I chose to research and write a diary entry for Andreas Baader for a number of reasons. I thought it would be interesting to investigate what would be the apparent reasoning for someone to decide to act in such ways and start a formidable terrorist group. Throughout the progression of the course I have found the ideas behind many of the student protests and movements, like the protests against the Shah of Iran and the Vietnam War, hugely interesting and this left me wanting to investigate the beginnings of the RAF. I found the idea of ‘Kommune I’ particularly interesting as this is one of the places where Baader recruited a number of his followers. Furthermore, I thought it would be interesting to give a first-hand account of the problems within Germany at the time and attempt to put myself in the shoes of a dissociated young activist/ student like Andreas Baader. After reading a ‘Quora’ article questioning whether a resurgence of such aggressive left-wing violence could take place, I found that many of the problems faced in 1960s Germany are repeating themselves in the world that we live in today – especially the manipulative, right-wing rule of an American president like Donald Trump.
Der Stern- present day
In recent days a fascinating discovery has been made in the archives of the Innenministerium in Berlin. Following the apparent suicide of Andreas Baader in Stuttgart in October 1977 and the subsequent seizure of the deceased’s belongings, a group of historians from the Humboldt University in Berlin found a diary which was disguised as a book among Baader’s belongings. This diary made for fascinating reading and gave an unprecedented insight into the troubled mind of one of the most active members of the ‘Rote Armee Fraktion (RAF)’; a group which caused bloodshed and paranoia which had been unknown to many since the defeat of the Third Reich in 1945. Below is a diary entry from the days following Baader’s and, his lover and disciple, Gudrun Ennslin’s arson attack on a Frankfurt department store on April, 2nd 1968. This diary entry has unshrouded decade long mysteries surrounding motive, Baader’s personal beliefs and, in part, his self-justification and grounds for forming one of the most formidable terrorist groups in Europe.
“4th April 1968
The last couple of days have been some of the most confused in my life. The guilt, the constant self-questioning, the anxiety, the feeling of doing something that may make a change. Our first step toward a better Germany has taken place. Our decision to set fire to the American-run, capitalist department store in Frankfurt has clearly taken the world by storm; now everyone knows who we are, yet they do not understand why we did it and what is going to happen next. I feel that I need to put a number of my thoughts into this diary in order to set my motive and my beliefs straight. The action that we took has been born out of a number of shortcomings of the “Free” Republic of Germany. The social inequality that was born out of the end of Nazism has been rampant in our beloved country; hardworking men and women driven onto an economic depression while the capitalist fat-cats reap the rewards of their hard work. We live in a materialistic society wherein our people are driven by personal financial and material gain. They have been disillusioned by capitalist, Nazi pigs like Konrad Adenauer and Kurt Georg Kiesinger are the ones driving our country into the ground while being propped up by the war-mongering, power hungry Americans. There is no doubt in their involvement in the Nazi Party less than three decades ago. I will never be able to understand the motivation of unseating one dictator where two more will grow in his place. Officially, our motive is to protest against the slaughter of millions of innocent Vietnamese people under the oppressive boot of the Americans but it is so much more than that; this protest is only the beginning. Not only does our government bow down to this ‘superpower’ but then also invites other Fascist dictators like the Shah of Iran to bring his cronies to our country and maim and murder innocent protestors like Benno Ohnesorg in 1967. His martyrdom will not only unite the students of this country into acting not only does it show the oppressive nature of imperialist countries such as Iran but also the unwillingness and nonchalance of the government in acting to do something. This must change! Everywhere you turn you are able to smell the stench of the sickly American involvement in the apparent ‘rebuilding’ of this country, while all they do is look for loopholes for either their financial or political gain.
Over the past couple of days, I have been asking myself whether I would have been able to set fire to that department store if it had been full of innocent men, women and children… Would that make me as bad as them or would I be able to see them as a necessary sacrifice in our path to creating a better Germany. I am sure that I do not stand alone in saying that the loss of life is a necessary evil in making these people see their shortcomings and act. I wonder whether I will ever get to the point where I no longer wish to act in order for change or whether I will act in order to cause chaos. I look to my likeminded comrades; those in ‘Kommune I’, Rudi Dutschke and a number of others whom I wish to feel inspired by our actions. The ‘Kommunards’ have brought many of us great strength in showing what one group of likeminded people are capable of doing. Their visual protest in the form of the ‘Pudding Attentat’ when visiting US Vice-President Herbert H. Humphrey was “assassinated” or their circulation of the Vietnam Flyers following the fire at a Brussels department store in 1967 were bold and gave us inspiration but upon seeing the lack of change that this type of protest caused I knew that the magnitude of these actions must be increased. Trust me in saying that this arson attack is only the beginning. I hope to have inspired others to act as I did in standing up to the totalitarian, capitalist state that we live in.
5th April 1968
I can feel the inevitable coming. The warrants for Gudrun and my arrests are out. I ask myself do I stand and face for what I have done or do I run. I know there is help if you need it. I also often ask myself do I go to the DDR, a communist state. Yet then again are they that different? Another example of a country completely subservient to another, on the other hand the USSR is far better than those American pigs. But then I realise that fleeing would be futile; nothing would change in the “Free” Republic of Germany; the same type of people would still be in power, they would still be propped up by the imperialist US pigs and there would still be the current social inequality.
I feel that if I am caught I am no longer able to further the cause but then I am also given a voice with which to speak and implore the members of our society to feel associated with our cause. Then again why try and speak sense when others will take your words and distort them. I’m talking about hatemongers like Axel Springer and his “newspaper” which purely spreads right-wing propaganda.
I fear for the future; I fear that nothing will change; I fear that more action must be taken. “