Monday, October 29, 2007

Upping The Anti #5 Now Available from Kersplebedeb

Another issue of Canada's best radical journal of theory and action, or should we say activism...

That's two this year, for those keeping track...

here's a look inside:

  • Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Social Democracy and Anti-Capitalist Renewal in English Canada

  • The Fight for Feminism (Sunera Thobani)
  • The Tradition of Resistance, on Indigenous Anti-Colonialism (Gord Hill)
  • From the Perspective of Resistance (Michael Hardt)

  • Into a Black Hole: Tar Sands and Oil Production in Western Canada (Macdonald Stainsby)
  • Strength in Numbers? why radical students need a new organizing model (Caelie Frampton)
  • The Three Way Fight Debate, on Islam, Fascism and the Left, with Rami El-Amine and Michael Staudenmeier

Roundtable: You Can't Jail the Spirit
  • The Movement to Free Political Prisoners (Bryan Doherty and Tom Keefer)
  • Interviews with Ashanti Alston, Robert Seth Hayes, Susan Tipograph and Sara Falconer
Book reviews by Chris Harris (of Muhammad Ahmad’s We Will Return in the Whirlwind), Anna Feigenbaum (of Ward Churchill’s Pacifism as Pathology and Peter Gelderloos’ How Nonviolence Protects the State) and Matthew N. Lyons (of April Rosenblum’s The Past Didn’t Go Anywhere)

& don't forget those ever-interesting book reviews and letters to the editor...

You can order copies by emailing me at or to order by using paypal just click here:

$15 postage included

To order back issues you can also email me or else visit the Upping the Anti page on the Kersplebedeb website.

Friday, October 26, 2007

[Toronto] Nov. 8 Launch Party for Certain Days Calendar!

The Certain Days Freedom for Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War Calendar is having an official launching party in Toronto in a couple of weeks... put it in your agenda now!

(And if you don't live in Toronto, feel free to email me for copies of the calendar - or go here for more about it!)
Toronto Launch Party!

Certain Days: 2008 Freedom for Political Prisoners Calendar
Legacy of the Panthers

Friday, November 9, 2007
The Concord Cafe
937 Bloor Street West

$5 or $15 with a calendar

doors at 8 p.m.

with DJs
Nik Red (Afrotransit, CKLN 88.1FM)
Syrus Marcus Ware (Resistance on the Sounddial, CIUT 89.5FM)
Saira Chhibber (Superfly, CHRY 105.5FM)
Haque (Rose from Lal!)

Brought to you by Certain Days, CKLN, and the Prison Book Access Project

BRING BOOKS for the Prison Book Access Project: dictionaries, language books, general fiction, and popular/pulp fiction. Books should be softcover, newer than 1995 and in good condition.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Two New Pamphlets from Kersplebedeb

The Road Ahead and the Dialectics of Change
by C. Lundrum

The rather long subtitle of this short pamphlet reads: "applying the science of dialectical and historical materialism to the prison construct as it exists within California prison system today." And that is just what ths is: an attempt by a California prisoner to analyze the continuing deterioration in prison conditions and the possibilities of resistance, using the tools of dialectical materialism in the spirit of Mao. (Though for you anarchists who are wincing,i should point out that this aspect of Maoism has nothing inherently unanarchistic about it.) With an introduction by Ed Mead.

Kersplebedeb Publications
26 pages
ISBN 1-894946-26-X

The Theory and Practice of Armed Struggle in the Northwest
by Ed Mead

Examining the history, growing pains, and context of the George Jackson Brigade, a group of anarchists and marxist-leninists who between 1975 and 1977 carried out a series of bank robberies,and bombings in the Seattle area, and also successfully broke a comrade out of prison. Subjects examined include the political environment during the 1970s, the rationale of those engaged in armed actions against the State and a critique of the tamed left. Ed Mead was a member of the GJB who served a total of eighteen years in prison as a consequence of his activities. This text was written while he was incarcerated; it is published here for the first time.

Kersplebedeb Publications
45 pages
ISBN 1-894946-25-1


To order either of these pamphlets just send me an email at

For a complete list of pamphlets and books published and/or distributed by yours truly, visit the Kersplebedeb Literature page.

Incarcerated Six Nations Man Threatened by Institutional Staff

The following just in frmo Janie Jamieson at Six Nations:

Skylar Williams, a Mohawk Wolf from Six Nations has been held without bail at the Hamilton Barton St. Jail since the illegal arrests at Stirling Street September 19, 2007. Today we held a rally for him outside the jail where he has been in the "hole" for two days.

We have reason to believe if Skyler is harmed in anyway, we know he is the target of planned and deliberate threats and violence by jail institution staff members.

A few days ago Skylar woke up to find the plumbing in his cell on range 5 was backed up. He notified institution staff on his range. He was accused by staff of backing up the plumbing. The mess was left. Skylar asked for a drink of water, he was told by staff to drink from the toilet. Skylar responded, "there's sh*t" in there. The institution staff's paid professional advise to Skylar was to "take the sh*t out and then have a drink." Skylar refused and notified his lawyer of the situation. At this point Skyler was without clean water for approximately 18 hours.

Skyler's lawyer then notified another institutional staff member with a higher ranking position. The plumbing was fixed. Skyler left his cell but at lockdown upon his return, Skyler discovered the plumbing was mysteriously backed up again. The higher ranking institutional staff attempted to solve the problem by moving Skyler to another cell.

After this incident Skyler was approached by an institutional staff member and taken to a room with two other staff. At this point Skyler was told by the one of the staff that that particular staff member referred to himself as being "GOD" at Barton St. Jail. He then threatened Skyler by telling him if he and his lawyer didn't stop causing sh*$ for him, he was going to "fu*$" Skyler up. He also said he would have it arranged so Skyler's lawyer would have no access to him.

This staff member went on to inform Skyler of his plan to "fu*$" him up. (There were 2 other staff present when this threat occurred.) According to the staff member Skyler's fate is supposed to happen in three steps...

1. Skyler would be given a "misconduct" by the institutional staff.

2. Skyler would then be sent to the "hole" for 3 days.

3. After Skyler was done in the "hole" he would immediately be sent to the range 3 of the jail.

Range 3 is where the men who are waiting to be tried for rape, murder and other serious crimes are held. Some of these men have already been convicted of such crimes and are waiting to be shipped off to federal institutions.

This is where men who have nothing left to lose are sent. In this range the inmates do special favours for the institutional staff for as little as an extra meal or coffee. It's a place where you simply do not "rat" on the institutional staff. Inmates are pitted against one another. It's also a place where Skyler was told, there are men as big as 321 pounds that could really "fu*$" him up. (The jail staff asked Skyler how much he weighed just to verify Skyler would be quite smaller and at greater risk of being injured if sent to Range 3.)

Skyler was also told by the institutional staff the last guy they had "fu*$ed" up had to crawl to the jail cell door covered in blood. Skyler was told there were men in Range 3 "waiting" for his arrival. Skyler was advised by this paid government employee to "quit his bitc*ing" and "to take his lumps."

Skyler's lawyer spoke with the high ranking institutional staff and was told by him the only thing he could do to guarantee Skyler's safety was to put him in isolation where he would be under 24 hour video surveillance, however Skyler would have to give up the staff members' names who were threatening him.

Skyler's lawyer has already filed a motion for "habeus corpus" to have Skyler physically present in court tomorrow for his bail review.

Skyler's cell mate contacted his family this morning and informed them in the last 24 hours Skyler has been given a "MISCONDUCT" by staff and has been placed in "the hole" for 3 days.

The instituional staff member has kept his promise to threaten Skyler's life and safety. This staff member's plan is gone passed the first two stages.

Something needs to be done immediately to guarantee Skyler's safety and security. If there is interference in Skylers safety and security or if his life is put at risk we believe it would be the direct result of mistreatment at the discretion of institutional staff. We believe they are abusing their authority to ensure Skyler's life and well being is put at risk. We believe their attempts at intimidating Skyler are deliberate and being somewhat overlooked by senior institutional staff.

Let's hope Skyler will gets out of Barton St. Jail safely with his life. His bail review is at the Cayuga Courthouse tomorrow at 9:00am.

