German Autumn

The German Autumn (German: Deutscher Herbst) was a series of events in Germany in late 1977 associated with the kidnapping and murder of industrialist Hanns Martin Schleyer, president of the Confederation of German Employers' Associations (BDA) and the Federation of German Industries (BDI), by the Red Army Faction (RAF) insurgent group, and the hijacking of the Lufthansa airplane Landshut by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). They demanded the release of ten RAF members detained at the Stammheim Prison plus two Palestinian compatriots held in Turkey and US$15 million in exchange for the hostages. The assassination of Siegfried Buback, the attorney-general of West Germany on 7 April 1977, and the failed kidnapping and murder of the banker Jürgen Ponto on 30 July 1977, marked the beginning of the German Autumn. It ended on 18 October, with the liberation of the Landshut, the death of the leading figures of the first generation of the RAF in their prison cells, and the death of Schleyer.

The phrase "German Autumn" is derived from the 1978 film Deutschland im Herbst (Germany in Autumn), a German omnibus film whose segments covered the social atmosphere during late 1977, while offering different critical perspectives and arguments pertaining to the situation. The directors involved were Heinrich Böll, Hans Peter Cloos, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Alexander Kluge, Maxmiliane Mainka, Edgar Reitz, Katja Rupé, Volker Schlöndorff, Peter Schubert and Bernhard Sinkel. Kluge and Beate Mainka-Jellinghaus edited the film.[1]

German Autumn
Part of Cold War conflicts
Hanns Martin Schleyer in captivity

Hanns Martin Schleyer as a hostage
Date7 April – 18 October 1977
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
Red Army Faction
Revolutionary Cells
 Federal Republic of Germany
Commanders and leaders
Andreas Baader 
Gudrun Ensslin 
Brigitte Mohnhaupt
Christian Klar
Helmut Schmidt
Siegfried Buback 
Around 14 Thousands of Federal Police
Casualties and losses
4 dead 9 dead

Siegfried Buback assassination

On 7 April 1977, Siegfried Buback, the attorney-general of West Germany, was shot and killed alongside his driver Wolfgang Göbel and a passenger, judicial officer Georg Wurster, in an ambush whilst travelling from his home in Neureut to the Bundesgerichtshof in Karlsruhe.

Four RAF members, Christian Klar, Knut Folkerts, Günter Sonnenberg and Brigitte Mohnhaupt were formally charged and prosecuted in connection with the Buback murder. In 2007, former RAF members Peter-Jürgen Boock and Verena Becker claimed that another former RAF member, Stefan Wisniewski, had fired the gun that killed Buback.

Jürgen Ponto kidnapping/murder

On 30 July 1977, Jürgen Ponto, the head of Dresdner Bank, was shot and killed in his house in Oberursel in a kidnapping that went wrong. Those involved were Brigitte Mohnhaupt, Christian Klar and Susanne Albrecht, the last being the sister of Ponto's goddaughter.[2]

Hanns Martin Schleyer kidnapping

Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F041440-0014, Hamburg, CDU-Bundesparteitag, Schleyer
Photo of Hanns Martin Schleyer

On 5 September 1977, an RAF 'commando unit' attacked the chauffeured car carrying Hanns Martin Schleyer, then president of the German employers' association, in Cologne. His driver, Heinz Marcisz, 41, was forced to brake when a baby carriage suddenly appeared in the street in front of them. The police escort vehicle behind them was unable to stop in time, and crashed into Schleyer's car. Four (or possibly five) masked RAF members sprayed machine gun and machine pistol bullets into the two vehicles, killing Marcisz and a police officer, Roland Pieler, 20, who was seated in the backseat of Marcisz's car. The driver of the police escort vehicle, Reinhold Brändle, 41 and a third police officer, Helmut Ulmer, 24, who was in the second vehicle were also killed. The hail of bullets riddled over twenty bullet wounds into the bodies of Brändle and Pieler.[3] Schleyer was abducted and held prisoner in a rented apartment in an anonymous residential neighborhood near Cologne. He was forced to appeal to the center-left West German government under Helmut Schmidt for the 'first generation' of RAF members (then imprisoned) to be exchanged for him. Police investigations to locate Schleyer proved unsuccessful. On 18 October 1977, three of the imprisoned RAF members were found dead in their cells. In response, Schleyer was taken from Brussels and shot dead en route to Mulhouse, France, where his body was left in the trunk of a green Audi 100 on the rue Charles Péguy. After the kidnappers phoned the location of the Audi to the Deutsche Presse-Agentur office in Stuttgart, Schleyer's body was recovered on 19 October.

