by Michael Ryan[This article was published is New Studies on the Left, Vol. XIV, Nos. 1 & 2 (1989). The author wrote it after a period of living in
May 4, 1988
Julio Rosado, a member of the Moviemiento
de Liberación Nacional (MLN), spoke in Montréal,
addressing the topic Resistance and Repression in Puerto
Rico. Talking about the Lexington
Control Unit, in
which Puerto Rican Prisoner of War Alejandrina Torres and two political
prisoners, Silvia Baraldini
Susan Rosenberg, were being held, Rosado said something i’d heard
have heard since. He referred to
several extended visits to
As I began to look at the issue, to search for a way to clarify what exactly this model entailed, i began to find the context in which said model had to be placed, if we were to begin to understand it, was much broader than my previous understanding had allowed.
Stammheim is not simply an architectural construct, a building; of that fact I had always been clear. Nor, however, is Stammheim simply a model for imprisonment. It is that and much more. Stammheim is a terrain of struggle between western imperialism and international anti-imperialism. As it was formulated by Andreas Baader in 1974:
(T)he dead-wing is only a means in a strategy, isolation is only a terrain.... (I)solation is only the reaction of the prison system.
and is the logical, perhaps inevitable, result of the restructuring of
Europe in general and
is all that and more. Stammheim, the
Stammheim of von Trotta’s Marianne and
Julianne, of Reinhard Hauff’s Stammheim,
the Stammheim of countless left analyses in
What follows is neither a complete history nor a definitive analysis, it is simply an attempt to establish the parameters of this “Stammheim Model.” As an example of what might be called judicial counterinsurgency, Stammheim presents much worthy of our attention.
spite of the
Chinese and Vietnamese revolutions, the theatre of the Cold War was
goal was, in keeping with the Truman Doctrine, the creation of an
anti-communist bulwark in
guaranteed the expansion of
was the foundation of the military
facilitated, through the control of
force of the constitution, the “basic law,” in May 1949, and the
August of the same year were a pure formality.
The de facto division of
financial assistance offered by the Marshall Plan,
It is against this background that we must see the tragedy of the integration of the West German working class into the capitalist system and the loss of political strength.
Throughout the fifties and sixties all was peaceful on the labour front. Throughout this period the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the trade union leadership worked hand in glove with capital to contain any nascent unrest, the SPD pushing forward social programs, such as improved pension and medical plans, in exchange for moderation in wage demands. However, with the oil crisis of 1973, the SPD was forced to institute an austerity program. Nonetheless, it was not until 1975-76 that wages suffered a real decline for the first time, spelling the end of the “miracle.”
earlier, the Marshall Plan was not simply an economic project, but had
important military component. From the
very beginning it was intended that
army has not been founded to guarantee the safety of
function is much more than theoretical.
aspects of the Marshall Plan were carried out with little or no
government responded favourably to a
But the first seeds of the conflict that would smash Modell Deutschland’s progressive image had been planted.
While both the economic and military aspects of Modell Deutschland were, to a greater or lesser degree, formulated in and in some cases against public sentiment, the model had another equally important aspect, which was much more subterranean in its formulation. Ona Zukumpft describes it this way:
last part in the Modell Deutschland
comes out of the tube: Sicherheitsstaat,
It is this aspect of Modell Deutschland that bears most directly on the topic under discussion here. Werner Hülsberg has stated:
(A)lliance with the
As we shall see, this anti-communism was far from simply a conceptual formulation; rather the legal structure of West German “constitutional democracy” has from its inception aimed to prevent and/or annihilate all left opposition (while consistently treating neo-nazi opposition much less harshly).
was founded in 1949 the penal code of the Third Reich remained in force. The Korean War, which began on
to go as far as
target of these statutes became clear with due haste.
the KPD began on
It is worth noting in passing that neither the NPD, the key neo-nazi party, which fields candidates in elections, nor the associations of former SS officers have ever been illegalized.
Basic Law cast its net much wider than the KPD.
The high court’s June 4. 1955 ruling on the constitutionality of the general strike exemplifies the essential nature of the Basic Law.
restricted in area , or limited to a particular, non-vital branch of
or activity will not normally constitute the use of force against
organs of the
constitution, since compulsion cannot be achieved in this way. With mass or general strikes, however, it is
different. In a highly industrialized
and thickly populated country like the
No action in a strike which goes beyond the cessation of work and violates interests protected by the law is justified by the so-called strike law
Student Union (SDS), the student wing of the SPD, was founded in 1946
functioned primarily as a training ground for the future elite of the
party. Helmut Schmidt,
and 1961 the SDS took a series of positions that placed it in
opposition to the
SPD. As well as anti-nuclear and
anti-military positions, they adopted a position supporting
years following the expulsion, the SDS was silent, turned inward,
elaborate a consistent analysis and strategy.
When the SDS returned to the public forum it was as a
anti-imperialist organization influenced by the experiences of
crisis of 1966-67, which pushed unemployment to over a million for the
time, led to the formation of the so-called “Grand Coalition” of the
the Christian Democratic Party/Christian Socialist Party (CDU/CSU),
situation where former resistance fighter and SPD chief Willi Brandt
vice-chancellor alongside the old Nazi Georg Kiesinger and the extreme
right-winger Franz Josef Strauss was Minster of Finance alongside the
young luminary, Karl Schiller, who held the Economics portfolio. The disenchantment of
revolt was focused in
was not long in coming. On April 11,
1968 Josef Bachmann, a young right wing worker, shot Rudi Dutschke
once in the head, once in the jaw, and once in the chest.
Dutschke, who was recognized as the key
theoretician of the SDS and the
In response to this challenge the Bundestag passed the so-called “Emergency Powers Act” on May 11. While the Bundestag was speeding the Act through sixty thousand people gathered outside to protest against its inauguration. This law was meant to open up the movement to greater intervention. Article 10 of the Basic Law was altered to allow the state to tap phones and observe mail unhindered by previous stipulations requiring that the targeted individual be informed. Provisions were introduced in particular for the telephone surveillance of people suspected of preparing or committing “political crimes,” especially those governed by the catch-all Paragraph 129 of the penal code, illegalizing the “formation or support of a criminal association.” The “Emergency Powers Act” also inaugurated the use of clandestine photography, “trackers,” and the so-called “V-men,” undercover informants and provocateurs.
In the same time period, as was the case with most western “democratic” powers, financial support for police forces involved in political control began to increase in an unprecedented way. The following charts demonstrate this quite graphically.
||Posts||Total Expenditure (DM 000,000)||Comparative Figures|
2. Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Vefassungsschutz)
||Posts||Total Expenditure (DM 000,000)||Comparative Figures|
1970 when the SDS dissolved the
consequences were the reform of education; a new Ostpolitik;
the deconstruction of the authoritarian patriarchal relations in the
school, factory and public service; the development of state planning
economy; a greater integration of women into professional life and a
sexual legislation. ...
the APO led to the formation of a veritable alphabet soup of Maoist
and, to a
lesser degree, Trotskyist sects, none of which was to last out the
well as to the reformation of the banned KPD under a new name, DKP, but
boasting the same program and leadership.
As well, and most important to our discussion, a section of the
chose to take the struggle against
underground tendency had its earliest manifestation in the firebombing
the RAF patiently constructed their organization, a period during which
clashes with the police occurred, leaving two members dead and many
prison. Finally in May 1972 the RAF went
into action in a series of events that were to become known as the “May
Offensive.” On May 11, the day the
offensive the West German state mobilized one hundred and thirty
supported by both West German and
Having captured the individuals they felt were the ideological leadership of the RAF, the West German state set in motion the second element of their counterinsurgency project, the so-called “Stammheim Model.” The removal of the perceived leadership of the RAF from the field of conflict was not sufficient. They were to be destroyed, rendered ineffective not only as combatants, but also as spokespeople for anti-imperialist resistance. If at all possible, they were to be deconstructed as human beings and reconstructed as representatives of the counterinsurgency project. If the latter was not possible, as a bare minimum, they were to be destroyed. The weapon for this campaign was complete and total isolation, both from each other and from the outside.
