The following analysis of the Red Army Faction was written by an ultra-red-diaper baby: the daughter of the communist terrorist Ulrika Meinhof, who was the “Meinhof” of the notorious Baader-Meinhof Gang.
Rembrandt Clancy has provided an introduction to the translated essay, and also an appendix containing additional translated material.
Ideologies have a powerful tendency to develop a momentum of their own and to bring forth ever new motivational drive creators who feel pressure to go one step further. Ideologies have a tendency to expand and take over more and more spheres of politics and society. All spheres of policy today are in this sense determined by ’68: be it education policy, family and gender policy; be it European policy, energy and economic policy, through to the non-existent immigration policy. The culture and subculture as well as the NGOs have been ticking until today in ’68er time. Also, the schizophrenic policy towards radical left-wing violence, be it the G20 summit in Hamburg in July of 2017 or the violent excesses against the ECB in Frankfurt in March of 2015, have to be seen in the context of the ’68er-spin. […] What must be recognised and eliminated is the worldwide “fatwa” of the genocidal mass murderer Mao Zedong against the West, against everything that is Western: against Western culture, against what Western morality is, what Western achievement is; the “fatwa” that in the sixties put so many privileged Western children on the march to blindly hate their West, to furiously destroy and attack it; precisely this “fatwa”, which for fifty years has been taking on a life of its own, raging like a lindworm throughout society and strangling the Western freedom of the individual.*
— Bettina Röhl “Die RAF hat euch Lieb” (2018)
Bettina Röhl: Daughter of the Red Army Faction (RAF)
by Rembrandt Clancy
The author of the present essay was born in 1962 and is one of the twin daughters of Ulrika Meinhof (1934-1976), who still lives on under her maiden name in that other designation for the RAF, the Baader-Meinhof Gruppe (Baader-Meinhof Gang). Ulrika’s husband, Klaus Rainer Röhl, whom she divorced in 1968, was the publisher of konkret, which was the preeminent magazine animating the Extra-Parliamentary Opposition (APO) in the Bundesrepublik from the 1960s until it was shut down in 1973. Ulrike was the magazine’s one-time chief editor. She exercised considerable intellectual and propaganda influence on the radical student movement of her time, including her feminist family concept, where the personal becomes political, an axiom in her essay which also explains why women threw tomatoes at the Shah of Iran in 1967 (cf. Die Frauen im SDS oder In Eigener Sache, “The Women in the SDS or Action On Their Own Behalf”; 1968). In May of 1976 Ulrika Meinhof was found hanged in her prison cell with a makeshift device amid circumstances which, for some, remain unclarified.
Bettina Röhl studied history and is a publicist. She has written two books treating critically of the radical ’68er student movement which threatened to destabilise the Federal Republic of Germany (Bundesrepublik Deutschland — BRD). Her first book So macht Kommunismus Spaß! (Making Communism Fun! — 2006) deals with the history of the Left in Germany from 1949 to 1968.
In her second book, Die RAF hat euch lieb (The RAF Loves You — 2018), Bettina Röhl recounts her experiences as a child in the first-generation RAF, whose most prominent names include Horst Mahler, Gudrun Esslin and Andreas Baader. The author conveys the movement’s quasi-religious, “Marxist-Leninist-Maoist” fervour among privileged students, who, mostly children of the National Socialist generation, were capable of arson, bank robberies, bombings, kidnapping, killing and a prison break.
In the light of an essay which treats of the ever-expanding reach of ideology, the meaning of the book’s title is worth a brief remark. “The RAF Loves You” is an impersonal greeting Ulrika Meinhof wrote to her 11-year old twin daughters from Cologne-Ossendorf prison in October of 1972. With this title and the chapter dedicated to it in the book, Bettina Röhl captures the abandonment of the children, as if the mother, who addressed the twins as “comrade mice” [Genossinnen Mäuse!] had confused or fused the intimate sphere with a collective persona.
