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27 October 1977, Stuttgart - "Gudrun, Andreas and Jan - tortured and murdered in Stammheim" reads the sign held by these mourners at the funeral of Gudrun Ensslin, Andreas Baader, and Jan-Carl Raspe in Stuttgart's Waldfriedhof Cemetery.



January, Stuttgart

Irmgard Möller is transferred to the high security wing of Stammheim Prison, where she joins Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin, Jan-Carl Raspe, and Ingrid Schubert.

Mid-January, Stuttgart

Presiding Judge Theodor Prinzing is finally removed on appeal from the trial after 84 previously unsuccessful appeals by Baader-Meinhof lawyers. One of the lawyers had proven that Prinzing was feeding information about the trial to the Appeals Court judge who would ultimately hear any appeals to the case.

February, Hamburg

Baader-Meinhof member Kay Werner Allnach is convicted of membership in a criminal gang. Because of the lack of other evidence, Allnach is spared conviction on greater charges.

16 March, Stuttgart

It is revealed publicly that the state had previously installed bugs in seven of the cells used by Baader-Meinhof prisoners. The state claims that the bugs were only briefly used twice. Few believe it.

29 March, Stuttgart

Raspe, Baader, and Ensslin make their final appearance in court. Manfred Künzel, Ensslin's court-appointed lawyer, elects to resign the case, citing the bugging incident.

7 April, Karlsruhe

Federal Prosecutor General Siegfried Buback is murdered, along with two others, near his home in Karlsruhe. "The Ulrike Meinhof Commando" claims responsibility in a communiqué delivered a few days later to Frankfurt office of the German Press Agency.

21 April, Stuttgart

The final day of testimony for the Baader-Meinhof trial.

28 April, Stuttgart

The verdict is read. Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin, and Jan-Carl Raspe are found guilty of four murders and over 30 counts of attempted murder. Each defendant is sentenced to life imprisonment. After almost two years, 192 actual days of testimony, and at a cost of over 15 million dollars, the trial is over.

7 April, Karlsruhe - Federal Prosecutor General Siegfried Buback is murdered along with two others.

May, Stuttgart

Stammheim Prison prepares its high security wing to accept other Baader-Meinhof prisoners from around the Federal Republic. The plan is to provide a super-high security prison environment where all of the terrorists can be permanently segregated from the other prisoners. During construction in the cell block, Baader and Raspe manage to "borrow" several tools capable of burrowing into concrete and patching it up later.

Late June, Stuttgart

Three Red Army Faction prisoners arrive at Stammheim from a Hamburg prison, joining Baader, Ensslin, Raspe, Schubert, and Möller. Later, Verena Becker, who is actually a member of Movement 2 June, joins them as well.

30 July, Oberursel - Susanne Albrecht and others raid the home of Jürgen Ponto, chairman of Desdener Bank, and kill him.


30 July, Oberursel

Susanne Albrecht, born of wealthy, well-connected parents, pays a visit to the home of Jürgen Ponto, a friend of her father's and chairman of the Dresdener Bank. Albrecht, Brigitte Mohnhaupt, and an unidentified man, shoot Ponto five times, killing him.

Early August, Sensbechtal

At a memorial service for Ponto, attended by most of the biggest names in German industry, Hanns-Martin Schleyer, President of the Employers Association and board member of Daimler-Benz, ruefully notes, "the next victim of terrorism is almost certainly standing in this room now."

25 August, Karlsruhe

Members of the so-called "Second Generation of the RAF" build a rocket launcher and take over an apartment directly across the Federal Prosecutor's Office in Karlsruhe. The device does not go off as planned, sparing dozens of lives. Later, in court, the builder of the rocket, Peter-Jürgen Boock, claims that he had a change of heart after seeing all of the innocent office workers that he knew would die at his hands. Boock claims that he deliberately tampered with the timer to prevent the rocket barrage from taking place; the court does not believe him.

5 September, Cologne

Hanns-Martin Schleyer, who made the prophetic statement at Ponto's memorial the previous month, is kidnapped from his car, despite the protection of three police officers. Officers Reinhold Brändle, Roland Pieler, and Helmut Ulmer are killed, along with Schleyer's chauffeur, Heinz Marcisz. All of Schleyer's kidnappers escape. This is the first day of what would later be called "the German Autumn."