As of April 11, 1973 Holger Meins was held in single isolation in a prison wing where the cells above, below, to the left, and to the right of him were empty. His cell was searched daily. He was denied all group activities including church. And he was shackled whenever he left his cell.
was held under similar conditions from the day of his arrest (June 2,
and Astrid Proll were both held in the so-called “dead wing.” The “dead wing” consists of acoustically
sealed cells painted bright white with a single grated window. The cell is lit 24 hours a day with a single
bald neon light. It is forbidden for the
prisoner to hang photographs, posters, etc. on the walls.
The only minimal contact with another human
being is when food is delivered.
Otherwise the prisoner lives 24 hours a day in a world with no
variations. Meinhof was held in these
conditions for two hundred and thirty-seven days following her arrest
As well as this internal isolation, the RAF prisoners were (and are) subjected to extreme isolation from the outside. They were limited to visits from lawyers and family members. Visits from family members were (and are) overseen by two state security employees who record all conversations. The contents of such conversations have been entered into trials, sometimes following analysis by a psychologist. All political letters, books, and packages are withheld.
Since 1975 all prisoners arrested under §129 in connection with “political crimes” are held under the so-called “24 Point Program.” This program specifies, among other things, that the prisoner is banned from all common activities. The prisoner receives one hour of solitary yard time per day, which is immediately interrupted is s/he fails to heed an order, insults a staff person, or causes any damage. The prisoner may keep twenty books in her/his cell. Visits are limited to people cleared by the authorities and are for a maximum of thirty minutes each (the standard is two such visits a month). It is prohibited to discuss activities of the so-called “terrorist scene” or its support groups (the latter is a grab bag for all left organizations), prison revolts, or hunger strikes. All visitors are searched, and this extends to lawyers as we shall see.
In a statement regarding these isolation wings Till Meyer and Andreas Vogel, both having been subjected to these conditions for years, wrote:
With the isolation wings, years of isolation has been carried to the extreme and the process of extermination has been perfected: the perfection of spatial limitation and the total isolation, electronic observation with cameras and microphones (openly in each cell) - and we are guarded by special corps (corps who are trained in psychology and conditioned through BKA training).
They further added:
The isolation wings are the scope, means, and method of physical and psychological destruction - if one is eventually released, then s/he must be incapable of further resistance. THAT IS THE FRONT LINE AGAINST WHICH WE ARE MOBILIZING, AGAINST WHICH WE ARE STRUGGLING. Isolation wings are, as such, also a clear example of the conflict between the guerrilla and the imperialist state.
Isolation aims at desocializing prisoners from every social relationship including their history, their history above all. ... It makes the prisoner unconscious or kills her/him.
Wilfried Rasch, a prison psychiatrist who examined the Stammheim prisoners, had this to say about the isolation conditions in which they were held:
The high security wing has simply the quality of torture, that is to say, an attempt through special measures, as such, to achieve something amongst the prisoners through difficult or unbearable conditions, that is to say, a change of heart, a defection.
Even the visits which are permitted are designed to add to the prisoners’ stress-level. Eberhard Dreher describes the closed visiting conditions as follows:
(T)he screen offers a pretense of contact, simultaneously limiting the contact to visual contact and making the contact unfamiliar due to the reflective quality of the glass. ... Further pain is created by the lack of air and the particular acoustics. The construction of ventilators would rectify this problem. ... To make oneself understood, one must speak very loudly. One’s own voice within the aquarium-like cabinet is amplified into an acoustic mountain crashing down directly onto one’s own head.
Dreher further describes the effect of one such visit with his lawyer as follows:
After ... 40 minutes, I had a splitting headache and, with the consent of my lawyer, had to break off the visit. I had a headache, needed air, was fed-up, wanted to be in my cell in peace.
In its July 8, 1978 “Decision” the “European Commission of Human Rights” noted the following effects on the health of Gudrun Ensslin, Jan-Carl Raspe, and Andreas Baader as a result of their prolonged imprisonment under conditions of single or small-group isolation:
(i) State of health
In September 1975:
19. The applicants are in a state of physical and mental exhaustion (Dr. Mende). Their blood pressure is low. Their weight is about 70% of that of a normally healthy person of the same age and build (Dr. Müller). They present the following symptoms in varying degrees: problems of concentration, marked fatigue, difficulties of expression or articulation, reduced physical and mental performance, instability, diminished spontaneity and ability to make contacts, depression (especially noted by Dr. Rasch).
In April 1977:
20. The decline in both physical and mental health is very pronounced in Ensslin (concurring opinion by Dr. Rasch, Dr. Müller, and Dr. Schröder): loss of weight, very low blood pressure, premature aging, severe difficulties of expression and lack of concentration, motor disturbances. The deterioration in the condition of Baader and Raspe is perceptible, though less spectacular: Decrease in activity and spontaneity, emotional regression, problems of articulation, hesitancy in speech. They are nevertheless fit for detention.
(ii) The Causes
21. The experts ascribe the applicants’ state of health to a series of factors and circumstances: the particular conditions of their imprisonment, the length of the detention on remand, hunger strikes, tension generated by the trial and the applicants’ wish to defend themselves, etc.. The importance attached to these different factors varies from one report to another.
The particular conditions of imprisonment
22. There is no sensory isolations strictly speaking, such as can be brought about by a substantial reduction in stimulation of the sensory organs. On the other hand, the applicants are subjected to evident social isolation. The international literature on criminology and psychology indicates that isolation can be sufficient in itself to gravely impair physical and mental health. The following conditions may be diagnosed: Chronic apathy, fatigue, emotional instability, difficulties of concentration, diminution of mental faculties, disorders of the neuro-vegetative system. Opinions differ on the precise scale of these phenomena. There are no reports in the literature of situations comparable to that of the applicants (Dr. Rasch), affording a better assessment of the psychiatric effects. From the standpoint of internal medicine, certain analogies can be found in case-studies of elderly and isolated persons, persons kept alive artificially in intensive care units, and long-term prisoners (Dr. Müller and Dr. Schröder). However, certain experts state that they have little personal experience of the physical and mental effects of normal imprisonment (Dr. Müller and Dr. Schröder).
Although the commission found that “there is no sensory isolation strictly speaking,” the deterioration in the prisoners’ health speaks for itself.
If the results of imprisonment in the isolation wing are horrifying, isolation in the dead-wing is even more destructive. Ulrike Meinhof’s description of the result of her prolonged imprisonment in the Cologne-Ossendorf “dead-wing” bears printing in its entirety.
From the period June 16, 1972 to February 9, 1973:
The feeling, one’s head explodes (the feeling, the top of the skull will simply split, burst open) -
the feeling, one’s spinal column presses into one’s brain -
the feeling, one’s brain gradually shrivels up like, for example, a baked fruit -
the feeling, one is uninterruptedly, imperceptibly, under a torrent, one is remote-controlled, one’s associations are hacked away -
the feeling, one pisses the soul out of one’s body, like when one cannot hold water -
the feeling, the cell moves. One wakes up, opens one’s eyes: the cell moves; afternoon, if the sun shines in, it suddenly remains still. One cannot get rid of the feeling of motion -
One cannot tell whether one shivers from fever or from cold -
one cannot tell why one shivers - one freezes.
To speak at a normal volume requires an effort like that necessary to speak loudly, almost like that necessary to shout -
one can no longer identify the meaning of words, one can only guess -
the use of sibilants -s, -ss, -tz, -sch - is absolutely unbearable -
guards, visits, the yard seem to one as if they are made of celluloid -
sentence construction, grammar, syntax - can no longer be controlled.
When writing: two lines - by the end of the second line. one cannot remember the beginning of the first -
the feeling, internal burn-out -
the feeling, if one wants to say what’s wrong, if one wants to let it out, it’s like a rush of boiling water that scalds one forever, that disfigures -
raging aggressivity for which there is no outlet.
That’s the worst.