Please forward immediately.

niawen, skennen

Janie Jamieson
Six Nations

Same Old Same Old in Germany

a younger Rolf Clemens Wagner

Those of you who appreciated last week's installments about the Red Army Faction and the events of October 1977 may find the following of some interest.

As a result of an interview given to Junge Welt magazine last week, both the right-wing Bild Zeitung newspaper and former Federal Minister of Defense (CDU) Rupert Scholz are calling for charges to be laid against former RAF member Rolf Clemens Wagner. Specifically for "speech encouraging criminality" and "disparaging the memory of the dead". The former carries a maximum 2-year sentence, the latter 5 years maximum.

Wagner was one of those sought as a result of the actions carried out in the RAF's 1977 offensive. In 1978 he and several other RAF members were arrested in Yugoslavia, at the time a "communist" country. The Yugoslav government attempted to trade these RAF members to the West Germans in exchange for some Croatian fascists who were being held in West Germany. When the West Germans refused the Yugoslav authorities released the RAF prisoners to an undisclosed third country.

In 1979 Wagner was one of a number of RAF members involved in a bank robbery in Zurich, Switzerland in which two bystanders were tragically shot (as were two cops). He wad captured and sentenced to life in prison. He was later extradited to West Germany where in 1987 he was convicted of the murder of Hans Martin Schleyer - the business leader and former Nazi the RAF had kidnapped in 1977 - and sentenced once again to life in prison.

He served a total of twenty four behind bars, and was only released in 2003 when he received a presidential pardon as part of the State's attempt to put its conflict with the RAF to rest.

What Wagner said in the interview was really uncontroversial so far as i'm concerned, simple basic common sense. What is causing a fuss is his statement that:

In retrospect, many of our decisions seem correct even today. Take, for example, the decision to kidnap Hanns Martin Schleyer. He, with his SS history, acting as the business leader in the occupied zones and in his new role as strong-arm and President of the Employers Association; we didn’t chose him by chance.

For saying this, he now risks being prosecuted and possibly returning to prison.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

[Baltimore] 2007 Mid-Atlantic Radical Bookfair

This weekend in Baltimore: the 2007 Mid-Atlantic Radical Bookfair at 2640 Saint Paul!

Room Key:
SR=Sunday Room, main floor of 2640 Saint Paul Street
HPS=Heart's Place Shelter, bottom floor of 2640 Saint Paul Street
VLP=Village Learning Place, located at 2521 Saint Paul Street)

11AM: Mechthild Nagel and Drew Leder present Prisons & Punishment: Reconsidering Global Penality (SR)
Focusing on cross-national perspectives about penal theories and empirical studies, this book brings together African, European, and North American social philosophers, sociologists, political scientists, legal practitioners, prisoners, and abolitionist activists to reflect not only on the carceral society, notably the United States, but also on the reconceptualization of punishment.

11AM: Defy gender at the Girls Not Chicks Coloring Book Workshop! (HPS)
Have you ever wanted the chance to turn Sleeping Beauty into a national football hero? Hercules into a world-class jazzerciser? Make Bert and Ernie their very own queen-size bed that they actually get to sleep in together? Now's your chance! Let the synthesis of your feminist sensibilities and all the fairy tales that have hurt your feelings bring your radical imagination and creativity to a whole new level. Come hang out with other boys who always wanted to be the Little Mermaid, women who engineer dare-devil roller coasters, and a manifestation of genders in between. Join founder Jacinta Bunnell for a morning of D.I.Y. coloring books - and remember, this is an all-ages workshop!

11AM: Radical Information For All: Radical Public, Academic, and Independent Libraries and Services. (VLP)
A dialog on radical services provided by librarians and information advocates. Come talk about your favorite radical sources for information and hear about the exciting things that we're doing to get radical information out into the world. Conducted by: Chuck D'Adamo of Baltimore's Alternative Press Center collective, zine librarian Miriam DesHarnais from Baltimore County's Cockeysville Branch, and Lia Friedman from Radical Reference. The panel will be moderated by Jenna Freedman.

12PM: David Solnit on counter-recruitment and Army of None (VLP)
Bay-area activist and Seattle 1999 organizer David Solnit returns to Baltimore to discuss the Army of None project, an ongoing counter-recruitment effort based on the notion that the military recruitment complex insinuates itself into the daily lives of children and youth in ways most people are not aware of. Millions of dollars are poured into advanced marketing strategies; recruiters walk freely into classrooms with false promises of a way out of poverty. The Army of None Project argues that childhood should be free of military influence and the constant pressure to enlist. This is not just a way to protect our most valuable national resource -- children -- it is an effective way to take local action to provide equal opportunity and youth leadership training for those who bear the burden of fighting in Iraq and beyond.

1PM: Muhammad Ahmad (Max Stanford) presents We Will Return in the Whirlwind: Black Radical Organizations 1960-1975 (SR)
Former Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM) chairman Muhammad Ahmad (born Max Stanford) comes to Baltimore to present his new book We Will Return In the Whirlwind, an incredible first-hand account of the wave of Black resistance that swept the U.S. in the wake of the Civil Rights movement. From Malcolm X's last days to the radicalization of SNCC to the founding of the Black Panther Party and the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, Ahmad's new work tells the story of a consistently radical black organizing tradition whose goal was nothing less than a revolution in the U.S.

1PM: Anarchism and Marxism (HPS)
A discussion facilitated by the Open City Collective, part of the Northeastern Federation of Anarchist-Communists (NEFAC), a cross-border network for anti-authoritarian class struggle.

1:30PM: Stephen Duncombe on "Dreampolitik" (VLP)
What practical political lessons can we learn from corporate theme parks, ad campaigns, video games like Grand Theft Auto, celebrity culture, and Las Vegas? Stephen Duncombe, professor of the history and politics of media and culture at New York University, discusses his new book Dream: Re-Imagining Progressive Politics In An Age of Fantasy, and proposes that such examples of popular fantasy can help us define and make possible a new political future. Duncombe is the author of Notes From the Underground: Zines and the Politics of Alternative Culture and the editor of The Cultural Resistance Reader.

2PM: Unconventional Action (HPS)
Unconventional Action is an emerging network aiming to complement the work of local organizers in Denver and the Twin Cities with regional organizing throughout the rest of the country. Our goal is to build a horizontal, inclusive framework for protests that will disrupt the upcoming Democratic and Republican National Conventions. We are currently organizing meetings, propaganda, and consultas in our communities and encourage those in other regions to do the same.

3PM: Sylvia Federici & George Caffentzis on Rethinking War and the Struggle Against It In the Neoliberal Era (SR)
Sylvia Federici and George Caffentzis, both members of the radical academic Midnight Notes Collective, join together for a presentation in three parts that examines the purpose of war in modern society and the ways in which war affects the commons and current markets, and deals with the question on everyone's mind: "How can the anti-war movement escape its stalemate with the Bush Administration?"

3PM: Radical Reference: Community Librarianship and Free/Open Source Technology (HPS)
Gabriel Farrell and Jenna Freedman will discuss the public and technical sides of Radical Reference, a project that has librarians serving the information needs of activists and independent journalists online, in the street, and in the classroom. Radical Reference, hosted by InterActivist Network , uses open source software tools and publishes all of its materials on a Creative Commons license.

3PM: $pread Magazine on how activists can support sex workers (VLP)
$pread is a quarterly, glossy magazine by and for sex workers and those who support their rights. The magazine has a focus on personal experiences and political insights, and contains practical information like news, features, health columns, and resources related to the sex industry. $pread builds community in the sex trade by featuring the honest and diverse perspectives of those who know it best: the women and men who work within this sensationalized, highly stereotyped industry. Founded in the summer of 2004 by three women, the magazine has already garnered lots of press attention as well as winning the coveted Utne Independent Press Award for Best New Title of 2005 after only three issues. $pread actively confronts various stigmas surrounding sex work, raises awareness of legal and political issues affecting sex workers, and encourages support for the rights of all people working in the sex industries.