“Whether you know it or not, whether like it or not, the RAF loves you. I probably know best.” (op. cit., Kindle vers. 1.28.0. München: Random House, Chapter: Die RAF hat euch lieb, para. 12):
The intoxicating crowd-events and the brutal highlights of the early RAF years in the Bundesrepublik still live with a special atmospheric colour in the German consciousness. Now after only two months of violent assaults of the Maoist cultural revolutionary type on Western culture, the English-speaking world read Bettina Röhl’s essay on the RAF years with almost the same vivid sense of immediacy as the Germans.
Only the type of collectivist identity has changed after five decades: “The Red Army Faction is Dead”, but “Long live Antifa”. It is as if the author writes of a time-spanning protean spirit of collectivism which preternaturally modifies its external expression to adapt to the changed external political and social circumstances of each generation. Hence Röhl speaks of a spirit of the times, a “revolutionary Zeitgeist”; a “revolution-phantasm” and a “diffuse prototype” of the revolution found in specific dictatorships.
The names of the street gangs change as do those of the identity groups; at one time it is social class, at another it is a particular race, at another a coalition of races, ethnic groups and sexual identities. Röhl’s intuition suggests the presence of a latent, transgenerational collectivist “Geist” which can only be inferred from the surface events she describes.
However, Antifa itself does have a history, or at least its name has a lineage. Its history as paramilitary strategy can be traced to the official founding of Die Antifaschistische Aktion of the Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands (KPD) on 10 July 1932 (Bernd Langer. 80 Jahre Antifaschistische Aktion, 2012, p. 3).
|*||Die RAF hat euch lieb Kindle vers. 1.28.0, München: Random House, Chapter: Schusswort — Conclusion; para 3, 2018)
The Red Army Faction is Dead — Long Live Antifa
Source: Neue Zürcher Zeitung
02 June 2020
The freeing of Andreas Baader from prison fifty years ago was the beginning of the Red Army Faction (RAF). What began with revolutionary romanticism terrorised the Bundesrepublik Deutschland (BRD) for more than three decades. Radical Left-wing terror still exists today.
by Bettina Röhl
[original German language article places an image with the RAF logo here]
Who was in a fever in the seventies? Was it the RAF? Was it the German Federal authorities and politicians? Were the media overheated? Was it the society, the establishment, that chased after the terrorists? Or was it the students who were awakened by the events surrounding 1968 — that army of student disciples in the 1970s, who in the publishing sphere time and again rolled out the red carpet for the RAF?
In the Bundesrepublik [Federal Republic] of the time, the large silent majority did not side with the ’68er-movement, much less did they side with the RAF, a movement of armed struggle in West Germany. The overwhelming majority of citizens (above all the working population) felt little attraction to terror, violence, urban guerrillas and revolution; and they looked on with vexation, somewhat paralysed at the fashionable phenomenon of “terrorism”: “being high, being free and a bit of terror must be thrown in”. The silent majority were the ones to be combatted, the “bourgeois”. That is how the young pop-Communist enthusiasts saw it; those who gravitated to Che Guevara, Ho Chi Minh and more particularly to Mao Zedong as the ‘one who fundamentally transformed society’ [Umwälzer].
Especially the so-called left-wing intellectuals became, at best, semi-critical propagators of the 1968 RAF ideology; they were the subcultural and established artists, from the writer Hans Magnus Enzensberger to solicitor and singer Franz Josef Degenhardt; from theatre director Claus Peymann to Nobel Prize winner for literature Heinrich Böll. They were ubiquitous at the time with their opinions, especially in the boom-media with their circulation in the millions, such as Der Spiegel, Stern and the “Die Zeit”; but also, they were everywhere in the powerful public sector television broadcasters of the time. Also, many journalists were completely lacking in detachment and became avid reporters for the RAF. At the same time, reportage on the RAF functioned almost like a true-crime serial, presenting the public with crimes, perpetrators and the deaths almost in real time.