Landshut hijacking

Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F051866-0010, "Landshut"-Entführung, Rückkehr GSG 9
“Stuttgart” landed at Cologne Bonn Airport on 18 October 1977 with GSG9 team (seen) and hostages, photograph by Ludwig Wegmann

When it became clear that the government was unwilling to entertain a further prisoner exchange given the experience of the kidnapping of Peter Lorenz two years earlier, the RAF tried to exert additional pressure by hijacking the Lufthansa aeroplane Landshut on October 13 1977 with the help of the allied Palestinian group PFLP. After a long odyssey through the Arabian Peninsula and the execution-type killing of Captain Jürgen Schumann, the hijackers and their hostages landed in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia.

After political negotiations with the Somali leader Siad Barre, the West German government was granted permission to assault the plane Lufthansa 181. This was carried out on 18 October by the special task force GSG 9, which had been formed after the 1972 Munich Olympics hostage crisis. Only one GSG 9 member and one flight-attendant were injured; of the hijackers only Souhaila Andrawes survived.[4]

On the same night, three of the imprisoned RAF members – Gudrun Ensslin, Jan-Carl Raspe and Andreas Baader – were found dead in their cells.

The official investigation into the deaths of the imprisoned RAF members concluded that they had committed suicide: Baader and Raspe using handguns allegedly smuggled into the Stammheim maximum security prison by their lawyer Arndt Müller, Ensslin by hanging herself. Irmgard Möller, who was imprisoned with them, survived with four knife wounds in her chest. She later claimed that the "suicides" were actually extrajudicial killings. On 12 November Ingrid Schubert was found hanged in her cell.[5]

Policy response

Germany's political parties also came into fierce clashes during the German Autumn. The CDU/CSU suspected that the ruling social-liberal SPD-FDP coalition under Helmut Schmidt (SPD) were ideologically close to the insurgents. The coalition, in turn, accused the opposition of hysteric overreactions and seizing the opportunity to transform the Federal Republic a little way into a police state.[6] This caused great indignation in the CDU/CSU.

Despite—or because of—these conflicts, the opposition agreed to appoint Schmidt as Chancellor during the formation of the Großer Krisenstab, a temporary government formed at the beginning of the Schleyer kidnapping, which involved members of all parties in the Bundestag. Historian Wolfgang Kraushaar likened its 45-day rule to an "undeclared state of emergency". One result of the cross-party collaboration was the Kontaktsperre, a law which mandated that RAF prisoners could have no access to newspapers, TV, or radio, and could not be visited by family or lawyers.[7]



  1. ^ "Montage, Music and Memory Remembering Deutschland im Herbst"
  2. ^ Red Roses from Roter Morgen
  3. ^ An Age of Murder Ideology and Terror in Germany, 1969–1991
  4. ^ Smith & Moncourt: Daring to Struggle, Failing to Win: The Red Army Faction's 1977 Campaign of Desperation. PM Press, 2008, pp. 22–24. ISBN 1-60486-028-6
  5. ^ Eager, Whaley: From freedom fighters to terrorists: women and political violence. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2008, page 66. ISBN 0-7546-7225-5
  6. ^ Peter Graf Kielmansegg: Nach der Katastrophe. Eine Geschichte des geteilten Deutschlands. Berlin 2000, ISBN 3-88680-329-5, S.342.
  7. ^ Geronimo (2012). Fire and Flames: A History of the German Autonomist Movement. PM Press. p. 69.

External links



was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar, the 1977th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 977th year of the 2nd millennium, the 77th year of the 20th century, and the 8th year of the 1970s decade.

1977 in Germany

Events in the year 1977 in Germany.

