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Show, Trial, and Error

  • Leith Passmore
Chapter

Abstract

ARAF lawyer wrote in the info that he would respond to a summons for prisoners to appear in a Berlin trial by demanding an end to isolation and an end to the “show trials.” 2 Berlin was a show trial, as was Zweibrücken before it and Frankfurt after it, just not in the sense intended by the lawyer. The trial in Stammheim, however, was the biggest show in town. The Stuttgart suburb of Stammheim has become synonymous with the RAF. It is shorthand for the debate over prison conditions, it will be forever linked with the deaths of the leading RAF figures, and from May 21, 1975, to April 28, 1977, it was the site of the most expensive trial in the history of the Federal Republic. This trial, in particular, provided a stage for both the West German judiciary and the RAF prisoners to communicate with their respective audiences beyond the courtroom. It offered the state the chance to perform due process and reframe the terrorist threat as mere criminality, while for Meinhof and the RAF it offered an opportunity to again repackage the group’s terrorism, this time in terms of human rights and international law. Having reshaped its message for the prison context via self-starvation, the group developed two main performative strategies for the courtroom: the constructions of the “political prisoner” and the “prisoner of war” (POW). Both sets of strategies must, however, be seen in the context of the numerous proceedings that came before Stammheim, during which both sides honed their tactics through a process of trial and error.