4PM: Update on Afghanistan from the Afghan Women's Fund (VLP)
Amena Shams is an activist of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) and has represented RAWA as a spokesperson on different speech tours to Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. Amena Shams has been a student of RAWA's school at an Afghan refugee camp in Pakistan and has a degree in Information Technology. She has taught literacy courses for Afghan women and remained as an administrator of RAWA schools in Islamabad for two years. Beside other political and social activities, she is now the Coordinator of RAWA orphanages that work closely with CharityHelp International on a "Child Sponsorship Program" ( She also writes for different RAWA publications; please read her latest article at (

4PM: (We may be able, handful that we are) To End the Racial Nightmare (HPS)
(A workshop based on: A Problem of Memory: stories to end the racial nightmare, led by Taylor Sparrow) Rooted in coversations with students, educators, organizers and historians, A Problem of Memory connects the "transportation" of Irish people to the New World with the Haitian revolution, John Brown's resistance against slavery, and present day struggles to end racial disparities. By sharing some of these stories, I hope to open up a dialogue about work that we are each involved in to tear down our racialized society, and to develop autonomous, peer relationships. What are the dead-ends? What are the starting points?

5PM: Ashanti Alston on international organizing (SR)
Ashanti Alston Omowali is an anarchist activist, speaker, and writer, and former member of the Black Panther Party. He was also a member of the Black Liberation Army, and spent more than a decade in prison after government forces captured him (and the official court system convicted him) for armed robbery. A former northeast coordinator for Critical Resistance, Ashanti is currently co-chair of the National Jericho Movement (to free U.S. political prisoners), a member of pro-Zapatista people-of-color U.S.-based Estación Libre, and is on the board of the Institute for Anarchist Studies.

5PM: Subverting the Service Industry with the IEF (HPS)
Description forthcoming!

5PM: The Real Battle In Seattle (VLP)
A panel discussion looking back at Seattle 1999, especially in light of the new Hollywood film due out this year (entertainingly titled, "Battle in Seattle").

10AM: Tools for Anti-racist Activists (HPS)
Through activities and discussion, this workshop will provide tools for identifying white supremacy and racism in individuals and organizations. Participants will explore white privilege in their own lives, and learn strategies to confront racism and work towards becoming an anti-racist ally.

12PM: Realizing the Impossible: Art Against Authority, with Erik Ruin (SR)
Red Emma's is thrilled to welcome Erik Ruin (street artist, puppeteer, and editor of the art/politics zine Trouble in Mind) back to Baltimore for a more in-depth presentation of his new anthology (co-edited with Josh MacPhee of the Justseeds project), Realizing the Impossible: Art Against Authority. The book is filled to the gills with articles and essays on the development and significance of anarchist art and artistic anarchism (including an article featuring Camp Baltimore's social justice trailer project).

12PM: Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts of Women in SNCC (VLP)
Baltimore organizer, Betty Robinson, and young organizers from the Baltimore Algebra Project, will read selections from the forthcoming book (or soon to be published book), Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts by Women in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) -- an anthology of 52 stories by women from SNCC.

1PM: Joy James presents Warfare in the American Homeland: Policing and Prisons in a Penal Democracy, with a special phone-in by former Black Panther and political prisoner Marshall "Eddie" Conway (SR)
The United States has more than two million people locked away in federal, state, and local prisons. Although most of the U.S. population is non-Hispanic and white, the vast majority of the incarcerated - and policed - is not. Contributors consider the interning or policing of citizens of color, the activism of radicals, structural racism, destruction and death in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, and the FBI Counterintelligence Program designed to quash domestic dissent. Editor Joy James is John B. and John T. McCoy Presidential Professor of Humanities and College Professor in Political Science at Williams College. She is the author of Shadowboxing: Representations of Black Feminist Politics and Resisting State Violence: Radicalism, Gender, and Race in U.S. Culture and the editor of The New Abolitionists: (Neo)Slave Narratives and Contemporary Prison Writings and Imprisoned Intellectuals: America's Political Prisoners Write on Life, Liberation, and Rebellion. Baltimore Black Panther Marshall "Eddie" Conway has been wrongfully incarcerated in the state of Maryland for more than 35 years, one of the many victims of the FBIs infamous COINTELPRO program.

1PM: China Martens presents The Future Generation (VLP)
A pioneer of the genre, especially when it comes to mamazines, China Martens started her zine The Future Generation in 1990. She was a young anarchist punk rock mother who didn't feel that the mamas in her community had enough support, so she began delivering articles on radical parenting to her compañeras in an age before the Internet made such a thing easy. Now, for the first time, 16 years of her zine and parenting writing life come together. This zine-book uses individual issues as chapters, focuses on personal writing, and retains the character of a zine that changed over the years-growing from her daughters birth to teenagehood and beyond. Personal and political; ideas and actions; the intimacy of a zine meets the arching reach of a book.

2PM: Bike Repair Workshop with Velocipede Bike Collective (HPS)
Join members of Baltimore's Velocipede Bike Project for an introduction to DIY bike repair and maintenance.

2PM: Models for Radical Publishing (VLP)
Details soon!

3PM: The Baltimore Algebra Project reports on their October 17 March for Jobs and Education (SR)
The Baltimore Algebra Project seeks to foster an environment where students can possess the mathematics skills necessary to desire, demand, and successfully complete a college preparatory curriculum in high school, opening the gateway to opportunities and choices of careers in mathematics and technical fields. One of the longest-running and most highly effective activist groups in the Baltimore area, the Algebra Project continues to inspire and intrigue us on a daily basis. Join students as they report back on their October 17 March for Jobs and Education.

3PM: M.K. Asante, Jr. presents It's Bigger than Hip-Hop (VLP)
M.K. Asante, Jr., 24, is a college professor and award-winning author and filmmaker who the Philadelphia Inquirer calls "a rare, remarkable talent that brings to mind the great artists of the Harlem Renaissance." Asante's first book, Like Water Running Off My Back, won the Academy of American Poets Jean Corrie Prize for its title piece. His second book, Beautiful. And Ugly Too was hailed by the Los Angeles Times as "a thought-provoking journey down the lonely road of wisdom and whiplash." His latest book, It's Bigger than Hip-Hop, is forthcoming from St. Martin's Press. Praised by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Charles Fuller as "one of the most important writers of his generation," Asante has written for USA Today, Tampa Tribune, Black Arts Quarterly, and the San Francisco Chronicle, among others. He is also a contributing author to the books Encyclopedia of Black Studies and the best-selling series 1000 Key Moments: Books. Asante wrote and produced the internationally-acclaimed film 500 Years Later, winner of Best Documentary at the Pan African Film Festival; Best Documentary at the Bridgetown Film Festival; Best Film at the Black Berlin Film Festival; Best International Documentary at the Harlem International Film Festival; and the Breaking the Chains award from UNESCO. Asante recently wrapped-up production on "The Black Candle," a film which he co-wrote with renown poet Maya Angelou, who also narrates the film. Other films are in-production through Asante Filmworx, an award-winning film production company founded by Asante in 2002.

3PM: Consent: Communication & Sex (HPS)
Do you view consent differently for people of different genders, sexual preferences, sizes? How does power and privilege factor into consent? Is non-consent always assault? Can consent be erotic? This workshop, featuring a puppet show, will work to create space for an open, non-judgmental and healthy conversation around sexual consent. As we discuss how to create a society based on consent and not coercion, we'll talk about the questions above, discuss dynamics that play into how we might give or understand consent, and come up with ideas on how to figure out what we want sexually and how to make communication about consent comfortable and hot! Based on room size we'll limit the number of participants. No latecomers! This workshop is facilitated by The Down There Health Collective, a group working to better understand our bodies and care for ourselves and each other in a holistic way. Down There strives to create safe, comfortable and supportive environments to learn and share information, particularly around health, sexuality and gender and bring up body and mental health issues that too often go unaddressed. Down There is based in DC and facilitates various workshops, is making speculums more widely available and affordable or free, distros health-related zines for free and is excited to hear about similar work other folx are doing.

4PM: Independent journalist Dahr Jamail on the Iraq War, with members of Iraq Veterans Against the War (SR)
In late 2003, Weary of the overall failure of the US media to accurately report on the realities of the war in Iraq for the Iraqi people and US soldiers, Dahr Jamail went to Iraq to report on the war himself. He spent a total of 8 months in occupied Iraq as one of only a few independent US journalists in the country, and has reported from other countries in the region, including Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. His new book, Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq is a critical addition to our understanding of the occupation of Iraq and the essential role of independent journalism. Jamail will be joined by members of the Iraq Veterans Against the War coalition, who will share their experiences in Iraq and at home.