Baader Meinhof (album)

Baader Meinhof is a 1996 album by Luke Haines, under the pseudonym Baader Meinhof. The name is taken from two of the main members of the Red Army Faction, Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof, and the album, composed of 10 tracks, tells the history of group, since the ideas that might have inspired the group (in the first track, there's a quote from the student movement leader Rudi Dutschke: "Rudi said 'we got to be wise and we got to get armed'"), their first actions ("Burn Warehouse Burn"), their travel to Jordan ("Meet Me at the Airport"), their capture, the hijacking of a Lufthansa airplane by the members of the "second generation" of the RAF, in 1977 (one of the events that marked the German Autumn) ("Mogadishu"). In 2014, British independent record label 3 Loop Music re-released the album on heavyweight 180gsm vinyl and as an Expanded CD Edition which included four remixes from a previously unreleased EP.

Convoy ON 207

ON 207 was a North Atlantic convoy of the ONS/ON series which ran during the Battle of the Atlantic in World War II. It was the subject of a major U-boat attack in October 1943, the fourth battle in the German autumn offensive.

German Autumn (book)

German Autumn (original title: Tysk höst) is a book published in 1947 collecting a series of journalistic essays by Swedish novelist Stig Dagerman. Written during the fall of 1946 while he was on assignment by the Swedish newspaper Expressen in Germany, it depicts life in the war-torn country in the immediate aftermath of World War II. It was not published in America until 2011 (translated by Robin Fulton Macpherson, with a foreword by Mark Kurlansky). The 2010 Swedish edition has an introduction by Nobel Prize in Literature laureate Elfriede Jelinek. It was adapted into the 2008 French documentary film 1946, automne allemand that uses archival footage from post-war Germany to illustrate Dagerman's text.

Germany in Autumn

Germany in Autumn (German: Deutschland im Herbst) is a 1978 West German omnibus film about the 1970s terrorist incidents known as German Autumn. The film is composed of contributions from different filmmakers, including Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Alexander Kluge, Edgar Reitz and Volker Schlöndorff. It was entered into the 28th Berlin International Film Festival, where it won a Special Recognition award.


In the Russian language the word Glasnost (; Russian: гла́сность, IPA: [ˈɡɫasnəsʲtʲ] (listen)) has several general and specific meanings. It has been used in Russian to mean "openness and transparency" since at least the end of the eighteenth century.In the Russian Empire of the late-19th century, the term was particularly associated with reforms of the judicial system, ensuring that the press and the public could attend court hearings and that the sentence was read out in public. In the mid-1980s, it was popularised by Mikhail Gorbachev as a political slogan for increased government transparency in the Soviet Union.

Hanns Martin Schleyer

Hanns Martin Schleyer (German pronunciation: [ˈhaːns ˈmaɐtiːn ˈʃlaɪ̯ɐ̯]; 1 May 1915 – 18 October 1977) was a German business executive and employer and industry representative, who served as President of two powerful commercial organizations, the Confederation of German Employers' Associations (Bundesvereinigung der Deutschen Arbeitgeberverbände, BDA) and the Federation of German Industries (Bundesverband der Deutschen Industrie, BDI). Schleyer's role in those business organisations, his positions in the labour disputes and aggressive appearance on television, his conservative anti-communist views and position as a prominent member of the Christian Democratic Union, and his past as an enthusiastic member of the Nazi student movement made him a target for radical elements of the German student movement in the 1970s.He was kidnapped on 5 September 1977 by the far left Red Army Faction (Rote Armee Fraktion, RAF) and subsequently murdered; his driver and police escort of three policemen were also murdered when his car was ambushed. The German government decided to not negotiate with terrorists. The abduction and murder are commonly seen as the climax of the RAF campaign in 1977, known as the German Autumn. After his death Schleyer has been extensively honoured in Germany; the Hanns Martin Schleyer Prize, the Hanns Martin Schleyer Foundation and the Hanns-Martin-Schleyer-Halle are named in his honour. In 2017 German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and the German government marked the 40th anniversary of the kidnapping.

Indiani Metropolitani

Indiani Metropolitani (Metropolitan Indians) were a small faction active in the Italian far-left protest movement during 1976 and 1977, in the so-called "Years of Lead". A similar approach was called Stadtindianer (urban red Indians) in Germany, during the German Autumn .

Irmgard Möller

Irmgard Möller (born 13 May 1947) is a former member of the German terrorist group the Red Army Faction (RAF). Her father was a high school teacher, and before joining the RAF, she was a student of German studies.

