Baader-Meinhof Gang

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The Baader-Meinhof Group was a small New Left terrorist group based in West Germany which carried out murders and other terror attacks between 1968 and 1998.

Calling itself the Rote Armee Fraktion (Red Army Faction or RAF) it committed 34 murders as well as robberies, bombings and kidnappings. The name Baader-Meinhof Group, often referred to as "Baader-Meinhof Bande" (where "Bande" translates as gang), derives from the names of two leaders, Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof. Both Baader and Meinhof were captured in 1972; after Ulrike Meinhof hanged herself in prison in 1976, members of the RAF still at liberty increased their use of violence, committing the following murders:

  • The West German state prosecutor
  • The head of the Dresdner Bank
  • In 1977 kidnapping (and later killing) Hans Martin Schleyer, head of West Germany's main employers' organization

While Schleyer was still in captivity a group allied to the RAF hijacked a Lufthansa aircraft and flew it to Mogadishu in Somalia. German commandos stormed the aircraft; when news broke in Germany, Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ennslin and another convicted terrorist committed suicide. The kidnappers then murdered Schleyer.

The fall of communism in eastern Europe removed much of the ideological underpinning of the RAF and cut off its support from the East German Stasi; the last act of violence was carried out in 1993. The gang claimed in 1998 to have dissolved itself.

While the Baader-Meinhof Gang claimed to be against Nazism, one of its members became a Neo-Nazi later on: the former co-founder Horst Mahler. [1]

The Baader-Meinhof Group was one of a number of deadly ultra-left terrorist groups that sprang up in Europe in the late 1960s/1970s. In Italy, the Red Brigades carried out a similarly murderous campaign. The sole surviving active group is the November 17 group in Greece, which in 2000 murdered the British military attache in Athens, Brig. Stephen Saunders.