Clear consciousness that one has no possibility of survival; a complete breakdown of the capacity to mediate this; visits leave nothing. A half an hour later one can only mechanically reconstruct whether the visit was today or last week -
compared to this, bathing once a week means; a momentary thaw, a moment of rest - to stop for a couple of hours -
the feeling, time and space are interlocked -
the feeling, to find oneself in an amusement park house of mirrors - to stagger -
Afterwards: awful euphoria, that one has heard something - beyond the acoustic day and night differentiation -
The feeling, time now flows, the brain expands, the spinal column sinks down after weeks.
The feeling, as if one’s skin is thickening.
Pieter Bakker Schut, a Dutch lawyer who has served as defense counsel for prisoners from the RAF and who is the author of the authoritative book regarding the counterinsurgency developments in Stammheim, which is simply titled Stammheim, notes that the isolation conditions in West Germany pose a problem on two different levels from a legal perspective, that is to say, on both the level of internationally recognized human rights, as well as on the basis of international law governing the treatment of prisoners.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
ratified by the United Nations Organization (UNO) on
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishment.
1. For the purposes of the Declaration, “torture” means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted by or at the instigation of a public official on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating him or other persons, ...
was again ratified by the UNO in the Convention
Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or
further recognized the special danger of torture faced by political
and addressed it in Resolution 32/121,
ratified at the 105th Plenary Meeting,
Aware of the fact that in many parts of the world numerous persons are detained in respect of offenses which they committed, or are suspected of having committed, by reason of their political opinions or convictions,
Noting that these persons are often exposed to special dangers as regards the protection of their human rights and fundamental freedoms,
Realizing, therefore, that special attention should be given to the full respect of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of these persons,
(The General Assembly)
1. Requests Member States:
(B) To ensure in particular, that such persons are not subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment...
principles of the UNO Conventions and
Declarations are echoed in the European
Convention on Human Rights, ratified in
No one shall be subjected to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Based on the principles outlined in the previously quoted documents and other similar documents, “Amnesty International” (AI) in 1973 pinpointed the following four elements constituting torture:
In the first place the nature of torture assumes the involvement of at least two persons, the torturer and the victim, and it carries the further implication that the victim is under the physical control of the torturer. The second one is the basic one of the infliction of acute pain and suffering. ... Definitions that would reduce torture to physical assaults on the body exclude “mental” and “psychological” torture which undeniably causes acute pain and suffering, and must be incorporated in any definition.
Thirdly there is implicit in the notion of torture the effort by the torturer, through the infliction of pain, to make the victim submit, to “break him.” The breaking of the victim’s will is intended to destroy his humanity, and the reaction to the horror of this finds expression in various human rights instruments in such phrases as “respect for the inherent dignity of the person.
Finally torture implies a systematic activity with a rational purpose....
As such AI adopts the following definition of torture:
(T)he systematic and deliberate infliction of acute pain in any form by one person on another, or on a third person, in order to accomplish the purpose of the former against the will of the latter
AI further notes:
(In a) situation of a public emergency or state of war (the European Convention on Human Rights) permits the suspension of most basic human rights. However, is specifically holds that “no one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
Finally AI concludes:
It can safely be stated accordingly, that under all circumstances, regardless of the context in which it is used, torture is outlawed under the common law of mankind. This being so, its use may properly be considered to be a crime against humanity.
Having defined torture and having concluded that it is uniformly in violation of all accepted international law, AI puts forward Biderman’s Chart of Coercion as a guide to activities that constitute so-called “clean torture.” Developed in the post-Korean War period, it catalogues eight such categories of behavior, which have as their objective the “brainwashing” of the detainee.
BIDERMAN’S CHART OF COERCION
victim of all social supports of
his ability to resist.
Develops an intense concern with self.
Makes victim dependent upon interrogator.
Complete solitary confinement.
attention upon immediate predicament;
Eliminates stimuli competing with those controlled by the captor.
Frustrates all actions not consistent with compliance.
Darkness or bright light.
Induced debility; exhaustion
physical ability to resist.
Exploitation of wounds.
anxiety and despair.
Threats of death.
Threats of non-return.
Threats of endless interrogation and isolation.
Threats against family.
Mysterious changes of treatment.
positive motivation for compliance.
Hinders adjustment to deprivation.
Fluctuations of interrogation attitudes.
Rewards for partial compliance
Pretending cooperation taken for granted.
Demonstrating complete control over victim’s fate.
cost of resistance appear more damaging
to self-esteem than capitulation.
Reduces prisoners to “animal level” concerns.
Personal hygiene prevented.
Filthy, infested surroundings.
Insults and taunts.
Denial of privacy.
Enforcing trivial demands.
habit of compliance.
Enforcement of minute rules.
(I)n view of the undisputed harmful effects of isolation on the health it is essential that the health of prisoners in isolation should be regularly monitored, even where it is claimed by the authorities that the conditions are self-inflicted, and that the prisoners concerned should have the option of consulting doctors outside the prison system.
understanding of their role as a metropolitan section of the
anti-imperialist guerrilla movement (a role reflected in the previously
described attacks in response to the carpet bombing and the mining of
In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:
(1) Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of the armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other case, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any similar criteria.
To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above mentioned persons:
(a) violence to life or person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;
(b) taking of hostages;
(c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;
(d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.
(2) The wounded and the sick shall be collected and cared for. An impartial humanitarian body, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, may offer its services to parties to the conflict.
The parties to the conflict should further endeavour to bring into force, by means of special agreements, all or part of the other provisions in the present Convention.
The application of the preceding conventions shall not affect the legal status of the Parties to the conflict.
All Prisoners of War, in the sense of the present Convention, are persons belonging to one of the following categories, who have fallen into the power of the enemy:
(1) Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict as well as members of militias or voluntary corps forming part of these armed forces;
(2) Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that these militias or volunteer corps, including these organized resistance movements, fulfill the following conditions:
(a) that of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;
(b) that of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;
(c) that of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.
Prisoners of war must at all times be humanely treated. Any unlawful act or omission by the Detaining Power causing death or seriously endangering the health of a prisoner of war in its custody is prohibited and will be regarded as a serious breach of the present Convention. In particular, no prisoner of war may be subjected to physical mutilation or medical or scientific experiments of any kind which is not justified by the medical, dental or hospital treatment of the prisoner concerned and carried out in his interest.
Likewise, prisoners of war must at all times be protected particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity.
Measures of reprisal against prisoners of war are prohibited.
Grave breaches to which the preceding Article relates shall be those involving any of the following acts, if committed against persons or property protected by the Convention: willful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments, wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, compelling suffering or serious injury to body or health, compelling a prisoner of war to serve in forces of the hostile Power, or wilfully depriving a prisoner of war of the a fair and regular trial prescribed by the Convention
While at first glance, Article 4(A)(2)(b) and (c) might appear to pose some problems, the negatively restrictive nature of these clauses was recognized at a conference held in Geneva in May and June of 1971 to review the Conventions. Article 377 of the Report reads:
The experts in favour of improved protections for guerrilleros felt that the two conditions of 4(A)(2), namely the requirements of a permanent distinctive sign and the carrying of arms openly, was in contradiction to the very nature of guerrilla warfare.
Faced with isolation torture, a torture aimed at their destruction, the prisoners defined the conditions necessary for survival as follows:
These two conditions (access and openness) are critical, because they are the only guarantee against collective brainwashing. 
In discussions with an AI representative the prisoners gave concrete form to these conditions. They demanded open wings with open doors, common organizations, social relationships within the prison, and the abolition of isolation from one another.
On the basis of their points of reference, within the prison, offensive actions can only have a defensive character and are, according to their content, defensive actions.
Years later, Till Meyer, writing from the “dead-wing”, would express their goal this way:
Our demand - association of all prisoners - is the opposite of what the pigs offer us. Association means, above all, survival, collective political imprisonment, political identity, self-organization - while the dead-wing means annihilation.
