Peter Urbach

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Peter Urbach (* 2. May 1941 in Poznan , † 3. May 2011 in Santa Barbara , California , USA ), called "S-Bahn-Peter" was an undercover agent and agent provocateur of the Berlin intelligence service in the late 1960s .

Urbach was a trained Adjuster or pipe layers, often his profession is also falsely with Plumbers specified. He was in the leftist student scene of the 1960s than helpful craftsmen and led work in residential communities like the community I carried. In this way he gained the trust of leading members of the student movement, including Dieter Kunzelmann , Fritz Teufel and Rainer Langhans . Urbach played a much-criticized role as an unsolicited provider and distributor of weapons to people on the left-wing scene: it has been proven that he delivered Molotov cocktails , at least one firearm and several high explosive and incendiary bombs . Several offers and active preparations for the procurement of larger quantities of firearms are documented, but no case of an actual handover is known. One of his bombs was used for an attempted attack on the Jewish community center in West Berlin on November 9, 1969 , which was not known until 2005.

Andreas Baader , Horst Mahler and Bommi Baumann , who co-founded the left-wing extremist terrorist organizations Red Army Faction (RAF) and Movement 2 June in the early 1970s, were also interested in and buyers of his deliveries . In 1970, Urbach gave the decisive clue for Baader's first arrest and testified in 1971 as an undercover agent in a trial against Mahler, which made his work for the Office for the Protection of the Constitution widely known. The Office for the Protection of the Constitution got him a new identity. Urbach went out of the country. Until his death in May 2011, which only became known in March 2012, nothing was known about his further life and whereabouts afterwards.

The RAF researcher Wolfgang Kraushaar described Urbach as the best example of an intelligence agency influence on the radical left scene. There were still no statements from the authorities involved at the time and the public was "simply left hanging" on this matter, as in a number of similar cases. The historian Gerd Koenen described Urbach's disappearance by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution as “perhaps the greatest scandal of its kind in the history of the old Federal Republic”.

Bombs, 50 pistols and a weapons depot in the cemetery

Molotov cocktails for protesters

Urbach was best known for his involvement in a demonstration in front of the Springer Group building on April 11, 1968, which took place in response to the assassination attempt on Rudi Dutschke : he supplied the demonstrators with around a dozen ready-to-ignite Molotov cocktails from a large wicker basket . He also showed the demonstrators how cars could be turned over in such a way that the gasoline ran out of the tank. This led to the violent escalation of the demonstration and the burning down of several of the publisher's delivery vans. The events became known as the Easter riots and are still among the most serious riots in the history of the Federal Republic. The photos of the burning trucks went through the newspapers as evidence of the violence of the Berlin students.

Pistols for the revolution

Almost a year later, in February 1969, he offered Herrmann von Rohde, a co-founder of the newly created editorial office of the Rote Presse Korrespondenz (RPK), allegedly stolen Beretta pistols to the police in bulk: “I have a box with 50 pistols. If the uprising breaks out, we have to be armed ”. In February / March 1969, a Berlin SDS group that had organized itself in the INFI planned a trip to Italy in order to establish relations there for Greek anti-fascists who wanted to initiate a guerrilla focus against the military dictatorship in their country . Urbach found out about this and also offered material for this purpose that he could contribute in Italy.

Arms procurement in Italy and Belgium

In 1969 and 1970, Urbach went on several weapon procurement trips to Italy and Belgium with Horst Mahler and others, including some Berlin SDS members, as later court proceedings revealed. However, there are different representations of the details of these trips. Political scientist Günter Langer doubted the facts about these trips presented in the proceedings by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution and commented:

"Apparently from him [Urbach] the later published version of the protection of the constitution comes from the alleged intention of wanting to get arms in Italy for the establishment of the RAF. However, Urbach's clients themselves did not really believe in the story, because even after the report was published with the full names of some of the parties involved, neither the police nor the public prosecutor's office took any action, preliminary proceedings were never opened in this matter, although they are otherwise not exactly lazy in this regard were."

There are no indications that weapons were actually procured during these trips.

Bombs for the Nixon visit

US President Nixon (center) in Berlin in February 1969. Off the official route of his limousine, an Urbach bomb was deposited on scaffolding at the Kreuzberg patent office, but it did not ignite.

