By Joshua Sinai
Perspectives on Terrorism
This pamphlet is an introductory overview of the causes and ideological rationale that led to what is considered the Red Army Faction’s (RAF) most intense year of terrorist activities in West Germany in 1977. As explained in this interesting account, the RAF was established in 1970 and when its leaders, particularly Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof were arrested, followed, some years later, by the suicide of Meinhof in prison (with the authors questioning whether she had committed suicide or had died under different circumstances), the group’s remaining members escalated their militant activities, such as kidnapping on September 5, 1977 of Hanns-Martin Schleyer, “the most powerful businessman in West Germany at the time” who had represented “the ruling class point of view.” (p. 20). Although the pamphlet does not discuss it, Schleyer was subsequently murdered by his kidnappers the following month on October 18. With a new generation of younger activists continuing the RAF’s armed struggle, in 1992 the group declared a unilateral ceasefire and ultimately disbanded in 1998. This pamphlet is intended to provide an overview for the authors’ compendium, The Red Army Faction: A Documentary History – Volume 1 (below).