6 September, Wiesbaden

A letter addressed "To the Federal Government" is left in the mailbox of a Protestant dean in Wiesbaden. Inside is a photograph of Schleyer and a note: "The Siegfried Hausner Commando took prisoner the President of the Employers Association and the Federation of German Industry, Hanns-Martin Schleyer." The note demands "the release of Red Army Faction prisoners Baader, Ensslin, Raspe, Verena Becker, Werner Hoppe, Karl-Heinz Dellwo, Hanne-Elise Krabbe, Bern Rössner, Ingrid Schubert, and Irmgard Möller." The note demands that the prisoners be allowed to fly to the country of their choosing, along with 100,000 DM each. Accompanying the letter is a handwritten note from Schleyer. "I have been told that if investigations continue, my life is in danger. The same would apply if the demands are not met and the ultimatums observed. However, the decision is not mine. --Hanns Martin Schleyer." The white Volkswagen Minibus used in the kidnapping is found in the parking garage of the Wiener Weg apartments in Cologne.

WATCH VIDEO Hanns-Martin Schleyer speaks in this first video released by the RAF during his captivity. See other Schleyer captivity videos.

7 September, Wiesbaden

The kidnappers are sent a message from Horst Herold, commissioner of the BKA. He wants further proof of that Schleyer is alive; the kidnappers comply by sending a tape of Schleyer giving answers to personal questions. The kidnappers transfer Schleyer to an apartment in Erfstadt-Liblar (about 30 minutes outside of Cologne), which had been rented the previous month by Monika Helbing, for the purpose of hiding Schleyer. Other messages by Schleyer are delivered later in the day to two different Protestant church figures. The BKA goes on TV at midnight and addresses the kidnappers.

8 September 1977, Wiesbaden

The BKA again addresses the kidnappers through the mass media; but because of their experiences with the Peter Lorenz kidnapping in 1975, they are reluctant to continue doing so. They want to prevent another situation where kidnappers have an open soapbox to preach from, so they press for the kidnappers to name an intermediary to negotiate with.

10 September, Geneva

The German government hires Swiss Lawyer Denis Payot to become an intermediator. Two months later he would be paid 200,000 SF for his work. Payot holds a televised press conference to establish his credentials for the kidnappers. He is called by a member of the Red Army Faction later that evening. The kidnapper demands that one of his imprisoned comrades is to appear on television and state that the preparations for their flight from Germany are underway. Payot dutifully passes on to Bonn the kidnappers' demands.

12 September, Wiesbaden

The BKA instructs Payot to inform the kidnappers that the BKA will hand out questionnaires to the prisoners, asking if they want to leave prison, and if so, which country they want to be flown to.

12 September, Stuttgart

The BKA sends Alfred Klaus to give the Stammheim prisoners their questionnaires. The preferred destinations listed by the imprisoned terrorists run the gamut from Vietnam, to Algeria, to Libya. The government begins exploratory talks with the governments of Libya and Algeria, to see if they will be willing to take the prisoners.

Back at Stammheim, prison officials grow concerned about the forbidden communication between prisoners and begin putting large pads outside the cell doors to prevent the prisoners from talking to each other at night. Unbeknownst to the prison officials, the prisoners have jury-rigged an ingenious electronic "phone" system already. Using a power circuit that connected each cell, but which is turned off for 23 hours of the day, the prisoners modified smuggled radios to send their conversations along the unused wire. They would talk to each other late into the night.

13-21 September, Wiesbaden

The BKA, through Denis Payot, spends as much time as possible stalling the kidnappers, dragging out the details of the escape flight for the prisoners. The kidnappers grow impatient.

6 September 1977, Cologne - RAF kidnappers release this picture of Hanns-Martin Schleyer as proof that Schleyer had been kidnapped.

Late September, Wiesbaden

The Federal Republic passes a special law that allows judges to enforce a strict contact ban between convicted terrorists, and anyone else that the judge sees fit. Normally laws in Germany take many months, or even years, to pass; this law took about a week. Only three members of the Bundestag vote against it.

The BKA steps up its "private" investigation (it could not carry out an aggressive public investigation for fear of upsetting the kidnappers). Thousands of police are sent to major telephone switching hubs and to post offices to intercept likely terrorist communication. The most extensive phone tapping operation in German history, and perhaps anywhere, is put in place.

25 September, Wiesbaden

The BKA tells the kidnappers that Libya and South Yemen have refused to accept the prisoners, but they have yet to receive a response from Vietnam.