Urbach also delivered twelve explosive devices with time detonators on the occasion of the short visit of American President Richard Nixon on February 27, 1969 in Berlin. He distributed them through the “ Republican Club ” in Wielandstrasse, a main meeting place for the left-wing scene in Berlin, and in the Communard scene. Explosive devices of this series were found shortly afterwards during searches in the communities supplied. Georg von Rauch and Michael Baumann, both later members of the Central Council of the Wandering Hash Rebels , had deposited one of the bombs off the official route on scaffolding at the Berlin branch of the German Patent Office in Berlin-Kreuzberg . The bomb failed, however, because of a broken ignition cable - a fault like the one most of the bombs supplied by Urbach had. Baumann and von Rauch then dismantled them the following night and deposited them in the Wielandkommune refrigerator. There was speculation about whether the Office for the Protection of the Constitution deliberately built in this error to prevent the bombs from exploding - at the same time it was pointed out that this error could have been easily corrected.

Arms for the Baader Group

Berlin's Senator for the Interior at the time, Neubauer (left, 1977): "Employees [of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution] must be able to adapt to the habits of the group they are observing."

In this early phase of militant actions by left groups, Urbach was readily available as a main supplier of Molotov cocktails, incendiary or explosive devices, and firearms from 1967–1970. According to the statement of the RAF co-founder Horst Mahler, Urbach had also unsolicited a Browning 9 mm pistol and ammunition for him.

In a statement in court, Urbach stated that he and an accomplice had buried weapons in a cemetery in Berlin-Buckow so that the group around Andreas Baader (the nucleus of the later RAF) could find them there. This was later confirmed by Berlin's Senator for the Interior, Kurt Neubauer, in an interview with Der Spiegel and justified with the statement:

“The work of a State Office for the Protection of the Constitution can only be carried out if its employees are also able to adapt to the habits of the group they are observing. Of course, this also puts the man in a position to observe criminal acts or the temptation to participate in them. Otherwise it is not possible for intelligence agents who are supposed to prevent criminal acts. "

Neubauer denied in June 1971 that the buried weapons came directly from the Berlin Office for the Protection of the Constitution.

The bomb in the Jewish community center

Former Jewish community center in Berlin. According to the police, the unexploded bomb from Urbach would have completely destroyed the building in which around 250 people were staying at the planned time of the explosion.

It was only in 2005 that a book by the historian Wolfgang Kraushaar revealed that Urbach had also delivered the bomb for the attempted assassination attempt on the Jewish community center in Berlin by the Tupamaros West Berlin on November 9, 1969. The only reason the bomb had not exploded was because of an old primer, the time fuse had triggered. According to a report at the time by the explosives experts of the Berlin police who detonated a replica, the bomb delivered by Urbach "tore up the house" and claimed many victims among the 250 participants in the commemorative event for the November pogroms . Among those present were Berlin Mayor Klaus Schütz and the chairman of the Jewish community, Heinz Galinski . According to statements by the bomber Albert Fichter , however, the explosive device was not suitable for triggering an explosion. The Berlin authorities knew the names of the perpetrators by the " hash rebels " Bodo Saggel , extending from the anti-Semitic wanted to dissociate action and testified to the prosecutor on 5 December 1969th However, to the amazement of the police officers involved, the prosecution did not bring charges. The prosecutor responsible at the time did not want to comment on the events in 2005 either. According to an attempt to explain the unusual process, Urbach's role would also have become known in a court case, which the authorities wanted to prevent. Wolfgang Kraushaar estimates that it would have meant a great loss of reputation for the Federal Republic if the state had been involved in the attack.

Interrogation in the trial against Irene Goergens, Horst Mahler and Ingrid Schubert

Urbach testified on May 5, 1971 in the criminal trial against Irene Goergens , Mahler and Ingrid Schubert , who were accused of aiding and abetting the freeing of Andreas Baader . In need of evidence against Mahler, the public prosecutor introduced Urbach as a witness shortly before the end of the trial. Even before the start of the trial on March 1, 1971, the Interior Senator Neubauer had declared in October 1970 that he was aiming for a "capital punishment" of Mahler. If necessary, “V-men will be sent into the field”. Neubauer later distanced himself from this statement, which was only "the conclusion of a journalist from our conversation". Neubauer had only given Urbach a very limited permission to testify about events that had taken place on three specific days. He declined the request of the presiding judge Friedrich Geus to extend the permission to testify. During the trial, Urbach replied to detailed questions from Mahler's defense attorney Otto Schily about his arms and bomb deliveries and his personal involvement in criminal offenses that he was not allowed to answer them.