While the hunger strike did not achieve a definitive victory for the prisoners, it did manage to break the wall of silence surrounding prison conditions. (As i write, the prisoners are in the midst of their tenth collective hunger strike in sixteen years around these demands.)  In April 1973 the “Committee Against Torture,” an organization supported by a wide spectrum of the West German intelligentsia, was founded for the express purpose of focusing public attention on the struggle of the prisoners against the destructive prison conditions.
was not long
before the committee got its first opportunity for public activity. On
(T)orture as a concept in and of itself and as the focus of a campaign is directed against the prisoners. Torture, as such, is not a concept for revolutionary struggle and can never organize useful protection for us, because torture is not viewed politically, but in moral terms, and appeals to those who can use it thusly. Torture as A CONCEPT FOR STRUGGLE, as such, as a concept FOR the prisoners, is only possible when its context is comprehended:
· the conditions of imperialism, the power cartel against which armed struggle is directed
· our politics, which torture seeks to eliminate
· the state against which we are struggling.
In a trial statement in June 1975 Andreas Baader found it necessary to criticize one of the defense attorneys, Otto Schily, in this regard:
We certainly can’t identify with the argument regarding torture as Schily formulates it in his petition. ... In not knowing what to do except torture when faced with revolutionary politics, the state proves itself to be an imperialist state. The indignation of the degenerate bourgeois anti-fascism only hides this fact. Bourgeois anti-fascism is so weak, so corrupted by social democracy, and so locked into revisionism that it can no longer express itself in a significant way.
We cannot talk about torture without talking about the contents and strategy that will eliminate it, which is the revolutionary political strategy.
May 24 the
prison authorities began withholding water from Baader, in what can
understood as an attempt to kill him.
After eight days without water and suffering kidney pains, a
throat, and problems with his vision, Baader was forced to end his
strike. Apparently pleased with their
success, the authorities targeted Bernhard Braun next, and on June 5
in the so-called “dry cell.” Nonetheless,
the hunger strike continued until June 29, when the
to destroy Ulrike Meinhof by subjecting her to two hundred and
days in the “dead-wing,” the state moved to directly and medically
brain. On the basis of an operation to
remove a tumour which Meinhof had undergone in 1962, the federal
theorized that her behavior might be the result of some problem with
brain. In a letter dated
The Third Hunger Strike - The Death of Holger Meins
Force-feeding was not meant to save the lives of the prisoners but as a form of torture. Adelheid Schulz described the effects of force-feeding as “hours of nausea, a racing heartbeat, pain, and effects similar to fever. At times one experiences hot flashes; then one is freezing cold.” In the case of Meins, who died of starvation on November 9, force-feeding was clearly never meant for any purpose other than torture. For the last two weeks of his life he only received between 400 and 800 calories daily, and in the last four days of his life, he never received more than 400 calories a day. For the prisoners and their supporters Meins’ death was quite simply a murder in the context of a state security war against the prisoners.
On November 10, the day after the death of Holger Meins, the “2nd of June Movement” shot and killed the president of the West Berlin Supreme Court during a kidnapping attempt meant to avenge the death of Meins and support the demands of the hunger striking prisoners.
On November 26 the state responded to this with the so-called “Aktion Winterreise” (Action Winter Trip), targeting 23 people as members of a “criminal organization” and accusing the lawyers for the RAF prisoners or organizing an illegal communication network, the alleged role of which was to permit communication between prisoners, as well as between prisoners and active commandos on the outside. The state built up its “evidence” for these claims via a series of cell raids and raids of the offices and dwellings of lawyers. While the contents of letters and documents seized during the raids were manipulated in the media to present the image of a far-reaching “terrorist conspiracy” involving lawyers as well as their clients, the real goal of this frontal assault was clearly an attempt to deprive Gudrun Ensslin, Ulrike Meinhof, Jan-Carl Raspe, and Andreas Baader, the remaining four prisoners (Holger Meins now being dead) of what the state viewed as the leadership of the RAF, of lawyers as their trial approached. Through a barrage of new laws, “refinements” of existing laws. and the expulsion of lawyers, the state attempted to create and largely achieved a condition in which the trial proceeded with the prisoners ill- or undefended, and often without their personal participation. A general idea of the parameters of this campaign can be drawn from the complaint filed by Ensslin, Raspe, and Baader to the “European Commission on Human Rights.” Although lengthy, it is succinct and I will quote the entire section dealing with the criminal proceedings here:
29. The applicants were arrested in June 1972 and
charged with several murders committed in May 1972 in Frankfurt,
agreement between the different prosecutors at the courts within whose
these offenses had been committed, the case was removed to the
31. Before the hearings opened, the applicants were deprived of the services of three of the four principal lawyers to whom they had entrusted their defense; only Mr. Schily was able to continue representing them. By an order of the Appeal Court of 22 April 1975, Mr. Croissant was permanently debarred from defending A. Baader, under the new Section 138(a) of the code of criminal Procedure, because he was suspected of supporting the criminal organization to which his client belonged.
against this order was rejected on
circumstances, Mr. Groenewold and subsequently Mr. Ströbele were
from defending Baader, even before the hearings began (orders of 2 and
32. The hearings opened on
After a short time, however, the applicants were incapable of following the discussion. Defense counsel then sought a ruling that the accused were unfit to attend the hearings.
were appointed by the
On 30 September 1975, the 40th day of the hearing, when it became impossible for the applicants to follow the discussion for more than three hours, the Appeal Court decided to continue the hearing in the absence, on the ground that the accused had by their own actions brought themselves to a state precluding their attendance at the hearings, within the meaning of the new Section 231 of the Criminal Code.
In support of this conclusion, the Court referred to the repeated hunger strikes, the refusal of any therapy administered by the prison doctors, the sleepless nights, the refusal of the accused to meet other prisoners and, in the case of C. Raspe, to take exercise with them.
appeal lodged against this order was rejected by a judgment of
33. On 4 November 1975, on the basis of the new Section 146 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Appeal Court refused to approve a new lawyer, Mr. Spangenberg, as defense counsel for Raspe, on the ground that he had already been appointed defense counsel for another member of the RAF due to appear before the Regional Court in Kaiserlautern. On the other hand, on an application by the Federal Public Prosecutor, the Court ordered Mr. von Plottnitz to be appointed ex officio Raspe’s lawyer on 7 November.
Later, the ex officio appointment of Mr. Heldmann, which had been effective since July 1975, was revoked by the Court because he was not participating in the regular course of the proceedings (Order of 13 January 1977).
34. The trial continued in the absence of the accused, principally represented at the hearings by their lawyers appointed ex officio.
During the month of July 1976, Judge Prinzig sent to Judge Meyer, a member of the 3rd Criminal Chamber of the Federal Supreme Court with appeal jurisdiction in these proceedings, photocopies of various parts of the criminal file, which Judge Meyer passed on to the editor of a major daily newspaper.
The challenge of Judge Prinzig, submitted as a result of this incident, was rejected. Judge Meyer, for his part was transferred to another chamber of the Federal Supreme Court.
At the end of January 1977, after 174 days of hearings, the 85th challenge of Judge Prinzig was accepted. He was replaced as the President of the Chamber by Judge Foth.
Among the main witnesses for the prosecution were former members of the Baader-Meinhof group.
35. After 191 days’ hearings, the applicants were
While an examination of the detailed way in which lawyers were systematically harassed, banned, disbarred, and in two cases driven underground, is too detailed for the space permitted here (i refer the interested reader with a grasp of German to Pieter Bakker Schut’s Stammheim; see footnote 53), I will, however, deal with the attack on Klaus Croissant, Christian Ströbele, and Kurt Groenewold; not because it is particularly novel, but because it contains within it virtually every tactic used by the state against the lawyers and is, as such, useful in elaborating an understanding of the parameters of the campaign.
It is clear that this series of exclusions, as well as those that were to follow, were meant to serve two functions. The first and most apparent objective was to prevent the prisoners from adequately defending themselves. However, a second, and in some ways more insidious function was served by these exclusions. By cutting the prisoners off from lawyers of their choice, the courts were able to further the isolation of the prisoners, who, already isolated from each other, were dependent on sympathetic lawyers for human contact, as well as for ongoing information regarding developments outside of the prison and for a modicum of political discussion. The existence of a so-called “information central” was not only threatening because of the dialogue it permitted, but was also counter-productive to the state’s objectives simply because it allowed dialogue and, as such, opened a hole in the brutal isolation conditions the government was attempting to perfect.