27 September, Stuttgart

Alfred Klaus, of the BKA, flies to Stammheim at Jan-Carl Raspe's request. Raspe hands Klaus a typewritten note indicating that if the countries that have already been mentioned would not take them, then there are several other countries which would suffice: Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, and Ethiopia. Klaus realizes that Raspe's note uses the word "We," indicating that the prisoners had been in contact with each other, despite the contact ban.

1-2 October, Stuttgart

Arnt Müller, Klaus Croissant's associate, is arrested in Stuttgart for his associations with known terrorists. Volker Speitel, an RAF supporter who had briefly gone underground to join the cause, is arrested the following day for the same reasons.

8-11 October, Geneva & Stuttgart

Payot receives a letter from Schleyer, along with a recent Polaroid. Back at Stammheim, the prisoners are becoming increasingly depressed by the contact ban. The BKA's Alfred Klaus again flies by helicopter to Stammheim. He talks to Baader and comes to the conclusion that Baader is contemplating suicide.

The next day Klaus returns to Stammheim after Ensslin says that she want to talk as well. She clearly indicates that she is feeling suicidal as well. A few days later, Baader tells the prison doctor that the gang members are contemplating collective suicide.

13 October, Palma de Mallorca

A Lufthansa Boeing 737, bound for Frankfurt, is hijacked by Palestinians shortly after take-off. The plane is diverted to Rome's Fiumicino Airport. Almost all of the passengers are German vacationers. Including the crew, there are 91 hostages. "This is Captain Martyr Mohammed speaking," announces one of the hijackers to the Rome air-traffic controllers. "The group I represent demands the release of our comrades in German prisons. We are fighting against the imperialist organizations of the world." The Federal Border Police mobilizes its special GSG-9 anti-terrorist unit. The hi-jacked plane takes off from Rome heading towards the Persian Gulf. The four Palestinian terrorists are: Nabil Harb, Souhalia Andrawes, Nadia Shehadah Duaibes, and Zohair Akache.

14 October, Geneva & Bahrain

Denis Payot receives another ultimatum, this time demanding the release of two additional Palestinian prisoners. Also demanded is a 15 million American dollar ransom, to be delivered by Schleyer's son, Eberhard. The Lufthansa plane lands in Bahrain, refuels, and heads to Dubai. Joint statements are issued by the Palestinians and the RAF kidnappers of Schleyer.

15 October, Frankfurt & Stuttgart

"Schleyer's son Eberhard is to hand over 15 million dollars," says an announcement released by the German Press Agency. "The authorities intend to meet one of the demands named by the terrorists by paying the kidnappers 15 million American dollars at mid-day on Saturday. Diplomatic circles in Bonn said on Saturday that a son of the kidnapped President of the Employers' Association Hanns Martin Schleyer, is to hand over the sum demanded at noon in the Intercontinental Hotel in Frankfurt."

Needless to say the kidnappers do not show up to the Intercontinental Hotel, but hundreds of reporters do. Horst Herold knew that the 15 million dollar ransom would not help get Schleyer back, so he authorized the news release to thwart the kidnappers. Klaus flies again to Stammheim to talk to the prisoners.

16 October, Dubai

The Palestinians hijackers have the Lufthansa plane flown from Dubai to Aden, where it lands beside a runway dotted with armored tanks put there for the expressed purpose of preventing it from landing. After the plane lands, the Palestinian's leader, "Martyr Mahmud," shoots and kills the pilot, Jürgen Schumann. His lifeless body is propped in a cloakroom at the back of the 737. Later it will be tossed unceremoniously on the tarmac.

17-18 October, Aden & Stuttgart

The refueled 737 takes off from Aden, landing a few hours later in Mogadishu, Somalia. The hijackers demand that the German government fly Baader and the other German terrorist prisoners to Mogadishu, or they will blow up the Lufthansa plane. Late in the day a German representative tells Mahmud that the prisoners are being prepared to be flown to Mogadishu.

After darkness, a Boeing 707 carrying the crack GSG-9 commando team lands unnoticed at the Mogadishu airport. After an hour of preparation, the GSG-9 unit storms the plane, killing three of the four hijackers, and seriously wounding the final one. None of the passengers is injured, save for one stewardess whose leg is is slightly hurt. Back in Stammheim, Raspe has been following the drama on his small, smuggled transistor radio. After hearing of the success of the raid, he spends the next few hours talking to Baader, Ensslin, and Möller on their secret "phone" system. They agree to a suicide pact. Verena Becker, the only other terrorist currently in Stammheim's high security wing, is apparently left out of the loop.

