German Autumn

From Academic Kids

The German Autumn (German: Deutscher Herbst) is a set of events revolving around the abduction of Hanns-Martin Schleyer and the hijacking of the Lufthansa airplane "Landshut" by the Red Army Faction (RAF) and the PFLP respectively in autumn 1977.

On September 5, 1977, an RAF "commando unit" assaulted Hanns-Martin Schleyer, then president of the German employers' association, in Cologne. His driver and bodyguard were immediately killed, and Schleyer was held prisoner in a rented apartment in a rather anonymous residential neighborhood near Cologne. He was forced to appeal to the moderately-leftist German government of Helmut Schmidt that the first "generation" of RAF members, then imprisoned, would be exchanged for him. Police investigations to find out where Schleyer was being hidden failed.

When it became clear that the government was unwilling to repeat a prisoner exchange after their experiences two years earlier following the kidnapping of Peter Lorenz, the RAF tried to exert additional pressure by hijacking the airplane "Landshut" with the help of the allied Palestinian terrorist group PFLP. After a long odyssey through the Arabian Peninsula and the murder of Captain Jürgen Schumann the terrorists and their hostages landed in the Somalian capital Mogadishu.

After political negotiations with the Somali leader Siad Barre the German government was allowed to assault the plane. This happened on October 18 through the special task force GSG-9, which had been formed after the 1972 Munich Olympics' hostage crisis. All hostages were freed without injuries, out of the four terrorists only one survived.

As a reaction Hanns-Martin Schleyer, brought to Belgium through the Netherlands, was shot and killed by his kidnappers. At the same time founding RAF members Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin, and Jan-Carl Raspe, all imprisoned in Stuttgart-Stammheim, committed suicide. 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. Though all official inquiries on the matter suggest that this was not the case, the rumor persists in radical leftwing circles.

One consequence of the German Autumn was that the German government stated that it would never again negotiate with terrorists.

de:Deutscher Herbst no:Den tyske høsten


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