4PM: On the Question of Copyright (VLP)
Description forthcoming!

5PM: UNITE-HERE on the Sheraton Workers Campaign(VLP)
Description forthcoming!

[Red Army Faction] The Stammheim "Suicides"

"Gudrun, Andreas and Jan were tortured and
murdered at Stammheim prison"

the last in a four part series on the events of October 1977, which culminated in three deaths in Stammheim prison exactly thirty years ago today...

The Stammheim “Suicides” (1)

In previous installments we have seen how the Red Army Faction survived the arrest of its leading members Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin, Ulrike Meinhof, Holger Meins, and Jan Carl Raspe in 1972. Over the next years these individuals and other RAF political prisoners were subjected to isolation and sensory deprivation torture, and yet through the strategic use of hunger strikes managed to inspire a new generation of guerilla fighters on the outside.

This struggle was not without its losses, though, and by 1977 several guerilla fighters had died, including three who died in captivity. The most recent of these, the RAF’s leading theoretician Ulrike Meinhof was said to have “committed suicide” at a key point in her trial in 1976, and yet later investigations would uncover evidence that she had in fact been raped and strangled, and then hanged to make it look like she had killed herself.

We have also seen how in 1977, a year after Meinhof was murdered, the guerilla embarked on its most ambitious operation to free the prisoners, assassinating the Chief Federal Prosecutor and attempting to kidnap two leading businessmen in an effort to force the State to release their comrades. While they failed to capture one of these targets, instead killing him, the other, former Nazi Hans-Martin Schleyer, was taken prisoner on September 5. As days turned to weeks and negotiations seemed to be getting nowhere, a Palestinian commando intervened, hijacking a plane and taking ninety people hostage, supporting the RAF and also demanding that two Palestinian prisoners in Turkey be freed.

These events unfolded in September and October 1977.

On October 17, a West German anti-terrorist commando stormed the airliner in Mogadishu, killing three guerillas and wounding the fourth. The next morning it was announced that Gudrun Ensslin and Andreas Baader were dead, having allegedly committed suicide. It was also announced that Jan-Carl Raspe and fellow RAF prisoner Irmgard Möller had “attempted suicide.” Raspe subsequently died of his wounds.

An examination of the contradictions surrounding the alleged “suicides” of Gudrun Ensslin, Jan-Carl Raspe, and Andreas Baader, contradictions no less numerous than in the case of Ulrike Meinhof’s death, tends to support the conclusion that the deaths were in fact murders.

Baader and Raspe died as a result of gunshot wounds, Ensslin as a result of hanging, and the sole survivor, Irmgard Möller, suffered repeated stab wounds inflicted with a kitchen knife.

A poster mobilizing for a demo in Stuttgart to mark the ten year
anniversary of the Stammheim murders, in 1987.
True to form the West German State opened an investigation into the poster itself,
under Paragraph 129a: "support for a terrorist organization"

As the two men were alleged to have shot themselves, some explanation as to where the guns had come from was necessary. Remember: the four had all been kept in complete isolation since Schleyer had been taken hostage, and had been in prison under strict conditions for years before that.

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.”

Yet, such a thing does seem in fact to be “out of the question,” if not flatly impossible. Before entering the visiting area, lawyers had to empty their pockets and give their jackets to an employee for verification; they were body searched physically and with a metal detector. Prisoners were strip searched and inspected and given a new set of clothes both when entering and when 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 are 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 indicated that it is virtually impossible for an individual to position a gun against his or her 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 almost certainly 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.

The gun smuggling theory relied very heavily on the testimony of Hans Joachim Dellwo, brother of RAF prisoner Karl-Heinz Dellwo, and Volker Speitel, the husband of RAF member Angelika Speitel. They had both been arrested on October 2,1977 and charged with belonging to a criminal association.

Under police pressure, both men would later admit to acting as couriers for the guerilla, and testify that they were aware of lawyers smuggling items to the prisoners during the Stammheim trial which had ended in April 1977 – specifically they eventually claimed that guns had been smuggled in. The scenario put forth by the state was that these guns were then hidden away in the walls of the cells as work was done renovating the seventh floor that summer.

Yet Speitel and Dellwo’s testimony was tainted by the fact that they provided it in order to avoid lengthy stays behind bars. In exchange for these allegations they each received reduced sentences and new identities. As a result of their testimony, two defense attorneys would be tried and convicted of weapon smuggling in 1979.

As well as conveniently explaining the deaths, the gun smuggling story served two further purposes. From that point on, all lawyers’ visits with RAF prisoners were through a screen, a process which allows greater ease of auditory surveillance, as well as depriving the prisoners of one of their last direct human contacts. Furthermore, the guards were permitted, from that point on, to look through lawyers’ files “to prevent smuggling.”

In the case of Gudrun Ensslin’s “suicide” there were further contradictions. 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 these developments? And, further, how would they have organized a group suicide under such conditions?

On October 20, authorities claimed to have “discovered” a radio in Raspe’s cell, a cell that he had only occupied since October 4 it should be noted. The state alleged that, using the wall sockets and tools stolen while the prison was being renovated, the prisoners constructed an elaborate communication system that allowed them to monitor the radio broadcasts and to communicate with each other.

This was 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 another RAF prisoner. It is worth noting that the gun in question was a Colt .38, the model used by special police units.

While the details of what happened that night may never be known, and the state’s story cannot be 100% disproven, even taken at face value all the state’s claims do not point to “simple suicide”: in the final analysis their own evidence suggests that if prisoners would have had access to guns and radios then someone in a position of authority would have known it. Author Stefan Aust, for instance, suggests that the prisoners may have been allowed to believe they had established a “secret” communication system so as that what they said to each other could be monitored. What emerges then is a picture of the prisoners being allowed to have weapons and being allowed to communicate with each other, and authorities listening in as a suicide pact was agreed upon and then acted on, all the while doing nothing to interfere (2) .

Yet one of the biggest problems with the suicide story, even in this form, is the fact that not all of the prisoners had died.

On October 27, Irmgard Möller, the only survivor from the alleged group suicide attempt, 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 difficulty concentrating. She further stated that the prisoners had no contact with one another except by shouting through the air vents in their cells or when going by each other’s cells on the way to or from the yard. Finally, she said the prisoners had absolutely no idea of developments in Mogadishu.

To this day, she maintains that the prisoners were murdered.

It is difficult to dispute such a claim, coming as it does from a woman who survived these events.

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, which - as a guard who is now permanently on the 7th floor has said - hopes 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.(3)

Gudrun Ensslin had also written to 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.(4)

at the funeral...

Furthermore, in conversation with two prison chaplains on the afternoon of October 17, Ensslin had explained that there were three sheets of paper kept in a file in her cell, containing important information. “They should be sent to the head of the Chancellery if they do away with me, or if I’m executed,” she said. “Please would you see that they get there? I’m afraid that otherwise the Federal Prosecutor will suppress or destroy them.”(5)

Needless to say, according to the official account, these three sheets of paper were never found.(6)

Although no independent international commission was ever formed to investigate the Stammheim deaths, the commission investigating the death of Ulrike Meinhof was still sitting at the time. They had several interesting comments. They noted that on both nights, May 8-9, 1976 and October 17-18, 1977, an auxiliary was in charge of surveillance rather than the usual person. They also noted that in both incidents the autopsies posed similar problems.

Regarding the incriminating evidence “turned up” by prison authorities during the cell searches, they approvingly quote from the press release of Irmgard Möller’s lawyer, Jutta Bahr-Jendgen, of October 25, 1977:

Why these inventories of the cells without neutral witnesses, without lawyers, these inventories which have produced receivers, radios, Morse code apparatuses, quantities of plastic explosives – might as well find atomic bombs?(7)
The Commission further noted 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 authorities until November 4, 1977. The Commission observes:

This indicates 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.(8)

The cover-up was so glaring that 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.(9)
As a macabre postscript to all of this, RAF prisoner Ingrid Schubert was found hanged in her cell in Munich-Stadelheim prison on November 11, 1977. On the Thursday before her death, she had assured her lawyer that she had no intention of committing suicide. As in the case of Meinhof and Ensslin, the autopsy did not indicate the usual signs of death by hanging.(10)

Gudrun Ensslin, Andreas Baader,
Jan Carl Raspe and Ingrid Schubert:
we will not forget



(1) In recent years some, including RAF prisoners of the first generation, have claimed to know of a suicide pact involving the prisoners and have claimed certain knowledge that the deaths were a suicide. Irmgard Möller, the sole RAF survivor of the day’s violence continues to insist that there was no suicide pact and that the prisoners were murdered. Unlike Möller, none of the other prisoners making these claims have any direct knowledge of what happened on the seventh floor of Stammheim prison on October 17 1977, and for that reason, and given the many contradictions in the state’s explanation, we choose to believe the sole survivor of that night’s events.

