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The terrorist group Baader Meinhof/Red Army Faction

Updated on August 21, 2014

The Red Army Faction

Also called the Baader Meinhof Group, the Red Army Faction was a left wing prominent militant group of Germany that was most prominent. Founded by Ulrike Meinhof, Horst Mahler, Gudrun Ensslin and Andreas Baader in nineteen seventy, RAF has a description of itself as anti-imperialist, communist and a group that is urban guerrilla engaged in resistance which is armed against what they believed to be a state that was fascist. Due to this, when writing in English, RAF members generally used the term Faction that was Marxist-Leninist.

German Autumn

Having existed from the year nineteen seventy to nineteen ninety-eight, the Red Army Faction committed many operations especially in late nineteen seventy-seven which led a crisis in the nation that was called “German Autumn.” Held responsible for 34 deaths, the group was also blamed from secondary targets like bodyguards and chauffeurs plus many injuries in activities in 30 years. Compared to the Revolutionary Cells, RAF was more popular but had less attacks. At any time, Meinhof was not thought to be the leader of the RAF.

West Germany

The group origins can be tracked back to West Germany’s student protest movement. Nations that were industrialized in the late sixties went through upheavals socially which were related to baby boomers born after WWII who had become more mature as well as the end of colonialism and the Cold War. Youth identity was newly found including issues such as anti-imperialism, women’s liberation and racism.


Many younger people went through alienation from both the state institutions and their parents. The Nazism historical legacy drove wedges between each generation and increased suspicious thoughts about society structures like authoritarianism.

There was anger among the leftist youth in West Germany at post war denazification in East Germany and West Germany which was perceived as ineffective and thought of as failure as previous Nazis held economy and government positions.

The Sixties and Seventies

In the sixties and seventies, The RAF was not the first armed action expression on the part of West Germany’s New Left. However, this was the 1st organized group to give struggle that was armed a structured and consisted form within the context of anti-imperialist and international movements of the time. As such, the RAF can be said to have been organized formally on the fourteenth of May in nineteen seventy when an armed unit was led by Ulrike Meinhof freed Andreas Baader who then served a sentence in prison connected to two fire bombs that occurred in the ‘6. In the 1st Manifest, a document entitled The Concept of the Urban Guerilla was steeped in the Marxism Leninins of the day. The RAF affirmed that the West Berlin and West Germany organizations of armed group resistance is justified, possible and correct. They had further made statements that it is justified, possible and correct to conduct urban guerrillas war at the moment but it must begin as without it there won’t be a struggle in the metropoles that was anti-imperialist. They also added that it is from Latin America that the urban guerrilla concept comes from. The RAF also adds that as a group it connects the struggle between illegal and legal, between international and national struggles, between tactical and strategic positions of the international movement of communists.


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