Jürgen Ponto

Jürgen Ponto (17 December 1923 Bad Nauheim, People's State of Hesse - 30 July 1977 Frankfurt am Main) was a German banker and chairman of the Dresdner Bank board of directors. Previously, he had worked as a lawyer. He was assassinated by members of the Red Army Faction in events leading up to the German Autumn. Actor Erich Ponto was his uncle.

Kidnapping and murder of Hanns-Martin Schleyer

The kidnapping and murder of Hanns-Martin Schleyer marked the end of the German Autumn in 1977.

German industrial leader Hanns Martin Schleyer was kidnapped on 5 September 1977, by the Red Army Faction (RAF), also known as Baader-Meinhof Gang, in Cologne. It was intended to force the West German government to release Andreas Baader and three other RAF members being held at the Stammheim Prison near the city of Stuttgart. On 18 October 1977, on learning that three of their members had been found dead in prison, the RAF killed Martin Schleyer.

Lufthansa Flight 181

Lufthansa Flight 181 was a Boeing 737–230 Adv aircraft named Landshut that was hijacked on 13 October 1977 by four members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, who called themselves Commando Martyr Halima. The objective of the hijacking was to secure the release of imprisoned Red Army Faction leaders. On 18 October the aircraft was stormed by the West German counter-terrorism group GSG 9 in Mogadishu, Somalia, and all 90 passengers rescued. The rescue operation was codenamed Feuerzauber (German term for "Fire Spell"). The hijacking is considered to be part of the German Autumn.

In 2017 the German government purchased the aircraft involved (D-ABCE), and a complex logistic operation was set in motion to transport it back to Germany. Lufthansa Technik specialists flew to Brazil to disassemble the aircraft and fit the different parts in a giant Antonov cargo airplane and an accompanying Ilyushin Il-76. Once back home, it will be reassembled at the Dornier museum in Friedrichshafen, where it will be fully restored (cleaned, refurbished, repainted) and displayed in its original 1977 Lufthansa livery. The project is expected to be completed in October 2022.

Michael Buback

Michael Buback (February 16, 1945) is a chemist and professor at Göttingen University. He is the son of Siegfried Buback, the former chief federal prosecutor of Germany who was assassinated by Red Army Fraction (RAF) militant group in the German Autumn 1977.

Red Army Faction

The Red Army Faction (RAF; German: Rote Armee Fraktion), also known as the Baader–Meinhof Group or Baader–Meinhof Gang (German: Baader-Meinhof-Gruppe, Baader-Meinhof-Bande), was a West German far-left militant organization founded in 1970. Key early figures included Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin, Horst Mahler and Ulrike Meinhof, among others. Ulrike Meinhof was involved in Baader's escape from jail in 1970. The West German government as well as most Western media and literature considered the Red Army Faction to be a terrorist organization.The Red Army Faction engaged in a series of bombings, assassinations, kidnappings, bank robberies and shoot-outs with police over the course of three decades. Their activity peaked in late 1977, which led to a national crisis that became known as the "German Autumn". The RAF has been held responsible for thirty-four deaths, including many secondary targets, such as chauffeurs and bodyguards, as well as many injuries throughout its almost thirty years of activity. Although better-known, the RAF conducted fewer attacks than the Revolutionary Cells, which is held responsible for 296 bomb attacks, arson and other attacks between 1973 and 1995.Sometimes the group is talked about in terms of generations:

the "first generation", which consisted of Baader, Ensslin, Meinhof and others;

the "second generation", after the majority of the first generation was arrested in 1972; and

the "third generation" RAF, which existed in the 1980s and 1990s up to 1998, after the first generation died in Stammheim maximum security prison in 1977.On 20 April 1998, an eight-page typewritten letter in German was faxed to the Reuters news agency, signed "RAF" with the submachine-gun red star, declaring that the group had dissolved. In 1999, after a robbery in Duisburg, traces of Staub and Klette were found, causing an official investigation into a re-founding. Again, in January 2016, German police identified three RAF members as being the perpetrators of an assault on an armored truck transporting €1 million, thus fueling suspicion that RAF might be active again. These robberies are seen as criminal and not terrorist acts.