(2) In this regard see Stefan Aust’s book The Baader-Meinhof Group, pages 432, 482-3, 487-8, 496-7, 550-552. Regarding the possibility that police might have learned of guns in Stammheim fom Volker Speitel as early as October 4, see page 484. It should be noted that although Aust claims to believe the prisoners committed suicide, he emphasizes that there remain serious inconsistencies in the official version of events, including evidence pointing to the possibility that Baader was shot by a gun with a silencer on it, which would mean that the murder weapon was removed after he was killed (547), and also that guards lied when they claimed Möller had lifted her sweater before allegedly stabbing herself (548), a “fact” which the state claimed proved suicide as an assassin would not have tried to save the victim’s clothing.

(3) Republished in a variety of sources in October 1987, the tenth anniversary of “The German Autumn,” our copy is a photocopy of the original that was circulated informally. A version of this text is also produced in Aust op cit. page 489.

(4) Libération(Special Issue) Paris 1978, p. 27.

(5) Aust op cit. p. 526.

(6) Ibid. p. 528.

(7) La Mort d’Ulrike Meinhof: Rapport de la Commission international d’enquête, Librairie François Maspero, Paris, 1979, p. 67.

(8) Ibid, pp. 55-58.

(9) Ibid, p. 68.

(10) Libération, op. cit, p. 43.


Thirty years ago an escalating conflict between the Red Army Faction and the West German state reached its turning point. As events reached their climax in a bloody series of events known as “The German Autumn” every sector of West German society was shaken to the core.

Kersplebedeb will be co-publishing a two volume complete works and history of the Red Army Faction in early 2008. This week, to mark the events of thirty years ago, we will be posting a series of pieces drawn from these books.

More information about the Red Army Faction is available at

For more information about the upcoming two volume history and complete works of the RAF, contact

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

[Red Army Faction] German Autumn, Bitter Defeat

The third in a series of installments about the Red Army Faction, specifically their 1977 campaign which ended so tragically thirty years ago...

German Autumn, Bitter Defeat

As we saw in our previous installments, by late summer 1977 the Red Army Faction was poised to carry out its most ambitious gambit to free its members being held captive in West German prisons. Dozens of guerillas had spent years in isolation, at times subjected to sensory deprivation torture, and yet they continued to fight for their political identity, and indeed their own sanity, through hunger strikes which mobilized support on the outside.

During the previous three years, three members of the guerilla – Ulrike Meinhof, Siegfried Hausner and Holger Meins – had died while in captivity. The radical left considered each of these deaths to be a case of murder.

As the month of August came to an end the guerilla had already carried out several attacks in 1977, killing members of the ruling class, their bodyguards and police. One of these, Jürgen Ponto, had died when he resisted being kidnapped by a RAF commando which included his own god-daughter. This had been intended to be the first of a two-pronged action to put pressure on the West German bourgeoisie to force the state to free the prisoners.

Despite their failure to take Ponto alive, the RAF decided to follow through on the second part of this plan, and so, on September 5, the “Siegfried Hausner Commando” of the RAF kidnapped Hanns-Martin Schleyer. His car and police escort were forced to stop by a baby stroller that was left out in the middle of the road, at which point they were ambushed by guerillas who killed his driver and three police officers before making their getaway.

Scene of devastation after Hans Martin Schleyer was seized,
his driver and police escort killed

Schleyer was the most powerful businessman in West Germany at the time. He was the president of both the Federal Association of German Industrialists and the Federal Association of German Employers. As a former Nazi SS officer, he was also a symbol of the continuity between the Third Reich and the post-war power structure.

As the guerilla would later explain:

We hoped to confront the SPD (1) with the decision of whether to exchange these two individuals who embody the global power of FRG (2) capital in a way that few others do.

Ponto for his international financial policy (revealing how all the German banks, especially his own Dresdner Bank, work to support reactionary regimes in developing countries and also the role of FRG financial policy as a tool to control European integration) and Schleyer for the national economic policy (the big trusts, corporatism, the FRG as an international model of social peace).

They embodied the power within the state which the SPD must respect if it wishes to stay in power.(3)

Despite the failure of the Ponto action, it had been felt that the plan could not be called off, that lives were at stake: “the prisoners had reached a point where we could no longer put off an action to liberate them. The prisoners were on a thirst strike and Gudrun was dying.”(4)

Within a day of Schleyer’s kidnapping, the commando demanded the release of eleven prisoners – including the RAF founders Gudrun Ensslin, Jan-Carle Raspe and Andreas Baader – and their transportation to a country of their choice.

Despite the fact that the prisoners offered assurances that they would not return to West Germany or participate in future armed actions if exiled, 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 communication ban was instituted against all political prisoners. The so-called Kontaktsperre law, which had been rushed through parliament in a matter of days specifically to deal with this situation, deprived the prisoners of all contact with each other as well as with the outside world. 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, those subjected to this law were placed in 100% individual isolation.

On September 9, Agence France Presse’s Bonn office received the first ultimatum from the commando holding Schleyer, setting a 1:00pm deadline for the release of the prisoners. The state countered with a proposal that Denis Payot, a well-known human rights lawyer based in Geneva, act as a negotiator. Secret negotiations began the same day.

On September 22, RAF member Knut Folkerts was arrested in Utrecht after a shoot-out which left one Dutch policeman dead and two more injured. He would eventually be convicted of Buback’s murder (5) . A woman, identified as RAF member Brigitte Mohnhapt, managed to get away. The search for Schleyer was extended to Holland, but to no avail.

On September 30, defense attorney Ardnt Müller was arrested. Accused of having worked with his colleagues Armin Newerla and Klaus Croissant 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, in which an incriminating map had allegedly been found. The next day Croissant, who had fled to France earlier that year, would be arrested in Paris.

On October 7, the thirty-second day of the kidnapping, newspapers in France and Germany received a letter from Schleyer, accompanied by a photo, decrying the “indecisiveness” of the authorities.

Hans Martin Schleyer in captivity

On October 13, with negotiations deadlocked, a Palestinian commando intervened in solidarity with the RAF, putting the already intense confrontation on an entirely different level.

The four-person Commando Martyr Halimeh, led by Zohair Youssef Akache of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, hijacked a Lufthansa airliner traveling from Majorca, Spain to Frankfurt in West Germany – ninety people on board were taken hostage.

The airliner was first diverted to Rome to refuel and to issue the commando’s demands. These were the release of the eleven RAF prisoners and two Palestinians being held in Turkey, Mahdi Muhammed and Hussein Muhammed al Rashid, who were serving life terms for a shootout at Istanbul airport in 1976 in which four people were killed.

The plane flew to Cyprus and from there to the Gulf where it landed first in Bahrain and then in Dubai.

It was now the morning of October 14. Denis Payot announced receipt of a communiqué setting a deadline of 8:00am on October 16 for all the demands to be met “if a bloodbath was to be avoided.” The communiqué, signed by both the Commando Martyr Halimeh and the Siegfried Hausner Commando, was accompanied by a videotape of Schleyer.

Later that day the West German government released a statement specifying that they intended to do everything possible to find “a reasonable and humanitarian solution” so as to save the lives of the hostages. That evening the Minister in Charge of Special Affairs, Hans Jürgen Wischnewski, left Bonn for Dubai.

On October 15, Payot announced that he had an “extremely important and urgent” message for the Siegfried Hausner Commando from the federal government in Bonn. Wischnewski, on the site in Dubai, promised that there would be no military intervention. That evening the West German media broke its self-imposed silence (which had been requested by the state) for the first time since the kidnapping, showing a thirty-second clip from the Schleyer video received the day before.

