On May 14, 1970 a well-known figure of the German left, and respected journalist, Ulrike Meinhof, and others broke Andreas Baader (imprisoned for driving without a driver’s license) out of jail. This action laid the groundwork for what became the Red Army Faction (RAF), also known as the Baader-Meinhof Gang, which was labeled a terrorist group. They described themselves as an “armed resistance group.” They operated in West Germany during the early 1970s. Shortly after the jail break, on June 5th of the same year, they released their first communiqué to the public in the leftist Berlin paper, Agit 833, titled “Build Up the Red Army!”From there, they would seal their place in history with bombings and kidnapping the wealthy. Romanticized by the punk movement since forever, one may wonder who exactly were the RAF, and what were they about? This book is a good place to start, and this is the first time this has been printed in English.
This book collects Meinhof’s columns for the communist paper Konkret, which ran from 1960 to 1969. Each column is annotated at the end with information and background to political figures and the surrounding events of the time, which makes this all the more interesting. The writing is fiery—emotional at times—but also well informed. The Radical Left was not only alive in America at the time, but all over the world. Through these columns, one gets a picture of why people in West Germany were protesting, as well as what led Meinhof to do what she later did. The biographical chapter, “In Search of Ulrike Meinhof” from Karin Bauer, makes this book the best reason to pick this up. She gives us the history of before and after, examining the results of what the RAF did, how the populace reacted, what impact going underground had on Meinhof’s personal life, and more. This is an interesting, informative, and thought-provoking read. –M.Avrg (Seven Stories Press, 140 Watts St., NY, NY 10013, www.sevenstoriespress.com)