working group for young teachers in the GEW. At that time he lived with his girlfriend Ulrike Winkelvoss at Walsroder Straße 11 in Langenhagen . He was an opponent of the Vietnam War and often left deserted soldiers of the US Army overnight without asking them their names. This was part of an aid campaign for deserters who wanted to evade military service by fleeing to Sweden .

Circumstances of the arrest of Ulrike Meinhof

On the night of June 14-15, 1972, Brigitte Kuhlmann visited Rodewald and asked him to stay for a few days for two people, without giving their names. Rodewald did not know the supplicant, but said yes and informed her that he would be home the next day at around 6 p.m. Rodewald's friend Ulrike Winkelvoss refused his acceptance because she was afraid that they were RAF terrorists. Rodewald thought that was unlikely, because as a GEW functionary he had repeatedly spoken out against the RAF terror. The two argued about it; Winkelvoss demanded that Rodewald inform the police.

The next day Rodewald first consulted a friend and in the afternoon notified the police, who immediately connected him to the special commission for the RAF and advised him to stay away from his apartment during the day. By the time he got there around 7:45 p.m., the police had already arrested a woman and a man who were armed. The police had already recognized the man as the RAF member Gerhard Müller; the woman was later identified as Ulrike Meinhof on the basis of a legally enforced x-ray.

According to later information from Kuhlmann, Rodewald is said to have explained to her how the apartment door can be opened from the inside through an open glass window. It was clear to him that it was about RAF members. According to historian Wolfgang Kraushaar and Meinhof biographer Jutta Ditfurth , the social philosopher Oskar Negt was the friend who encouraged Rodewald to go to the police. He had advised him not to feel bound by his promise: there was no such thing as “forced solidarity”.

Rodewald denied this and other information handed down in his autobiography as inaccurate: he had not known Ulrike Meinhof, had not been friends with her and had not advised her to face her. He did not give the roommate a key to the apartment. Meinhof had forcibly gained entry himself. He did not consult with Oskar Negt, but with another person. He did not phone the police, but walked to the state criminal investigation office. His aim was not to extradite a left, but to end terrorist violence, which also severely impaired the left's chances.


A few days after June 15, 1972, Rodewald spoke out against hysterical terrorist persecution in a Tagesschau interview. One could also understand the motives of the RAF. He was then attacked as a sympathizer of the RAF. To counter this, his lawyer organized a press conference on June 18, 1972. There Rodewald made it clear that he and his partner had nothing to do with the RAF and did not know that RAF members wanted to stay with them. He did not divulge leftists, but "brought a bloody story to an end without blood." He will probably donate the reward he received for the arrest of Ulrike Meinhof to defend the RAF prisoners, because in the current heated climate they would not have to expect a legal process. That is why Rodewald found himself exposed to increased attacks.

In an interview with Der Spiegel magazine , he affirmed: "I wouldn't say that I gave anyone up, rather I was absolutely in favor of this story coming to an end after everything they did." The potential of weapons and explosives in the hands of the RAF, he felt threatened. The RAF also provided the arguments to defame the entire spectrum of the left.

According to his own account, he donated his reward anonymously to the legal aid association of the RAF Rote Hilfe eV Nonetheless, radical leftists continued to regard him as a “traitor” to a staunch anti-fascist , while conservatives continued to regard him as a RAF supporter. On the advice of the police, the Rodewalds went into hiding for a few months because of their mortal danger and were placed under police protection. However, they turned down an offer to move abroad with a new identity. Rodewald lost his job as a teacher because the school feared attacks. He lost friends and the support of his union. The attempt at a doctorate failed. Because of the continued pressure, his wife temporarily separated from him. He refused the Federal Cross of Merit that he wanted to be awarded.

A few years later, the Hanover University of Education employed Rodewald as an assistant. He was exposed to student protests. At the same time, the CDU government under Ernst Albrecht initiated proceedings against him in order to dismiss him from university and civil service. The university management cited a statement made by Rodewald abroad as a reason: He described censorship as an act of terrorism. The proceedings were discontinued after Rodewald's lawyer had reminded of his role in the arrest of Meinhof and the offer of the Federal Cross of Merit. The criminal police later interrogated him for a whole day as an alleged RAF member. The interrogation protocols were announced in Hanover. - A few years later, he and his wife renewed their partnership. In 2006 a boules association refused to accept it because of its role in the Meinhof arrest.

Processing trials

On December 3, 1999, Rodewald's wife Ulrike died in an accident in Denmark: She was killed by a caravan that was hit by a gust and whirled through the air. Rodewald tried to process his experiences in a volume of poetry and a mourning diary for his deceased wife. The book “I kiss your shadow” was published in 2009. In it he also described the circumstances of Ulrike Meinhof's arrest for the first time, as well as the consequences for himself and his relationship with his wife, including nightmares, paranoia and fears of death, such as an explosive attack when he was left on Car. He was at risk of suicide and only got a new training as a psychotherapist through therapy.

Rodewald died on August 18, 2009 in Hanover of a heart condition shortly after completing his autobiography.


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b Schaumburger Nachrichten, August 26, 2009: Fritz Rodewald died
  2. a b c d Süddeutsche Zeitung, April 28, 2006: The RAF legend of the traitor: pursued by the leaden shadow
  3. Axel Franz (, November 1, 2012): A top terrorist in the sights of the investigators
  4. Jutta Ditfurth: Ulrike Meinhof - The Biography. Ullstein, Berlin 2009, p. 344
  5. ^ Willi Winkler: The history of the RAF. Rowohlt, 2007, ISBN 3871345105 , p. 213
  6. ^ Stefan Aust : The Baader Meinhof Complex. 2nd edition, Goldmann, Munich 2008, p. 263
  7. a b Jutta Ditfurth: Ulrike Meinhof , Berlin 2009, p. 344 f.
  8. a b c d Wolfgang Kraushaar (Die Welt, December 30, 2009): The day on which Ulrike Meinhof rang the bell
  9. ^ Fritz Rodewald: From breaks and jumps: Biographical vignettes. 2011, p. 27 and p. 30
  10. "Our paths parted ways" . In: Der Spiegel . No. 27 , 1972, p. 71 ( online - June 26, 1972 , interview with Fritz Rodewald).