As another day drew to an end, the West German government announced that Somalia, South Yemen and Vietnam had all refused to accept the RAF prisoners or the two Palestinians held in Turkey.

At eight o’clock in the morning on October 16, the forty-first day since the kidnapping of Schleyer, the deadline established in the October 14 ultimatum passed. In Geneva, Payot once again announced that he had received an “extremely important and urgent” message from Bonn. At 10:43am, the Turkish Minister of Finance and Defense declared that the Turkish government was prepared to release the two Palestinians should the West German government request it.

At 11:21am, the hijacked airliner left Dubai.

At noon, a second ultimatum passed.

At 3:20am on October 17, the hijacked airliner landed in Mogadishu, Somalia. The dead body of Flight Captain Jürgen Schumann, who had apparently sent out coded messages about the situation on board, was pushed out the door.

As the sun was rising the hijackers extended their deadline once again, to 2:00pm.

At 2:00pm yet another deadline past. Minutes earlier a plane carrying Wischnewski and the GSG-9, a West German anti-terrorist commando, had landed in Mogidishu.

At the same time in Germany Schleyer’s family released a statement announcing their willingness to negotiate with the kidnappers.

That night, as the double-standoff continued, the government issued a statement that the “terrorists” had no option but to surrender. Less than an hour later, the West German government requested an international news blackout of developments at the airport in Mogidishu.

Souhaila Andrawes gives the victory sign as she is taken away on a stretcher:
the three other members of the commando had been killed

At 11:00pm on October 17, sixty members of the GSG-9 attacked the airliner; guerilla fighters Zohair Youssef Akache, Hind Alameh and Nabil Harb were killed, and Souhaila Andrawes was gravely wounded. All hostages were rescued unharmed, with the exception of one man who suffered a heart attack.

The next morning, at 7am on October 18, a government spokesperson publicly announced the resolution of the hijacking.

An hour later, another spokesperson 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. (As we will see tomorrow, there is an abundance of evidence indicating that the prisoners were murdered.)

Andreas Baader shot through the head and
Gudrun Ensslin hanging in her cell:
the State claimed they committed suicide...

On October 19, police discovered Schleyer’s body in the trunk of a car in the French border town of Mulhouse.

After forty-three days, the most intense clash between the anti-imperialist guerillas and the West German state had come to its bloody conclusion, sending shock waves through every sector of West German society.

The German Autumn effected the entire West German left, as the State responded to the 77 offensive with a wave of repression against the entire revolutionary movement.

On April 25, just a few weeks after the RAF had killed Siegfried Buback, a student newspaper had published an essay entitled Buback Obituary, in which the anonymous author admitted his “secret joy” at the Federal Prosecutor’s assassination. While the Buback Obituary was obviously hostile to the RAF’s politics, the State seized upon the opportunity to clamp down on the radical left and sympathetic academics.

At the same time, the plethora of Maoist parties and pre-party formations (the so-called “K-Groups”) had also entered the State’s sights. After Schleyer was seized, the State moved to ban the three largest Maoist parties, the KBW, the KPD and the KPD/ML, with ludicrous claims that they had some connection to “terrorism”. All three organizations called for a joint demonstration in Bonn on October 8, 1977, under the slogan “Marxism-Leninism Cannot Be Outlawed!” Twenty thousand people marched under red flags in what would be the only joint activity these sectarian organizations would mount during the decade.

While most of these Maoist K-groups would implode within a few years, losing many members to the new Green Party, some other militants managed break through the impasse of 77 in their own way, by organizing a radical left countercultural happening, Tunix (6) , held in January 1978 in West Berlin. As the organizers (“Quinn the Eskimo”, “Frankie Lee” and “Judas Priest”) explained in their call out, “When our identity is under attack, like during the situation in the fall of ‘77, then we need to take the initiative and state openly what it is we want. Political taboos and appeals to the constitution won't save us.”

The Tunix conference represented a breakthrough for the anti-authoritarian “sponti” scene, with as many as twenty thousand people attending. Participants took to the streets, and the first violent demonstration in a long time was held in Berlin as people threw bricks and paint filled eggs at the courthouse, the America House and the women’s prison. Banners read “Free the prisoners!”, “Out With the Filth” and “Stammheim is Everywhere.”

Nevertheless, this was a time of defeat and demoralization. As a later writer would note:

While some people sought to criticize the state's violence (for example, 177 professors issued a statement), most people were simply left speechless by the events… whole streets were lined with cops with machineguns, known left-wing radicals were stopped and searched, and radical left meeting places were raided.

The ‘German Autumn’ forced the undogmatic radical left scene to re-orient itself away from factory struggles and squatting efforts and towards the growing anti-nuclear actions... In the context of the anti-imperialist attacks and hijackings by the RAF (and some barely identifiable Arab forces) during the ‘77-Offensive, the process of the splitting off of the radical left scene, which began in 1972, was complete. Increased state repression, coupled with denunciations and distancing by left-liberals and academics from the '68-generation, made the whole affair a traumatic experience for the radical left.

During this phase of isolation and disorientation, many comrades lapsed into resignation or joined up with the alternative movement. Another wing ‘hibernated’ in the anti-nuclear movement for a while.(7)

As the RAF would later acknowledge: “We committed errors in 77 and the offensive was turned into our most serious setback.”(8)

It would take some time for the guerrilla to formulate the lessons to be drawn from this unprecedented setback, to regroup and to plan its next moves.

Thousands gather at the funeral of Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin and Jan-Carl Raspe

You can read the RAF's communiques regarding this actions here:


Thirty years ago an escalating conflict between the Red Army Faction and the West German state reached its turning point. As events reached their climax in a bloody series of events known as “The German Autumn” every sector of West German society was shaken to the core.

Kersplebedeb will be co-publishing a two volume complete works and history of the Red Army Faction in early 2008. This week, to mark the events of thirty years ago, we will be posting a series of pieces drawn from these books.

More information about the Red Army Faction is available at

For more information about the upcoming two volume history and complete works of the RAF, contact

Tomorrow's installment: The Stammheim "Suicides"



(1) The Social Democratic Party of Germany, then the ruling party.

(2) Federal Republic of Germany, West Germany’s official name

(3) The Resistance, The Guerilla and the Anti-Imperialist Front, May 1982

(4) Ibid.

(5) Earlier this year former RAF members Peter-Jürgen Boock and Silke Maier-Witt stepped forward to claim that Folkerts could not possibly have been the shooter as he had been in Amsterdam that day. The two went on to point the finger at another RAF member, Stefan Wisniewski, as the shooter, naming Günter Sonnenberg as the driver of the motorcycle from which the fatal shots were fired. Furthermore, Maier-Witt claims to have informed the police in 1990 that Folkerts was in Amsterdam on the day of the shooting. It is also alleged that former RAF member Verena Becker informed the police that Wisniewski was the shooter as early as 1982. These developments have forced to German police to reopen the Buback case, and it is not outside of the realm of reason that former RAF members already released might find themselves facing a new trial when the renewed investigation is completed.

(6) A play on words which means “do nothing.”

(7) Fire and Flames: A History of the German Autonomist Movement by Geronimo, unpublished translation by Arm The Spirit. (available in German for free download here)

(8) The Guerilla, the Resistance and the Anti-Imperialist Front op cit.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

[Red Army Faction] The Summer of 77: The Prisoners’ Struggle Heats Up

The second in a series of installments about the Red Army Faction, specifically their 1977 campaign which led to the "German Autumn"...

The Summer of 77: The Prisoners’ Struggle Heats Up

As we saw in yesterday’s installment, by 1977 the Red Army Faction had shown that it had survived the arrests of its founding members five years earlier. Successfully countering isolation, psychological conditioning and sensory deprivation torture, the prisoners had in fact inspired their own successors, and through the strategic use of hunger strikes had come to symbolize resistance to the West German state and U.S. imperialism.

The prisoners struggles were to remain central to the RAF throughout the decade, but at no point more so than in 1977.