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Notes

  1. 3.
    “Denkmal aus Stahl und Beton,” Stefan Aust, Der Baader Meinhof Komplex (Munich: Wilhelm Goldmann Verlag, 1998), 337.Google Scholar
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    “schon Beton gewordenes Urteil,” Helmut Brunn and Thomas Kirn, Rechtsanwälte, Linksanwälte (Frankfurt am Main: Eichborn, 2004), 309; andGoogle Scholar
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    See Jörg Requate, “‘Terroristenanwälte’ und Rechtsstaat: Zur Auseinandersetzung um die Rolle der Verteidiger in den Terroristenverfahren der 1970er Jahre,” in Terrorismus in der Bundesrepublik. Medien, Staat und Subkulturen in den 1970er Jahren, ed. Klaus Weinhauer, Jörg Requate, and Heinz-Gerhard Haupt (Frankfurt: Campus Verlag, 2006), 271;Google Scholar
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  7. Stefan Reinecke, “Die linken Anwälte. Eine Typologie,” in Die RAF und der linke Terrorismus, ed. Wolfgang Kraushaar (Hamburg: Hamburger Edition, 2006), 953–54. A number of high-profile incidents led to this perception of collusion beyond defense: not least of all the Kassiber- Affäre, which saw Otto Schily accused of smuggling a written note from the freshly arrested Ensslin to the still at large Meinhof. Ensslin’s note describing the prison conditions inside was found on Meinhof when she was arrested.Google Scholar
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    See Bakker Schut, Stammheim, 142; and Heinrich Hannover, Terroristenprozesse. Erfahrungen und Erkenntnisse eines Strafverteidigers (Hamburg: VSA-Verlag, 1991), 160.Google Scholar
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    “1. an der Tat, die den Gegenstand der Untersuchung bildet, beteiligt ist, / 2. den Verkehr mit dem nicht auf freiem Fuß befindlichen Beschuldigten dazu mißbraucht, Straftaten zu begehen oder die Sicherheit einer Vollzugsanstalt erheblich zu gefährden, oder / 3. eine Handlung begangen hat, die für den Fall der Verurteilung des Beschuldigten Begünstigung, Strafrereitelung oder Hehlerei wäre,” see Bundesministerium der Justiz, ed., Strafprozessordnung (2008).Google Scholar
  10. (“mg”) after Google searches identified a doctoral thesis and a 1998 article on Kosovo “key words and phrases” that also appeared in “mg” declarations: “draconian,” “implodes,” “propaganda of the deed,” “gentrification,” “inequality.” Evidence collected during the surveillance and additional raids on private residences included two occasions that Andrej met with another suspect for coffee and the fact that Matthias—in his capacity as an academic—had access to libraries, which he could potentially use to compose texts for a terrorist group, although he was not accused of doing so. Andrej was kept in remand for four weeks, which meant 23 hours a day isolation, before the Federal Court of Justice ruled in late November 2007 that “mg” did not constitute a “terrorist organization.” It found that, despite the group’s textual aggression, the string of arson attacks carried out since 2001 on police cars, employment offices, and empty supermarkets were not capable, as required under section 129a, of “substantially damaging the fundamental structures of the state” or “substantially intimidating the population.” The “mg” case revived memories of the RAF not only because of the targets and the mode of attack, the expressed goal of bringing down the capitalist world order, or the fact that “mg” produced declarations justifying its struggle against the “symbols of capitalism” and imperialism that explicitly referenced a text by former RAF terrorist Christian Klar, but also because of the controversial scope of the legislation used to counter the threat. Interestingly, unlike splinter groups of the 1980s and 1990s inspired by the RAF, and indeed the second generation of the RAF, which looked to the RAF martyrs of Stammheim and RAF texts by Meinhof in particular, “mg” cited texts from the second generation of the RAE See Dietmar Hipp, Caroline Schmidt, and Michael Sontheimer, “Gebildet, unauffällig, verdächtig,” Der Spiegel 47 (2007) 52–55;Google Scholar
  11. Dietmar Hipp and Caroline Schmidt, “Mit aller Härte,” Der Spiegel 35 (2007) 48–49: “Bundesrichter sehen ‘militante gruppe’ nicht als Terrorvereinigung,” Spiegel-Online, November 28, 2007, http://www.spiegel.de/ politik/deutschland/0,1518,520245,00.htm1 (accessed March 28, 2011); and Philipp Wittrock, “Wissenschaftler im Visier der Linksterror-Fahnder,” Spiegel-Online, August 2, 2007, http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/0,15 18, 497923,00.html (accessed March 28, 2011).Google Scholar
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    Andreas Baader et al., “Vor einer solchen Justiz verteidigen wir uns nicht. Schlußwort im Kaufhausbrandprozeß,” Voltaire Flugschrifi 27 (1969): 6. Thorwald Proll has since claimed sole authorship of the closing statement; seeGoogle Scholar
  13. Thorwald Proll and Daniel Dubbe, Wir kamen vom anderen Stern. Über 1968, Andreas Baader und ein Kaufhaus (Hamburg: Edition Nautilus, 2003), 43.Google Scholar
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    Ulf G. Stuberger, Die Tage von Stammheim. Als Augenzeuge beim RAF-Prozef (Munich: Herbig, 2007), 43–44.Google Scholar
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    As cited in Sarah Colvin, Ulrike Meinhof and West German Terrorism: Language, Violence, and Identity (New York: Camden House, 2009), 131.Google Scholar
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    Rolf Gössner, Das Anti-Terror-System. Politische Justiz im präventiven Sicherheitsstaat (Hamburg: VSA-Verlag, 1991), 95–98.Google Scholar
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    Volker Speitel, “‘Wir wollten alles und gleichzeitig nichts’ (II),” Der Spiegel 32 (1980): 32.Google Scholar
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  19. Red Cross, Commentary on the Additional Protocols of 8 June 1977 to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 (Geneva: Martinus Nijhoff, 1987), 384–86, 505.Google Scholar
  20. 91.
    Alexander Straßner, Die dritte Generation der “Roten Armee Fraktion.” Entstehung, Struktur, Funktionslogik und Zerfall einer terroristischen Organisation (Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, 2003), 172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 92.
    The RAF called for the formation of a Western European Front in its 1982 May Paper (Mai-Papier). In 1985 Action Directe and the RAF coauthored the text For the Unity of Western European Revolutionaries (Für die Einheit der Revolutionäre in Westeuropa), and carried out simultaneous attacks shortly thereafter. A significant factor in the failure of the Front was the lack of support from the powerful groups in Western Europe: Spain’s Basque Homeland and Freedom (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna, ETA) and the IRA. For example, when the RAF commando that assassinated Ernst Zimmermann in February 1985 took the name of an IRA prisoner who died during the 1981 hunger strike—Patsy O’Hara—the Irish organization rebuked the move as a defilement of O’Hara’s name, see Alexander Straßner, “Die dritte Generation der RAF,” in Die RAF und der linke Terrorismus, ed. Wolfgang Kraushaar (Hamburg: Hamburger Edition, 2006), 504–6.Google Scholar

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© Leith Passmore 2011

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