Unsatisfied with simply excluding the lawyers, the state moved to make examples of them. On June 23 the homes and offices of Croissant, Ströbele, and Groenewold, and a fourth defense attorney, Marie-Louise Becker, were raided. Ströbele and Croissant were arrested. Ströbele was released in late July, but Croissant was held on the basis that he was a “flight risk.” It would appear that the only reason Groenewold was not arrested was that he was already subjected to a “Berufsverbot” (Professional Ban), a legal maneuver which excluded any person who was a member of a “communist” organization from holding any civil service job. In August Croissant was released on 80,000 DM bail on the condition that he turn his passport over to the courts.
period of intense 24 hours per day open surveillance Croissant was
subject to a Berufsverbot and facing
a possible third arrest, Croissant fled to
In its ruling the court sent a clear message to anyone who might choose to represent a political prisoner.
A defense attorney is not only bound to defend the interests of his client using all legal means, but is also bound to protect the constitutional order and to conscientiously fulfill his duty as a lawyer. It is not part of the duties and the rights of a defense attorney to support and promote the self-conception and political identity of the clients which are directed against the established order or directed towards violence.
The parameters were clear; any lawyers who chose to use defense to open space for political discussion were faced with illegalization, Berufsverbot, and potentially imprisonment. As Andreas Baader formulated it in July 1975:
Socialist lawyers are in the grotesque position of being the last advocates of the bourgeois constitutional state.
In the early months of 1975 there were two actions in support of the prisoners.
April 24, at
approximately , the
Meins Commando of the RAF took over the West German embassy in
The lawyers for the prisoners responded to the alleged suicide almost immediately, calling a press conference. One of Meinhof’s attorneys, Michael Oberwinder, challenged the state’s claim that Meinhof was suffering from extreme depression.
I myself talked with Ms. Meinhof ... last Wednesday ... regarding the suits. There was not the least sign of disinterest on her part, rather we had an animated discussion in the context of which Ms. Meinhof explained the group’s point of view.
He further added:
If Federal Prosecutor Kaul, as it says here, speaks of a certain coldness between Ulrike Meinhof and Andreas Baader, that is a monstrous claim that doesn’t correspond to reality.
Defense attorney Otto Schily further posed some interesting questions:
Why didn’t they allow the attendance of a trusted doctor chosen by (Meinhof’s) sister to participate in the autopsy? Why the suspicious haste regarding the autopsy?
The defense attorneys closed their press conference by calling for the formation of an independent international commission of inquiry.
commission was formed and its results, delivered on
In examining the autopsy report the commission uncovered a series of medical contradictions. A group of English doctors studying the autopsy reports noted that the usual signs of asphyxiation, the normal cause of death in a suicide by hanging, were absent:
The report mentions neither bulging of the eyes or tongue, nor a cyanosis (bruising) of the face, habitual signs of death by asphyxiation. In spite of the fracture of the hyoid bone at the base of the tongue, there is no swelling of the neck in the area of the mark left by the “rope made from a bath towel” from which the prisoner was hanging. The negative results are irregular for a death by asphyxiation, that is the least we can say. On the other hand, they fit a death by pneumo-cartic compression very well, that is to say a death by pressure on the carotid artery, which can provoke death by a reflexive cardiac arrest.
In short, the evidence indicates that Meinhof was strangled to death before being hanged.
Further the autopsy results point conclusively to the fact that Meinhof was raped before she was murdered.
The two autopsy reports mention a marked edema in the external genital area and swelling of the two calves. The two reports mention an abrasion covered with clotted blood on the left buttock. The Janssen report also mentions an ecchymosis on the right hip. The chemical analysis for sperm had, according to the official statement, a positive result, in spite of the absence of spermatozoa.
Dr. Klaus Jarosch, a professor at the
It certainly does not appear to be a typical death by asphyxiation due to hanging....
Four different reports concur that Meinhof could not have used the prison towel in the way described to fashion a rope for hanging herself. Both the report of West German doctor Hans-Joachim Meyer, and that of the Stuttgart-based Criminological Technology Institute (KTU) note the discrepancy in the length of the described rope and the length they achieved when attempting to simulate the conditions of the hanging. RAF prisoner Ingrid Schubert notes that a rope fashioned from identical prison bath towels failed to bear a weight of more than fifty lbs. in repeated tests. Finally, a statement from the Stammheim prisoners notes that such a towel would not fit through the holes in the window grating.
As well, there were significant contradictions regarding a chair allegedly used in the hanging. The report of the legal doctor and that of the criminal police claim that the chair placed on top of a mattress was supporting Meinhof’s left leg. The chair is not mentioned in the report of Schreitmüller, a prison functionary, who explicitly stated, “I did not see a chair.” He even went as far as to state that the report of a chair, published in Spiegel, was false. Prison doctor Henck stated in his report, “The feet were 20 cm. from the floor.” Police reports mentioned neither the chair nor the mattress. The prisoners, in their statement, note that a chair on such an unstable base would surely have tipped as a result of reflex motions, and that such reflex motions would have caused severe bruising of the legs.
As well, important objects were missing from Meinhof’s cell in the inventory taken following her death. A blanket she always used and the clothes she had been wearing during the day were not found in her cell. The question also arises as to why a woman intent on committing suicide would change before doing so.
On the evening of her death the guard on duty removed all of the light bulbs from Meinhof’s cell, as was standard procedure. However, the May 10 inventory turned up a light bulb in Meinhof’s desk lamp. A test for fingerprints produced some partial prints, insufficient for positive identification, but in no way matching those of Ulrike Meinhof.
The way in which the autopsy was conducted also raises serious questions. Neither the prisoners not their lawyers were permitted to see the body before the autopsy. Professor Rauschke, the specialist in legal medicine chosen to conduct the autopsy, did so in such a way that a second autopsy was impossible. (Rauschke was the same “specialist” who failed to note the lesions on Siegfried Hausner’s skull, lesions that indicated his death was the result of a baton beating following his arrest.) He also failed to carry out histological and histamine tests which would have irrefutably established whether or not the cause of death was suicide.
Roadblocks of the same variety were encountered as regards the inspection of the cell. State Security denied lawyers Klaus Croissant and Michael Oberwinder, as well as Meinhof’s sister, the right to attend the inventory. Two days after the death the entire cell, including the window grating, was painted. This is not standard procedure. It was not until after this that lawyers and relatives were permitted to inspect the cell.
Given the mass of evidence the Commission concluded:
The totality of these contradictions, facts, and indications ... in the medical as well as the criminological field, exclude suicide as the cause of Meinhof’s death.
Pointing to the following statement made by Horchem, the head of the Verfassungsschutz, at a congress in May of 1975:
Through the lack of new ideologues of Ulrike Meinhof’s quality the continuation of the phenomenon of terror could be curtailed.
The Commission concluded:
It isn’t impossible that Ulrike Meinhof’s death has its place within the project of the Secret Service strategy to combat the RAF. In which case it would be her “suicide” which has the role of making clear to everyone to what degree her politics and those of the RAF have reached a dead end, and by her “suicide” she herself has recognized this dead end.
The Commission further noted that the murder of Ulrike Meinhof would be far from inconsistent with past treatment of RAF prisoners. Both Andreas Baader and Ronald Augustin had been deprived of water for extensive periods during hunger strikes. As well, they noted that Holger Meins, Katharine Hammerschmidt (who was denied medical treatment for cancer), and Siegfried Hausner had all died as a result of medical mistreatment.
The timing of Meinhof’s death also points to a counterinsurgency operation. On May 4 the prisoners filed demands for the production of evidence. The demands were aimed at unmasking specific political and union figures, and, in particular, at indicating that both Helmut Schmidt and Willi Brandt had ties to the CIA. As the Commission noted:
It is clear that the confrontation would have reached its culmination at this point in the trial.