Exposure, new identity and a sign of life

Urbach's work for the protection of the constitution has long been considered an open secret. After Baader was arrested on April 4, 1970, about which he had given the decisive information, he was finally exposed as an informant and from then on was considered extremely endangered. After his testimony in the Mahler trial, Urbach disappeared from the public. Until his death became known in 2012, it was suspected that the Office for the Protection of the Constitution had enabled him to live under a new identity in North or South America. Until then, nothing was known about his further life and his subsequent whereabouts. With the news of his death, it was also announced that he apparently lived in California under his real name, i.e., contrary to long-held suspicions, had not been given a new identity.

Years after Urbach's disappearance, the ex-communard Rainer Langhans tried to get in touch with him about a film project. A corresponding request to the State Office for the Protection of the Constitution promptly led to a phone call by the wanted person. Urbach said to Langhans, with whom he had always had a special relationship, that he could not speak. The conversation ended with the sentence: “Rainer, if you only knew!” Between 1971 and 2012 this was the only information that came to the public.

Reported death in 2011

In March 2012, Der Spiegel reported that Urbach died on May 3, 2011 in California. Accordingly, after a stopover in Wuppertal in 1971, he left for the USA with his wife and two sons. First financially supported by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, he is said to have worked as a pipelayer, including building the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant . He went into several marriages in the USA.

Willi Winkler ended an article on Urbach's death in the Süddeutsche with the statement:

“(...) One would like to know more, for example about how the state organs are now about the policy of the former Interior Senator, also about what other dubious means were used to allegedly fight terror groups like the RAF. Urbach won't tell anymore, he's dead now. If it's true. "

A few days after the Spiegel report it became known that it was based on an obituary in the local newspaper Santa Maria Times in his last place of residence, Santa Maria . Accordingly, the mirror would have received confirmation of death from Urbach's wife and one of his sons. The announcement about the appearance of the obituary was originally brought to Rainer Langhans via a British writer, who in turn informed the Spiegel. According to the obituary, Urbach died in a hospital in the city of Santa Barbara after a prolonged illness .


The mirror

In 1971, Der Spiegel suspected that supplying the radical left scene with weapons and bombs was related to Urbach's work for the protection of the constitution.

Stefan Aust

Stefan Aust wrote in Der Baader-Meinhof-Complex about the role of the protection of the constitution in Urbach's delivery of the Molotov cocktails to the anti-Springer demonstrators in 1968: “The 'devilish plan' [of which a radio reporter had spoken in view of the burning Springer delivery vans ] was not invented by the anti-Springer demonstrators. He came from a completely different, higher position. "

Willi Winkler

The SZ journalist and author Willi Winkler ( Die Geschichte der RAF ) made a similar statement in an interview in 2006:

“There was this agent provocateur, Peter Urbach, who was already working in Commune I. The police leadership, in particular the Berlin Senator for the Interior, Neubauer , had an interest in finding objective evidence of the students' violence, which did not succeed for a long time. The students had no weapons, they were pacifist until Urbach handed them the Molotov cocktails. Urbach also supplied Mahler, who as a lawyer had unsuccessfully applied for a gun license, a gun. This is how you criminalize your opponent, that's how you build him up. In the Berlin police, there were, again, research results from Fichter , plenty of members of the armed forces who were deployed on the eastern front in the fight against partisans . They now attacked the students. "

In 2007 Winkler said:

“In terms of police tactics, it must be said that Mr. Urbach was very successful. However, the scene that was to be criminalized according to this masterly plan became too big in the end. I suspect that the Interior Senator said to himself afterwards: 'I just meant well.' "

Gerd Koenen

The historian Gerd Koenen contradicted this reading. He also described the fact that Urbach was later taken out of the country by the Berlin Office for the Protection of the Constitution and given a new identity as one of the “most incredible scandals of the Federal Republic of Germany”. At the same time, Koenen criticized how almost all of those involved at the time " want to issue a clean bill of health through this super agent ". After it became known in 2005 that Urbach had also delivered the bomb for the attack on the Jewish community hall by the Tupamaros West Berlin, Koenen intensified his criticism of the protection of the constitution:

“The role of the secret service agent Peter Urbach in this story - which is in reality that of his commanding officers and superiors - may often have been overstated. The bombs he delivered usually didn't work. The weapons that will soon be circulating in the scene are said not to have come from him. But do you know that exactly, and isn't what you know just an excerpt? [...] Or does one have to assume that the ex-agent Urbach has been paid a kind of hush money from public funds over the years - and is perhaps still paid to this day - so that he does not name who is actually responsible? [...] What is in the dark and all the more disturbing is the other side of the silence that surrounds this perhaps largest scandal of its kind in the history of the old Federal Republic. "