In total, the RAF killed 34 people, and 27 members or supporters were killed.

Revolutionary Cells (German group)

The Revolutionary Cells (German: Revolutionäre Zellen, abbreviated RZ) were a self-described "urban guerilla" organisation, that was active between 1973 and 1995, and was described in the early 1980s as one of Germany's most dangerous leftist terrorist groups by the West German Interior Ministry. According to the office of the German Federal Prosecutor, the Revolutionary Cells claimed responsibility for 186 attacks, of which 40 were committed in West Berlin.The Revolutionary Cells are known for hijacking an Air France flight in cooperation with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – External Operations (PFLP-EO) and diverting it to Uganda's Entebbe Airport, where the participating members were granted temporary asylum until their deaths during Operation Entebbe, a hostage rescue mission carried out by commandos of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) at Entebbe Airport in Uganda on 4 July 1976.

Suspiria (2018 film)

Suspiria (Latin pronunciation: [sʊsˈpɪria]) is a 2018 supernatural horror film directed by Luca Guadagnino with a screenplay by David Kajganich, inspired by the 1977 Italian film of the same title directed by Dario Argento. Guadagnino's film, which is set in 1977, stars Dakota Johnson as an American woman who enrolls at a prestigious dance academy in Berlin run by a coven of witches. Tilda Swinton co-stars in three roles, including as the company's lead choreographer and as a male psychotherapist involved in the academy. Mia Goth, Elena Fokina, and Chloë Grace Moretz appear in supporting roles as students, while Angela Winkler, Ingrid Caven, Sylvie Testud, Renée Soutendijk, and Christine LeBoutte portray some of the academy's matrons. The star of the original film, Jessica Harper, has a cameo appearance.

A remake of Suspiria was first announced in 2008 after Guadagnino had acquired the rights from the original film's writers, Dario Argento and Daria Nicolodi. Guadagnino offered the film to David Gordon Green, but that project was eventually canceled due to financing conflicts. In September 2015, Guadagnino confirmed his plans to direct, describing his version as an "homage" to the original rather than a straightforward remake. A new screenplay was drafted by Kajganich, who had written Guadagnino's A Bigger Splash the year before. Kajganich set the film during the so-called "German Autumn" of 1977 in order to explore themes of generational guilt in that country during the Cold War. The film's other themes include motherhood, evil, and the dynamics of matriarchies.

Unlike the original film, which used exaggerated colors, Guadagnino conceived the visuals in Suspiria as "winterish" and bleak, absent of primary colors. The film incorporates stylized dance sequences choreographed by Damien Jalet, which form part of its representation of witchcraft. Principal photography took place in late 2016 and early 2017 in Varese, Italy, and in Berlin. The musical score was composed by Radiohead singer Thom Yorke, who took inspiration from krautrock. The film is dedicated to the memories of Vogue Italia editor-in-chief Franca Sozzani, film director Jonathan Demme and Deborah Falzone.

Suspiria premiered at the 75th Venice International Film Festival on September 1, 2018. It was given a limited release by Amazon Studios in Los Angeles and New York on October 26, 2018, where it grossed over $180,000 in its opening weekend, marking the highest screen-average box-office launch of the year. It was then screened on October 31 in select U.S. cities before opening in wide release on November 2, 2018. It was released in Italy on January 1, 2019 by Videa. Critical response to the film has been polarized; while some praise it for its visual elements and acting, others have criticized its historical-political setting for being unnecessary or arbitrary in relation to its other themes.

Werner Maihofer

Werner Maihofer (20 October 1918 – 6 October 2009) was a German jurist and legal philosopher. He served as Germany's Federal Minister of the Interior from 1974–1978 until he resigned after a scandal involving an illegal wiretapping of Klaus Traube.

Western Bloc

The Western Bloc during the Cold War refers to capitalist countries under the hegemony of the United States and NATO against the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact. The latter were referred to as the Eastern Bloc. The governments and press of the Western Bloc were more inclined to refer to themselves as the "Free World" or the "Western world", whereas the Eastern Bloc was often called the "Communist world or Second world".

Notable attacks
Notable terrorists
Terrorist groups
Counter-terrorism units
Frozen conflicts
Foreign policy
See also

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