These demands, as it turns out, were based on the work Ulrike Meinhof. Documents pertinent to this subject, as well as those pertinent to other work she was doing, documents which she always kept with her, were never seen again after her death.
The prisoners would subsequently insist that even the concept of institutional murder regarding Meinhof’s death was not precise enough. Rather, they argued, it was the execution of a revolutionary in the context of a military conflict.
Chief Federal Prosecutor Siegfried Buback was executed by the Ulrike
Commando of the RAF. Their
held him responsible for the deaths of Meins, Hausner, and Meinhof, and
indicated his key role in the counterinsurgency apparatus.
In response the BAW (Federal Prosecutors
Office) demanded and received the complete isolation of the prisoners
outside world including their lawyers.
Three days later the prisoners began a thirst strike and
prisoners from other prisons joined the hunger strike.
On April 20 nine prisoners in
On April 28 the trial of Ensslin, Raspe, and Baader ended with the court finding them guilty on all counts. The court concluded that all three were involved in all six of the “May Offensive” bombings (see pp. 9-10). The court also claimed that both Ensslin and Baader had played a special role in the RAF, both before and after their arrests.
the same day
Amnesty International sent a letter to the West German government
the prisoners under the UNO guidelines prohibiting torture (see pp.
14-15). In so doing they added their
voice to those of eighty theologists, one hundred and twenty-eight
On April 30 the Minister of Justice for Baden-Wurttemburg ruled that the prisoners’ demands for association be met. In response to these gestures the prisoners ended their hunger strike. Shortly thereafter work began on the seventh floor of Stammheim to allow the association of sixteen prisoners.
Throughout May, June, and July there were renewed partial hunger strikes due to lack of progress. On July 30 Jürgen Ponto, president of the Dresdner Bank, West Germany’s second largest bank, and a personal advisor to Helmut Schmidt, was shot and killed in a failed kidnapping attempted by a RAF commando that included his goddaughter, Susan Albrecht, a former member of the “Committee Against Torture.” Following Ponto’s death attacks on the prisoners increased.
August 8 the
prisoners renewed their hunger strike in response to the attacks. Some of the prisoners escalated to a thirst
strike almost immediately. On August 12
the state began force-feeding those prisoners who were thirst striking. Defense attorneys Ardnt Müller and Armin
Newerla began organizing a critical public response.
Press conferences and demonstrations were
On the night of August 14/15 Müller and Newerla’s office (previously Croissant’s office, which they had taken over) was destroyed in a bomb attack. The BKA claimed the attack had been carried out by the RAF, but, as Müller and Newerla pointed out, it was certainly a police action as the police had the office under 24 hour a day surveillance.
On August 20 Newerla, who was a member of the “Third International Russell Tribunal,” which was investigating “The Human Rights Situation in the Federal Republic of Germany,” was arrested along with six other members. All seven were held for 24 hours, photographed, and fingerprinted.
It should be noted that these arrests were consistent with the strategy for disrupting the Tribunal developed in a secret paper prepared by the Ministry of the Interior, which has since bee uncovered. The paper suggested influencing the outcome by infiltration; by influencing groups and individuals not to participate; by preventing the preparatory meetings and if possible the Tribunal itself; by withdrawing subsidies from groups that chose to participate; by influencing public opinion against the Tribunal; by subjecting participants to forfeiture of basic rights under Article 18GG; etc..
At the time of the arrests eighty copies of a magazine called MOB, which expressed a sympathy with the RAF, were found in Newerla’s car. The BAW used these copies of MOB as a basis to initiate preliminary proceedings against Newerla on a charge of “support for a terrorist organization” (§129a). On August 30 Newerla was re-arrested. Although he claimed that he had not been aware that the copies of MOB were in the car and that he was unfamiliar with its contents, he was to remain in prison until 1981.
On September 2 the prisoners broke their hunger and thirst strike. In a short statement Jan-Carl Raspe said the attacks on Ponto and the BAW had created an environment in which the state held the prisoners as hostages and were ready and willing to kill them to set an example. He also noted the support of Amnesty International for the prisoners’ demands as a positive breakthrough.
The Autumn of 1977 was to see a cumulative point in the conflict between the West German state and the RAF, in the context of which the parameters of the struggle between the prisoners of the RAF and the state, parameters which continue to reign until today, were to be established. This moment in history, known as “The German Autumn,” shook every sector of West German society to the core.
conflict began on September 5 when the “Siegfried Hausner Commando” of
kidnapped Hanns-Martin Schleyer. Schleyer
was the most powerful capitalist in
The commando demanded the release of eleven prisoners, including Ensslin, Raspe, and Baader, and their transportation to a country of their choice. On September 6 the state released a statement indicating that they would not release the prisoners under any circumstances. On the same day a total Kontaktsperre (communication ban) was instituted against all political prisoners. The Kontaktsperre law deprived the prisoners of all contact with each other as well as with the outside. All visits, including those of lawyers and family members, were forbidden. The prisoners were also denied all access to mail, newspapers, magazines, television, and radio. In short, the prisoners were placed in 100% individual isolation. The justification offered for the Kontaktsperre was a claim by the state that the prisoners had directed the kidnapping from within their cells with the help of the lawyers. They claimed to have found a hand drawn map used in the kidnapping in Newerla’s car on September 5. (Remember, Newerla had been imprisoned since August 30.) On September 10 lawyers lost their appeal of the Kontaktsperre. On October 2 the law entered into effect.
Ardnt Müller, the last of the lawyers from Croissant’s former
arrested. Accused of having worked with
Croissant and Newerla to recruit for the RAF, he was imprisoned under Kontaktsperre conditions. The
arrest was buttressed by the claim that
on September 2 Müller had used Newerla’s car, where the
aforementioned map was
found. (It was one day later that
Croissant was arrested in
the thirty-second day of the kidnapping, newspapers in
with negotiations deadlocked, a Palestinian commando, the Commando
Halimeh, hijacked a Lufthansa airliner traveling from
at the airliner
on October 15 Denis
that he had an “extremely important and urgent” message for the
Hausner Commando from the federal government in
, October 16, the
forty-first day since
the kidnapping of Schleyer, the deadline established in the October 14
ultimatum passed. At , in
on October 17 the
At , October 18 a government spokesperson publicly announced the resolution of the hijacking. At 8:01 AM Bölling announced the “suicides” of Gudrun Ensslin and Andreas Baader and the “attempted suicides” of Jan-Carl Raspe and Irmgard Möller. Raspe subsequently died of his wounds.
Schleyer’s body in the trunk of a car in the French border town of
In a paper entitled The Guerilla Movement, Resistance and the Anti-Imperialist Front, released in May 1982, the RAF summarized this conflict as follows:
In the summer of 77 the situation of the prisoners had grown to such a frenzy that we could no longer put off action of liberation. The prisoners were on a thirst strike and Gudrun was dying.
An examination of the contradictions surrounding the alleged “suicides” of Ensslin, Raspe, and Baader, contradictions no less numerous than in the case of Ulrike Meinhof’s death, leads once again tot he unquestionable conclusion that the deaths were murders, not suicides.
Baader and Raspe died as a result of bullet wounds, Ensslin as a result of hanging, and the sole survivor, Irmgard Möller, suffered repeated stab wounds inflicted with a kitchen knife.
As the two men were alleged to have shot themselves, some explanation as to where the guns had come from was necessary. On October 27 a spokesperson for the administration at Stammheim offered the necessary explanation. He stated that it is “not out of the question ... that one of prisoners’ lawyers passed the contraband articles to a prisoner during a visit.” Such an act was not only “out of the question,” it was flatly impossible. Before entering the visiting area lawyers have to empty all of their pockets and give their jackets to an employee for verification; they are body searched physically and with a metal detector. Prisoners are stripped naked and inspected and given a new set of clothes when entering and leaving visits with lawyers. Further, due to the Kontaktsperre, the lawyers had been unable to see their clients after September 6.
