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During the years of 1968-1977 Germany lived in fear. Three terrorist
groups - the Red Army Faction
2 June, and the Revolutionary
Cells (RZ) - gathered about a hundred Germans as their members.
Gang, who called themselves the Red Army Faction, and two other terrorist
groups went killing dozens of people. In 1968
the prominent German journalist Ulrike Meinhof
joined the former juvenile delinquent Andreas Baader
and his girlfriend Gudrun Ensslin
in launching the most terrifying era in German postwar history.
The student protests of 1968 gradually became riots. The young terrorists in
their desperate attempt to start the world revolution took to terrorism:
mere bank robbings turned to kidnappings and murders. Most of the leaders
of the most famous West German terrorist group, the Baader-Meinhof Gang,
were captured in mid-1972. Their followers
continued kidnapping and killing people over the next five years in an
effort to secure their leaders' release from prison, but it was all in
vain. The German government had no intention of releasing them.
The German government used the terrorist crisis to approve new laws giving
them broad powers in fighting terrorism. Radical leftists protested, but
the majority of the German people were firmly on the side of the government.
Late in 1977, after an airplane
hi-jacking by Palestinian comrades failed to release the three imprisoned
leaders of the Baader-Meinhof Gang, the terrorists Andreas Baader, Gudrun
Ensslin, and Jan-Carl
Raspe all committed suicide at Stammheim
prison deep at night on October 17, 1977. The Baader-Meinhof era, the
era of "German
Autumn", was over. Everybody in Germany hoped so. Unfortunately
many kidnappings and deaths were yet to come. Only in April of 1998, a
communiqué sent to Reuters proved what many had long suspected: that the
RAF was officially disbanded.