On March 29 of that year, prisoners from the RAF and the anarchist 2nd of June Movement embarked upon their fourth hunger strike, demanding prisoner of war status, association in groups of no less than fifteen, an end to isolation and an international investigation into the deaths of RAF prisoners in custody. Initially, thirty-five prisoners participated, but soon the number of prisoners refusing food surpassed one hundred and some prisoners escalated to refusing liquids.

The guerilla outside the prison walls was not going to let the prisoners wage this battle on their own: on April 7, as he was waiting at a traffic light, Chief Federal Prosecutor Siegfried Buback was killed along with his driver and a justice ministry official when two individuals on a motorcycle pulled up alongside his Mercedes and opened fire with a submachine gun, riddling it with bullets.

April 7 1977: Chief Prosecutor Siegfried Buback is assassinated

This attack occurred in the context of continuing attacks against the RAF’s lawyers, and exactly two weeks before the end of the famous Stammheim show trial in which Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin and Jan-Carl Raspe would be found guilty of various offenses relating to the RAF’s May 1972 bombing offensive. As head of the Federal Prosecutor’s Office, Buback bore direct responsibility for the prison conditions which had already claimed the lives of Ulrike Meinhof, Siegfried Hausner and Holger Meins. It was in the name of the “Ulrike Meinhof Commando” that the RAF issued a communiqué claiming responsibility.

The hunger strike continued, the prisoners consolidating their support. Soon relatives of the prisoners began a solidarity hunger strike, and on April 17, Peter's Church in Frankfurt was occupied and turned into a hunger strike information center. As the number of prisoners refusing food reached one hundred and twenty, more outside supporters began a second solidarity hunger strike in a Bielefeld Church. On April 27, relatives of political prisoners held a demonstration at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva demanding the application of the Geneva Convention. The next day, Amnesty International added its voice to that of eighty clergymen, one hundred and twenty-eight U.S. lawyers, one hundred French and Belgian lawyers and twenty-three English lawyers, all supporting the prisoners’ demands.

Finally, on April 30, it was announced that the prisoners would be granted limited association. In response to this victory, they agreed to end their hunger strike.

Shortly thereafter, work began on the seventh floor of Stammheim prison to allow the association of sixteen prisoners.

Verena Becker and Günter Sonnenberg: shot through the head with a submachinegun,
Sonnenberg could not be identified for hours - miraculously he survived,
though suffering brain damage and seizures to this day

On May 3, Günter Sonnenberg was arrested along with RAF member Verena Becker in the German-Swiss border town of Singen. During the arrest, two cops were shot, Becker was wounded in the leg and the twenty-two-year-old Sonnenberg received a bullet in the head as he tried to flee (1) .

The next attack occurred on July 30, as three RAF members, including Susanne Albrecht, came with flowers to the door of Jürgen Ponto, one of the most important businessmen in West Germany. Ponto had direct ties to many Third World governments and had served as an advisor to South Africa’s brutal apartheid regime … he was also Albrecht’s god-father. The guerilla attempted to abduct the businessman, but when he resisted they opened fire, shooting him five times. As Albrecht had been recognized by Ponto’s wife, she signed her name to the guerilla’s communiqué for this action.

(The political storm that ensued when it was learned that Ponto had never been warned by police that they knew his god-daughter was close to the RAF led the Federal Minister of the Interior Werner Maihofer to famously state that “There is no capitalist who does not have a terrorist in his own intimate circle of friends or relations.” (2) )

Wanted poster for Susanne Albrecht (left), who signed the communique
explaining the attack on her god-father Jürgen Ponto (right)

On August 8, the RAF prisoners who had been moved to Stammheim just a month earlier were transferred back to Hamburg. The precise excuse used was a “fight” with guards – essentially a set up whereby the guards provoked an incident and used it as an excuse to attack and beat the prisoners (3) . It appeared that Buback’s replacement Kurt Rebmann had moved to reverse his previous decision to grant “association,” the holding of political prisoners in common groups.

Baader, Raspe and Ensslin were once again alone on the seventh floor of Stammheim prison.

In reaction to these shenanigans and to the attack on Ponto, all RAF prisoners went on hunger strike, some escalating to a thirst strike almost immediately.

Within days force feeding had begun – a sadistic practice whereby prisoners were drugged, strapped down on a table, and had a tube rammed down their throat for hours at a time. It was not meant to save the lives of the hunger strikers, but was another form of torture, one which the state had come to depend on in its struggle against the prisoners. Holger Meins, for instance, who had died during the 1974 hunger strike, had been force fed for weeks. As he wrote before his death: “A red pipe, not a tube, is used, inserted in the stomach. The width of a finger; in my case, it is greased for ease of motion. This doesn’t happen without provoking convulsive choking in the digestive tract, because the tube is only a millimeter or two narrower than the digestive tract. To avoid this it is necessary to make a swallowing motion and remain completely still. The slightest irritation when the pipe is introduced causes a vomiting reflex and the tensing up of the chest and stomach muscles; in a chain reaction these convulsions spread with violent intensity throughout the body. This causes one to buck against the pipe. The more difficult and violent this is, the more painful it is. The whole thing is nothing but torture, with vomiting accompanying the convulsions.”

Adelheid Schulz, a RAF member imprisoned in the 1980s, would describe 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.”

Defense attorneys Armin Newerla and Arndt Müller began organizing public support for the striking prisoners and so came under even heavier police surveillance. On August 15, the lawyers’ offices were firebombed (5), almost certainly with the collusion of the police who had them staked out 24 hours a day . Newerla was subsequently arrested when copies of a left-wing magazine were found in his car and was charged with “supporting a criminal organization” under Paragraph 129a. Seeing the writing on the wall, defence lawyer Klaus Croissant had already fled the country to France where he requested political asylum (6) .

The new Federal Prosecutor staked out the “hard-line” position that he would be remembered for. In statements to the press Rebmann said, “I know that the population is not at all interested if these people go on hunger and thirst strikes. The population wants these people to be hit hard just as hard as they have earned with their brutal deed.” In answer to questions about the possibility of prisoners dying he answered, “That is always a bad thing, but it would be the consequence which has been made clear to them and their lawyers and which is clear to them.”(7)

On September 2, following the breakdown of negotiations between Amnesty International and the Federal Government, the prisoners called off their strike. In a short statement, Jan-Carl Raspe explained that the attack on Ponto had created a situation in which the state held the prisoners as hostages and was ready and willing to kill them to set an example.

As we saw in yesterday’s installment, this was more than simple rhetoric: during the preceding three years three RAF prisoners had already died in custody.

On September 3, the RAF attacked Rebmann’s offices with an improvised rocket launcher. Nobody was hurt, but the subsequent communiqué made it clear that this had not been the guerilla’s intention. The attack was meant as a warning, as the group made clear in their statement: “Should Andreas, Gudrun and Jan be killed, the apologists for the hard-line will find out that they are not the only ones with weapons at their disposal. They will find out that we are many and that we have enough love – as well as enough hate and enough imagination – to use both our weapons and their weapons against them, that their pain will equal ours.”

The stage was being set for a decisive showdown.

You can read the RAF's communiques regarding this actions here:


Thirty years ago an escalating conflict between the Red Army Faction and the West German state reached its turning point. As events reached their climax in a bloody series of events known as “The German Autumn” every sector of West German society was shaken to the core.

Kersplebedeb will be co-publishing a two volume complete works and history of the Red Army Faction in early 2008. This week, to mark the events of thirty years ago, we will be posting a series of pieces drawn from these books.

More information about the Red Army Faction is available at

For more information about the upcoming two volume history and complete works of the RAF, contact

Yesterday's installment can be read here.

Tomorrow's installment: German Autumn, Bitter Defeat



(1) Sonnenberg sustained extremely serious brain damage, having to relearn to speak and to walk. He suffers from epilepsy until this day.

(2) Aust, Stefan The Baader Meinhof Group The Bodley Head Ltd London 1987. p. 418.

(3) Ibid. pp. 411-2.

(4) Von der Zwangernährung zur “Koma-Losung,” West Germany, September 1985, p. 25.

(5) “Radical Lawyers Office Bombed” Oakland Tribune August 15 1977.

(6) He would eventually be extradited back to Germany, where he would be imprisoned with his former clients and would himself participate in a subsequent hunger strike.

(7) Frankfurter Rundschau August 15, 1977 quoted in “The Stammheim Deaths,” Cienfuegos Press Anarchist Review, No. 4.