Wolfgang Kraushaar

The political scientist and RAF researcher Wolfgang Kraushaar concluded in an interview in 2010 that Western and Eastern secret services are still the great unknown in the emergence and development of German and international terrorism . The best example of the secret service influence on the radical left scene is still the only partially clarified role of Urbach:

"If research fails to shed light on the various interfaces between secret services and terrorist organizations, then the historical representation - such as that of the RAF - will remain highly inadequate."

At the same time, however, he emphasized that, in his opinion, the RAF and other German terrorist groups could not be reduced to " elements remotely controlled by secret services ". Similar to Koenen, he judged this thesis to be a convenient relief strategy for the underground actors at the time that would not work.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b c Disappeared agent of the Berlin Office for the Protection of the Constitution died in the USA . In: Der Spiegel , March 18, 2012. Retrieved March 19, 2012
  2. a b c d e f Obituary: Peter Urbach (1941 - 2011). Santa Maria Times, May 7, 2011
  3. a b Willi Winkler : V-Mann Peter Urbach is said to be dead. Süddeutsche Zeitung, March 18, 2012
  4. a b c d e f g h i j Gerd Koenen: Rainer, if you only knew! The attack on the Jewish community on November 9, 1969 has now been solved - almost. What was the role of the state? In: Berliner Zeitung , July 6, 2005.
  5. ^ A b Marcus Klöckner: The RAF and the secret services. Interview with Wolfgang Kraushaar. Telepolis, November 10, 2010.
  6. a b Stefan Aust: The Baader Meinhof complex. P. 72, Goldmann, 1998, ISBN 3-442-12953-2
  7. Ulrich Chaussy: The three lives of Rudi Dutschke. A biography. P. 253, ISBN 3-472-86576-8
  8. Jürgen Serke , Michael Seufert, Walter Unger: The Senator's informer. In: Stern No. 23, 1971, p. 36.
  9. ^ A b Günter Langer: The Berlin Blues - Tupamaros and roaming hash rebels between madness and understanding. In: Che Shah Shit - The sixties. Years between Cocktail and Molotov. Elefanten Press, Berlin (West) 1984 (editors: E. Siepmann, I. Lusk, J. Holtfreter, M. Schmidt, G. Dietz), p. 196 and 199
  10. ^ A b Attorney Horst Mahler: Statement on the application for a ban against the NPD, addressed to the BVerfG, 2nd Senate. ( Memento of December 3, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 3.6 MB), p. 31, August 30, 2002
  11. Michael Baumann: How it all started. ISBN 3-86789-000-5 , p. 53.
  12. a b Wolfgang Kraushaar: Sixty-eight and the beginnings of West German terrorism. ( Memento from May 12, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) In: Insights and Perspectives - Bavarian Journal for Politics and History, 01/2008.
  13. Willi Winkler: A ZEIT conversation with ex-terrorist Horst Mahler about apo, the path to terror and reconciliation with the Basic Law. Die Zeit No. 19, May 2, 1997, quoted from
  14. a b c d Certainly, the weapons were there . In: Der Spiegel . No. 24 , 1971, p. 79–81 ( online - June 7, 1971 , interview with the Berlin Senator for the Interior, Neubauer, about the appearance of V-Mann Urbach as a witness).
  15. ^ Wolfgang Kraushaar: The bomb in the Jewish parish hall. Hamburger Edition, 2005, p. 248f. ISBN 3-936096-53-8 .
  16. Markus Mohr / Hartmut Rübner: 'The enemy is clear' October 15, 2005
  17. a b Gerhard Mauz : Let's just say strawberry tarts . In: Der Spiegel . No. 21 , 1971, p. 86-89 ( Online - May 17, 1971 ).
  18. ^ David Ensikat: Bombs for the SDS. Obituary for Peter Urbach. Tagesspiegel, Berlin, March 23, 2012
  19. Michael Angele: They kissed and they hit him. Interview with Willi Winkler. ( Memento from June 4, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) Netzeitung, February 10, 2006.
  20. Malte Welding: The history of the RAF. Interview with Willi Winkler., October 16, 2007
  21. Gerd Koenen: Vesper, Ensslin, Baader , 2003, p. 257, ISBN 3-596-15691-2 .