As regards Andreas Baader, a plethora of other irregularities a apparent. Baader is supposed to have shot himself in the base of the neck in such a way that the bullet exited his forehead. Repeated tests have shown that it would be virtually impossible for an individual to position a gun against their own body in such a way. Equally curious, there were three bullet holes in the cell. One bullet lodged in the wall, one in the mattress, and the third, the cause of death, lodged in the floor. Are we to presume Baader missed himself twice? As well, Baader had powder burns from the recoil on his right hand. Baader, however, was left-handed, and would surely have used his left hand to shoot himself. In the case of Raspe no powder burns were found at all. Powder burns always occur when firing a weapon.
As well as conveniently explaining the deaths, the gun smuggling theory served two further purposes. As of that time, all lawyers’ visits have been through a screen, a process which allows greater ease of aural surveillance, as well as depriving the prisoners of one of their last direct human contacts. The guards are now allowed to look through lawyers’ files “to prevent smuggling.” As well, both Newerla and Müller were tried and convicted of weapon smuggling in their 1979 trial.
In the case of Gudrun Ensslin similar contradictions presented themselves. The chair she allegedly used to hang herself was too far away from her body to have been used and the cable supporting her body would not likely have tolerated the weight of a falling body. As was the case with Ulrike Meinhof, the histamine test that would have established whether Ensslin was dead before she was hanged was never undertaken.
In search of an explanation for this mass suicide the state suggested that the prisoners realized there was no hope for their liberation following the storming of the hijacked airliner in Mogidishu and consequently chose mass suicide rather than life imprisonment. This explanation raises two questions. How would the prisoners, given the Kontaktsperre, have known about the developments? And, further, how would they have organized a group suicided under such conditions?
On October 20 authorities claimed to have “discovered” a radio in Raspe’s cell, a cell which he had only occupied since October 4 it should be noted. We are apparently expected to believe that, using the wall sockets, the prisoners constructed an elaborate communication system that allowed them to monitor the radio broadcasts and to communicate with each other.
This is only the first in a series of very useful “discoveries.” On October 22 two hundred and seventy grams of explosives were “discovered” in the prisoners’ wing. On November 12 a razor blade and three detonators were “found” in Baader’s cell. Finally, on December 12 a gun and ammunition were “found” in a cell formerly occupied by RAF prisoner Helmut Pohl. It is worth noting that the gun in question was a Colt .38, the model used by special police units.
Baader’s lawyer Hans-Heinz Heldmann, in the October 1977 issue of Arbeiterkampf, pointed to a curious and never adequately resolved mystery. At the time of his death, there was a large quantity of fine, light-colored sand on and in Baader’s shoes. The quality and quantity of the sand suggest that Baader had been flown to Mogidishu and then returned to Stammheim.
Irmgard Möller, the only survivor from the alleged group suicide
issued a statement claiming that she had not attempted suicide. She said that the last thing she heard before
going to sleep on the night in question was two muffled explosive
sounds. She was not aware of anything
until she awoke
some hours later feeling intoxicated and disoriented and having
concentrating. She further stated that
the prisoners had no contact with one another except by shouting
air vents in their cells or when going by each other’s cells on the way
from the yard. Finally, she said the
prisoners had absolutely no idea of developments in
Clearly the prisoners had anticipated the possibility of murders disguised as suicides. On October 7 Andreas Baader sent his lawyer the following letter:
As a result of the measures of the last 6 weeks and a few remarks from the guards one can draw the conclusion that the Administration of State Security, who - as a guard, who is now permanently on the 7th floor, has said - hope to provoke one or more suicides here, or, in any case, create the plausible appearance of such. In this regard, I stress: None of us - this is clear from the few words that we have been able to exchange at the doors in the last few weeks and from the years of discussion - have the intention of killing ourselves. Should we - again a guard - “be found dead,” we have been killed, as is the procedure, in keeping with the tradition of legal and political measures here.
Gudrun Ensslin had also written her lawyers stating:
I am afraid of being suicided in the same way as Ulrike. If there is no letter from me and I’m found dead; in this case it is an assassination.
independent international commission was ever formed to investigate the
deaths, the commission investigating the death of Ulrike Meinhof was
sitting at the time. They had several
interesting comments. They noted that on
incriminating evidence “turned up” by
prison authorities during the cell searches they approvingly quote from
press release of Irmgard Möller’s lawyer, Jutta Bahr-Jendgen, of
Why these inventories of the cells without neutral witnesses, without lawyers, these inventories which have produced receivers, radios, Morse code apparati, quantities of plastic explosives, and, why not?, atomic bombs?
further notes the existence of an uncontrolled entrance
to the seventh floor, which opened into the
cell area, and which was not visible from the guard’s office. This entrance was not acknowledged by
This signifies that - as citizens have been saying for some time - the functionaries of the BKA, the BND, and the Secret Services have a constant, uncontrolled access to the cells.
The cover-up was so glaring that the bourgeois daily, the Frankfurter Rundschau, wrote, in reference to the official investigation:
The Parliamentary Commission is faced with ... three sorts of witnesses: those who know nothing, those who don’t want to know anything, and those who aren’t allowed to make a statement.
postscript to all of this Ingrid Schubert was found hanged in her cell
Munich-Stadeheim prison on
When the dust settled after the events of 1977 the Modell Deutschland was unmasked, the “economic miracle” was dying fast, and the real meaning of Modell Deutschland, social control, was rapidly coming to the forefront.
decline was posing problems for the West German state, it was the
social-revolutionary movements, with their roots in the
Although there have been frequent challenges from a “misbehaving” rank and file to the bureaucratic disciplines of co-determination, the social partner to the state has in each case been able to arbitrate a way out, however temporary the solution. Such has not always been the case with demands and obstructions made by housing, women’s, anti-nuclear, anti-war, and multi-issue “alternative” movements. Here struggles with the Modell management are not over the size and shape of parts but over the parts themselves. In this sense they are non-negotiable. The macro-courthouse can no longer continue its sessions.
She further adds:
The open spaces staked out by squatted houses or by hut communities founded at the building sites of nuclear plants and NATO runways are significant not only because they have successfully blocked state priorities. The spaces of obstruction are at the same time a kind of counter-territory for the sustenance of new forms of social relations and of everyday life far from the lethal pragmatisms of the Modell Deutschland. Such a direct orientation of living space, space that has not been planned, space where little goes according to plan, space that goes against the plan, is bound to be “thwarting” for the master builders of West German prosperity. As the spaces of the new movements proliferated, the once safely administered margins were all of a sudden very close to home. With nothing to negotiate and with no way to talk, Schmidt ordered the distribution of “No Trespassing” signs. Meanwhile the macro-courthouse made a fluid shift from “soft” legalization to “hard” criminalization.
course, the Modell Deutschland had
promised security from the
beginning. Model security, far from a
jaunt by the
to neutralize this increasingly threatening “alternative” movement,
(A)ll citizens are required - under penalty of law - to carry at all times a code-numbered official identification card. The code numbers are entered into a central security computer net (with terminals in most local police stations), allowing the modern German security police a means of maintaining the population guaranteed to turn former Gestapo operations green with envy.
LaDuke also notes that the Verfassungsschutz has Special Circumstances Files on 2.5 million people or 1/24 of the population. To construct its files the Verfassungsschutz has 30,000 paid informers. They keep micro-film lists of all people who borrow left books from libraries. The Verfassungsschutz even surveills elementary and high schools.
The BND has 7.5 million “subversives” on file; that is 1/16th of the population. To amass these files, the BND received a 1000% budget increase from 1970 to 1980.