Monday, October 15, 2007

[Red Army Faction] 1977: Seven Years of Struggle Against the State

The first in a series of installments about the Red Army Faction, specifically their 1977 campaign which led to the "German Autumn"...

Seven Years of Struggle Against the State

The Red Army Faction had, by this time, engaged in a campaign of armed struggle for seven years, beginning with the action that freed Andreas Baader from custody in 1970 – he had been serving a three-year sentence for setting fire to a department store to protest the war in Vietnam. Following the liberation of Baader, RAF members received training from Al Fatah in Jordan. After returning from Jordan, the guerilla carried out a series of bank robberies and began to prepare for campaigns to come.

As they continued to evade police, the RAF began to take on the aura of folk heroes for many students and leftists who were glad to see someone taking things to the next level. Thousands of people secretly carried photographs of RAF members in their wallets, and time and time again, as the police stepped up their search, members of the young guerilla group would find doors open to them, as they were welcomed into people’s homes, including not a few middle class sympathisers – academics, doctors, even a clergyman. Newspapers at the time carried stories under headlines like “Celebrities Protect Baader Gang” and “Sympathizers Hamper Hunt for Baader Group.” An opinion poll revealed that “40 percent of respondents described the RAF’s violence as political, not criminal, in motive; 20 percent indicated that they could understand efforts to protect fugitives from capture; and 6 percent confessed that they were themselves willing to conceal a fugitive.” (1)

May 1972: car bomb goes off outside police station in Augsburg...

Then, in May 1972, the group turned things up a notch, carrying out a series of bombings. Targets included police stations and the U.S. army headquarters, which were blown up in protest against killer cops and the ongoing war in Vietnam. Four American soldiers were killed, and dozens of other people, including civilians, were injured.

There followed a wave of repression as one hundred and thirty thousand cops, supported by both West German and U.S. intelligence units, set up checkpoints and carried out raids across the country.

Within a few weeks the leading members of the RAF – Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin, Holger Meins, Jan-Carl Raspe and Ulrike Meinhof – had all been captured.

Yet the State was not content to simply remove the perceived leadership of the RAF from the field. Instead, it hoped to render them 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 world.

Yet, captured and isolated, the guerilla managed not only to survive but also turned things around. There were dozens of RAF members in prison, and dozens more political prisoners from other groups; through the strategic use of hunger strikes they called attention not only to their conditions of incarceration but also to their anti-imperialist armed struggle ideology. Prisoner support groups sprang up across the country, and when Holger Meins died in a 1974 hunger strike there were protests in cities across West Germany, thousands meeting in university auditoriums in West Berlin to discuss possible responses while thousands more braved the ban on demonstrations and took to the streets. The next day the 2nd of June Movement (2), a Berlin-based anarchist guerilla group shot and killed the president of the West Berlin Supreme Court to avenge Meins and support the demands of the prisoners.

Autopsy photo of an emaciated Holger Meins:
over six feet tall, he weighed less than 100 pounds at death...

The prisoners’ struggle would serve to gain the RAF more than supporters it would also win new recruits, as in the eyes of many German leftists the RAF came to symbolize resistance to the imperialist State, to the “new fascism.”

Following the death of Meins, the prisoners would continue their hunger strike until this regenerated RAF issued a communiqué addressed to them, in which it ordered them to start eating again. The guerilla promised that they would carry out the necessary actions on behalf of the prisoners, explaining that “our weapons which will decide it.”

In April 1975, this came to pass: a group of guerillas, adopting the name “Holger Meins Commando”, stormed the West German embassy in Stockholm, taking twelve hostages. They demanded the release of twenty-six West German political prisoners including Ensslin, Meinhof, Raspe, and Baader. The West German government’s refusal to negotiate prompted the guerillas to execute the Military and Economic Attachés. After twelve hours, as police prepared to storm the building, the explosives the guerilla had laid detonated. One RAF member, Ulrich Wessel, was killed instantly. RAF members Siegfried Hausner, Hanna Krabbe, Karl-Heinz Dellwo, Lutz Taufer and Bernhard Rössner were all captured.

Despite the fact that he had a fractured skull and burns over most of his body, Hausner was only hospitalized for a few days, and then despite the objections of doctors in Sweden and Germany was flown to Stammheim Prison, where he died soon after.

Stockholm 1975: the West German embassy in flames...

The State had attempted to capitalize on its initial capture of the guerilla, only to find that from within prison they had managed to inspire their successors. Chancellor Helmut Schmidt went so far as to state that “anarchist guerillas” now posed the greatest threat the Federal Republic had encountered during its twenty-six year history (3). Destroying the prisoners, or at least undercutting their support, became a top priority.

Fear mongering was stepped up, claims were made that the guerilla had nuclear weapons and was intent on kidnapping children to exchange for the prisoners. No claim was too ridiculous, as those few who had broken were paraded out as state witnesses, alleging all kinds of horrors. Proof, or even mildly convincing evidence, was no longer deemed necessary.

Then on May 9, 1976, the state announced that Ulrike Meinhof had died in her cell, just as her trial was entering a critical phase. The authorities tried to spin a tale that Meinhof had committed suicide by hanging following a period of extreme depression provoked by tension between herself and her co-defendents, particularly between herself and Andreas Baader.

The prisoners, and most of the left, immediately denounced this as impossible, and did not hesitate to accuse the State of killing the woman who many viewed as the RAF’s chief theoretician.

Prisoners in Berlin-Tegel Prison held a three-day hunger strike, and in Paris there were two bombings against West German companies. Thousands reacted with sorrow and rage: “Demonstrations took place across West Germany. In a Frankfurt protest, a policeman was seriously injured. On May 15, some 7,000 people, many with their heads covered to avoid identification by the police, attended Meinhof’s funeral in West Berlin.” (4)

The day of her burial, there were bomb attacks in Hamm, West Germany; Rome, Italy; and Zurich, Switzerland. Three days later there was another demonstration of 8,000 people in West Berlin protesting her murder. On June 2nd the Revolutionary Cells bombed the U.S. Army Headquarters and U.S. Officers’ club in Frankfurt, carrying out the attack under the name “Ulrike Meinhof Commando.” That same day, just outside of the city, two fully loaded military trucks at a U.S. Airbase were blown up.

The defense attorneys called for the formation of an independent international commission of inquiry. As a result, an International Investigatory Commission into the Death of Ulrike Meinhof was formed; it took three years to release its findings, but in 1978 it indicated that there was evidence Meinhof had been brutally raped and murdered.

This then was the context in which the events of 1977 were to unfold. These were the guerilla. This is what they had done. This is what the State had proven itself capable of.

But the story was far from over.

Masked mourners at the funeral of Ulrike Meinhof,
who was raped and murdered by State agents...


Thirty years ago an escalating conflict between the Red Army Faction and the West German state reached its turning point. As events reached their climax in a bloody series of events known as “The German Autumn” every sector of West German society was shaken to the core.

Kersplebedeb will be co-publishing a two volume complete works and history of the Red Army Faction in early 2008. This week, to mark the events of thirty years ago, we will be posting a series of pieces drawn from these books.

More information about the Red Army Faction is available at

For more information about the upcoming two volume history and complete works of the RAF, contact

Tomorrow's installment: The Summer of 77: The Prisoners’ Struggle Heats Up

(1)Varon, Jeremy, Bringing the War Home: The Weather Underground, the Red Army Faction and Revolutionary Violence in the Sixties and Seventies, University of California Press Berkeley and Los Angeles, California: 2004. p. 199.

(2) The 2nd of June Movement took its name form the date of a 1967 demonstration in West Berlin against a visit from the Shah of Iran. A young student named Benno Ohnesorg was shot and killed by police, and many other demonstrators were injured. This proved to be a significant turning point in left wing politics in West Germany.

(3) "From barroom brawls to bombings" Post Herald and Register, Beckley West Virginia, April 27 1975. It must be stressed that the Red Army Faction never were anarchist – they repeatedly affirmed that they were Marxist-Leninists. They considered the State’s practice of labeling them “anarchists” to be a ploy to obscure their own politics, and also to discredit actual anarchists by associating them with "mindless terror."

(4) Varon op cit. p. 234.