A Letter From Birgit Hogefeld

How am I doing? Totally torn apart, deeply moved, forever sad. Ten minutes have passed since I wrote that sentence – 1000 thoughts and many memories are running through my head and I keep crying. It is now Tuesday, around 11am: two days ago, Wolfgang was still alive [1]. The shots were fired on Sunday, at around 3:15pm, they told me that he died in Luebeck hospital at around 5:10pm, without ever having regained consciousness. A shot to the head.

Wolfgang and I knew each other for 18, 19 years, and we had a lovers’ relationship for the past 11 years. Never before had I been so close to another person, we knew everything about one another, and we understood many things about one another without speaking.

Yesterday, a BGS [2] helicopter flew me from Wismar to Karlsruhe, the weather was nice and I could see for miles, and in the distance I could recognize Luebeck, and I imagined how he was now lying there in an ice box…

Tonight, even now, I see him clearly before me, all the details of his face, his body, his fragrance, his voice when he speaks and sings – he had a very beautiful tenor voice – and sometimes we would improvise blues songs, he liked that a lot. If we had been born under conditions other than those in this inhumane land, then music would probably have played a big role in his life.

I shall keep a vision or a memory in my heart of our last meeting in Bad Kleinen. I was there before him, and he arrived at around 2pm – I saw him immediately. And then I saw him laughing and waving as he approached me, and we hugged each other for a long time.

As for the fatal shooting of Wolfgang and my arrest nothing seemed strange before it happened. I had come there a little before 1pm – from Wismar – which is known, because they found a safe key on me – Station Wismar, a back-pack with a typewriter in it, and a few books, and, according to the BKA [3], these things were taken from there by the BKA.

Bad Kleinen is a small town, and on Sunday, only one bar is open, the one at the station. I was there before I went to meet Wolfgang, and we also went there together. After we left the bar at shortly after 3pm, we went through the tunnel towards the exit, when after a few steps, a guy stood in front of me. I looked into the barrel of his gun and then lay on the ground. I was held down by 2 or 3 other guys with weapons, and it was made quite clear to me that I had better not make any wrong move if I wanted to live.

At the same time, I heard a lot of running and I realized that Wolfgang had been able to run away, but I didn’t see it – that was only made clear to me when I heard the shooting up on the platform above. Wolfgang ran 20 meters through the tunnel and up the stairs. I heard several shots. Shortly thereafter, someone from the arrest team ran down and yelled: “He’s lying in his blood on the rails.” When he said that, I knew that they meant Wolfgang. The people from the arrest team looked totally nervous and hectic after the shooting, as they did during all the running around – one of them, for example, walked up to me, lifted up my head, and hit me in the face, their whole manner of acting seemed tome to be totally crazed and especially brutal. My hands were tied behind my back – they are still numb, swollen, and cut – and a black gag was tied around my nose and mouth with several strips of tape, making it hard to breathe. They then brought me to the police station in Wismar by car, during the trip they didn’t take off the gag, but they loosened it enough so that I could breathe through my mouth. Underway, they took a pistol from me. In Wismar, the men from the BKA were already there and they started speaking to me using my real name. For all of Sunday evening, I kept asking about Wolfgang, and I said I wanted to speak to a lawyer or my mother. They kept saying that they didn’t want to give me any information and that I could not contact anyone, and that someone from the BAW [4] would come and decide. The man from the BAW came at around midnight, and after some stalling, he told me that Wolfgang had died. And then he wanted to start up a conversation: about how they had found a baby photo on me, and they asked who it was, and they mentioned how he had three children… I walked out. At 1am, they came back in my cell and told me to go upstairs. I said: No, I want to rest. Then they said I could make a call now. I was able to call my mother and talk with her and I was glad that she already knew of Wolfgang’s death and my arrest – that made everything easier for me, because I didn’t have to say too much, which would have made it difficult for me to continue talking.

And it was better for her, too, so that the phone call was more of a relief than a shock. After the call, the justice officer started going on about how it was clear that I had no hope of ever living in freedom again if I didn’t cooperate with them…

I said that I wanted to go, so I open the door, and I see a bunch of people with cameras all set up, and I make my face into a grimace. When I got back to my cell and wanted to lie down, they came back (at around 2am): That’s enough, they need the photos, and if I don’t do it right now, then they would take me to the identification room and call a doctor to give me a sedative drug and they’d get the photos that way. I let them take my fingerprints because I wanted to rest. On account of the photos, I stood with a grimace for at least half an hour, and was photographed several times by several people. Then they gave up and brought me back to my cell, where someone with a camera had hidden themselves in the half-darkness.

At around 3:30am, I was finally alone – at a certain moment, much later, I cried myself to sleep. The next day at around noon, the justice officer came to my cell: Surely we knew that what we were doing was pointless, we had written that in our own communiqués… There was hardly any reaction to everything we had written, not even about Weiterstadt [5]…The prisoners were divided amongst themselves… and before I end up in their situation, with my perspective, which isn’t there… then the only solution for me would be to adapt myself to their wishes. He didn’t want to shut up – at a certain moment, I said: “I have a problem.” And then he was silent. I continued: namely, my glasses, which the BKA haven’t returned to me… then he talked matter-of-factly about the glasses, which was too ridiculous even for him, and so he left. In the afternoon, they flew me to Karlsruhe – in a confined position – and there I was briefly able to speak with my mother and brother, and that was very good. Finally they flew me to Preungsheim, and when I was brought inside, I saw someone standing at a window waving and calling my name, it was Eva-Haule [6].

I was briefly able to shout hello and wave back. There is much still to tell about these events – but not today.

Birgit Hogefeld, 1993


N.B. All footnotes in this document were added by the translator and editor. None are originally from the RAF.

[1] RAF members Birgit Hogefeld and Wolfgang Grams had been lured to Bad Kleinen by a police informant – Klaus Steinmetz – one June 27th 1993. While Steinmetz and the two RAF members sat talking at the train station, 54 officers deployed around the building to close in as the three departed. Grams managed to get away, but was quickly captured. According to two witnesses the cops held Grams on the ground and shot him to death at point-blank range. Said Joanna Baron, a sales clerk at a station food stand: “Two policemen walked up to Grams, who was lying motionless. One bent over and shot him several times from close up. Then the second officer shot at Grams, but more at his stomach and legs. He shot several times.” The subsequent medical examination supported eyewitness accounts : it showed that the shot that caused the fatal wound to Grams head was fired from close range.   [return to text]

[2] BGS; the German border police.  [return to text]

[3] BKA: the Federal Criminal Agency. [return to text]

[4] BAW: Public Affairs Office. [return to text]

[5] On March 27, 1993, the Katharina Hammerschmidt Commando of the RAF bombed a newly constructed high-tech prison in Weiterstadt causing millions of dollars in damage and completely destroying it. The communiqué for this action can be read at http://www.germanguerilla.com/red-army-faction/documents/93_03_27.html [return to text]

[6] Eva-Haule Frimpong, a RAF prisoner captured in 1986. [return to text]