In total the police have collected two hundred pieces of intelligence on every citizen using the most sophisticated computer system in the world.
this vast security apparatus backed up with a draconian legal system
seen in a 1983 list of political prisoners being held in isolation
in West German prisons. Of the
seventy-four listed thirty-six are not from any underground
organization. Nine of these thirty-six
were arrested for
participating in demonstrations, nineteen were arrested for alleged
for a terrorist organization,” and eight are Turks who occupied the
I stated in
my introduction, if Stammheim is to be understood it must be understood
historical and social context. This
article has been an attempt to establish that historical and social
establish the place of the “Stammheim Model” within the larger Modell Deutschland. Having
established that base i will turn my
attention, in a forthcoming article, to the role of the federal
 Silvia Baraldini, an Italian citizen, who was charged in connection with a Brinks Robbery conducted by members of the Revolutionary Armed Task Force, a black led mixed race guerrilla organization active in the US in the eighties, until it was decimated by arrests, was returned to her native Italy to serve out the rest of her sentence in 1999, following a decade-long campaign to have her repatriated.
 Andreas Baader was a founding member of the West German anti-imperialist guerrilla organization the Red Army Faction (RAF) and one of the people that Stammheim was originally designed for.
Bakker-Schut, Pieter (ed.), Das
info: Briefe der Gefangenen aus der RAF,
1973-1977, Neuer Malik Verlag,
Hülsberg, Werner, The German Greens: A
Social and Political Profile, Verso,
Women Against Imperialist War (
 Hülsberg, op. cit., p. 17
 Ibid, p. 25. (All statistics from Hülsberg, except where otherwise noted.)
 Women Against Imperialist War, op. cit., p. 22.
 A play on words meaning no future in German.
Zukumpft, Ona, “Modell Deutschland: A
Good Future for Us?” in The German
Issue: Semiotexte, Vol. 4, No. 2,
 Hülsberg, op. cit., p. 15.
Cobler, Sebastien, Law, Order and
, Wolfgang, Helmut Ridder, Otto Schonfeldt (eds.), KPD Verbot oder mit Kommunisten leben, Rororo Taschenbuch Verlag, Hamburg, 1968, p. 38.
 Cobler, op. cit., p. 80
 Ibid, pp. 183-184.
Patrice Lumumba was a left wing leader of the Congolese national
movement. When the
 The V stands for Verfassungsschutz, the undercover police force whose name translates literally as “protection of the constitution.”
 Cobler, op. cit., pp. 171-172.
Ostpolitik was the name given to the
official West German state policy towards
 Hülsberg, op. cit., pp. 42-43.
 Ibid, p. 44.
Till Meyer and Andreas Vogel were members of the West Berlin-based
anti-imperialist organization the 2nd of June Movement.
Named after the date of the shooting of Benno
Ohnesorg in 1967, this group was first heard from in June 1972. On
 The Bundeskriminalsamt (BKA) or Federal Criminal Office is the West German equivalent of the FBI.
Gasammelte Texte der Bewgung 2. Juni, Vol. 2,
 Ibid, p. 682.
 Bakker Schut (ed.), op. cit., p. 218.
 Der Blues, op. cit., Vol. 1, p. 341.
 Ibid, p. 320.
 Ibid, p. 321.
European Commission of Human Rights, Decisions
and Reports, 14,
 Brückner, Peter, Ulrike Maria Meinhof und die deutschen Verhältnisse, Verlag Klaus Wagenbach, Berlin, 1976, pp. 156-157.
 United Nations Organization, Human
Rights: A Compilation of International
 Ibid, p. 210.
 Ibid, p. 213.
United Nations General Assembly Resolutions,
31st-33rd Sessions, 1976-1979 & 8th-10th Special Session, 1978,
Brownlie, Ian (ed.), Basic Documents on
Human Rights, Claredon Press,
Amnesty International Report on Torture,
Duckworth in association with Amnesty International Publications,
 Ibid, p. 31.
 Ibid, p. 33.
 Ibid, p. 34.
 Ibid, p. 44.
Amnesty International’s Current Work on the
Federal Republic of West Germany,
International Committee of the Red Cross, The
pp. 77-79, 83, 133.
 International Committee of the Red Cross, Conference of Government Experts on the Reaffirmation and Development of International Humanitarian Law Applicable in Armed Conflicts
24 May - 12 June 1971): Report on the Work
of the Conference,
Bakker Schut (ed.), op. cit., p. 211.
 Ibid, p. 213.
 Ibid, p. 142.
 Der Blues, Vol,. 2, op. cit., p. 684.
The tenth collective hunger strike lasted from Feb. 1 until
 Ibid, pp. 682-683.
 It is worth noting in passing that the same Otto Schily went on to become a leading figure in the so-called “Realo” tendency of the German Green Party, the tendency seeking rapprochement with the SPD, before finally leaving the Greens to join the SPD.
 Textes des prisonniers de la “Fraction Armée Rouge” et dernières lettres d’Ulrike Meinhof, Librairie François Maspero, Paris, 1977, p. 84.
Von der Zwangernährung zur “Koma-Losung,”
Bakker Schut, Pieter, Stammheim,
Neuer Malik Verlag,
 European Commission on Human Rights, op. cit., pp. 99-101.
 Bakker Schut, op. cit., pp. 157-158.
 Cobler, op. cit., p. 64. (According to official records 1,500,000 investigations were carried out under this law from the beginning of 1973 until mid-1975. In 3000 cases “Berufsverbot” was applied. In the remaining 1,497,000 cases files were opened as a first step.)
 Actualité de la Résistance Anti-Impérialiste, no. 3, Paris, June 6, 1978, pp. 8 and 10.
 It is worth noting in passing that after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet system in East Germany and throughout the former eastern bloc when the files of the Stasi, the former East German secret service, were made public it was discovered that Klaus Croissant had been on the Stasi payroll providing information on developments on the left in West Germany.
 Bakker Schut, op. cit., p. 539.
 Ibid, p. 316.
 Heissler and Mahler were members of the RAF; the remaining four were members of the 2nd of June Movement. All six were prominent members of the West Berlin APO from which the 2nd of June Movement had grown.
 La Mort d’Ulrike Meinhof: Rapport de la Commission international d’enquête, Librairie François Maspero, Paris, 1979, PP. 9-10.
 Ibid, p. 25.
 Ibid, pp. 28-30.
 Ibid, pp. 36-37.
 Ibid, p. 45.
 Ibid, p. 45.
 Ibid, pp. 45-46.
 Ibid, pp. 46-47.
 Ibid, pp. 47-49.
 Ibid, pp. 47-48.
 Ibid, pp. 62-64.
 Ibid, pp. 64-65.
 Ibid, p. 50.
 Ibid, p. 81.
 Ibid, pp. 81-82.
 Ibid, pp. 74-75.
 Willi Brandt and Helmut Schmidt were respectively the first two leaders of the post-war SPD. Helmut Schmidt was the Chancellor of Germany when these events unfolded.
 La Mort d’Ulrike Meinhof, op. cit., pp. 80-81.
 Ibid, p. 75.
 Bakker Schut, op. cit., pp. 474-475.
 The Agence France Press (AFP) is a media news service.
Libération (Special Issue),
 Ibid, p. 27.
 Ibid, p. 27.
 Ibid, p. 27.
 Ibid, p. 28.
 Ibid, p. 28.
 This paper is also known as “The May Paper.”
 RAF, “The Guerilla Movement, Resistance and the Anti-Imperialist Front” in Friends of Durrutti, Resistance, No. 7, Vancouver, 1984, p. 71.
Der Stammheimtod: Kampagne
gegen das Modell Deutschland,
 Ibid, pp. 13-14.
 Republished in a variety of sources in October 1987, the tenth anniversary of “The German Autumn,” my copy is a photocopy of the original which was circulated informally.
 La Mort d’Ulrike Meinhof, op. cit., p. 67.
 Ibid, pp. 55-58.
 Ibid, p. 68.
 Libération, op. cit, p. 43.
Tinnin, David B., “The Miracle Economy Hits the Skids,” in Fortune,
 Ibid, p. 137.
 Zukumpft, op. cit., pp. 270-271.
 Ibid, pp. 272-273.
 LaDuke, Winona, “Inside the New German Police State,” in Akwesasne Notes, Late Summer, 1984, p. 5.
 Ibid, p. 5.
 Ibid, p. 5.
 Ibid, p. 5.
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