18 October , Stuttgart - Andreas Baader lies dead from a gunshot wound. In the cells surrounding his, Jan Carl-Raspe lies dead from another gunshot wound; Gudrun Ensslin is hanging, dead in her cell, and Irmgard Moeller has been stabbed severely in her chest. Germany is shocked and most on the left take as an article of faith that the German state killed the terrorists.


Much of what happens next is shrouded in controversy. Here's the official version: Sometime in the night of October 17-18, between 11:00pm and 7:00am, in cell 719 Baader removes his carefully hidden 7.65 caliber FEG pistol from its hiding place (it was among the dozens of illegal items smuggled into the "most secure prison in the world" by Baader-Meinhof lawyers). He shoots two bullets: one at the wall and one into a pillow, to leave the impression of a fight. Then he holds the gun behind his neck, puts his thumb on the trigger, and pulls it, blowing a hole through the top of his forehead.

In cell 716 Raspe takes his hidden 9mm Heckler and Koch pistol, sits on the edge of his bunk, puts the gun to his temple, and pulls the trigger.

In cell 720 Ensslin takes a piece of speaker wire and runs it through the narrow mesh grating covering her window. She makes a noose, puts her head through it, stands on a chair, and then kicks the chair aside.

In cell 725 Irmgard Möller takes a stolen knife and stabs herself four times. She comes within millimeters of her heart, but misses.
All of the prisoners are found the next morning. Raspe is alive, but dies at the hospital. Möller's life is saved at the same hospital. Baader and Ensslin had been dead for several hours when they are found. In the months that followed, an incredulous public can hardly believe that the prisoners had killed themselves, many preferring to believe that prison officials had murdered them. Much later, the best Baader-Meinhof biographer, Stefan Aust, demonstrates quite conclusively in his 1985 book, The Baader-Meinhof Group, that the prisoners almost assuredly did kill themselves. But it remains an article of faith among many leftist sympathizers that they were murdered.

19 October, Paris

"After 43 days, we have ended Hanns-Martin Schleyer's miserable and corrupt existence," reads a letter received by the leftist French paper Libération.

4 June 1974, Berlin - Ulrich Schmücker of Movement 2 June is shot dead in a Berlin park by members of the group, reportedly because he was an informant. According to Stefan Aust, the death may have been an accident; the result of a mock death sentence gone awry.

"Herr [Chancellor Helmut] Schmidt, who from the start has been reckoning with Schleyer's death in his power calculations, can find him in a green Audi 100 with Bad Homburg plates in the rue Charles Peguy in Mulhouse [France]. His death is of no significance in our pain and rage at the slaughter of Mogadishu and Stammheim. The fascist drama staged by the imperialists to destroy the liberation movement does not surprise Andreas, Gudrun, Jan, Irmgard and ourselves. We will never forgive Schmidt and the imperialists who support him for the blood that has been shed. The fight has only just begun. Freedom through the armed anti-imperialist struggle."

After police find Schleyer's body in the trunk of the Audi, they determine that he had been shot three times in the head, probably while kneeling in a forest (his mouth had pine needles in it).

25 October, Stuttgart

Hanns-Martin Schleyer is buried following a service in Stuttgart's Collegiate Church. German president Walter Scheel attends, saying, "In the name of all German citizens, I ask you, the family of Hanns-Martin Schleyer, for forgiveness." 

27 October, Stuttgart

Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin, and Jan-Carl Raspe are buried in Stuttgart's Waldfriedhof Cemetery. Initially many town citizens protest the burying of the terrorists in a public cemetery, but Stuttgart's highly-respected mayor, Manfred Rommel (son of WW II German hero Irwin Rommel), orders the use of the public cemetery. "I will not accept that there should be first and second-class cemeteries," says Rommel. "All enmity should cease after death."

The three terrorists are buried pyramid-style in two cemetery plots, with Baader and Raspe on bottom, and Ensslin straddling both of their coffins on top. Above the coffins a two-ton lead cover is laid down to discourage grave-tampering. Several thousand mourners attend the funeral, mourning amidst a thousand machine-gun toting policemen.

The so-called "German Autumn" is over. The Baader-Meinhof era is over. But the Baader-Meinhof Gang's successors -- the various generations of the RAF -- will continue killing long after the deaths of the group's founders.

13 November, Munich

Ingrid Schubert, who was previously transferred to Munich's Stadelheim Prison, commits suicide by hanging herself in her cell.

December, Paris

Klaus Croissant, Baader-Meinhof lawyer, is extradited from France to face charges of supporting a terrorist organization.


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1977: Endgame