Brigitte Mohnhaupt: Led 1970s terrorist onslaught
26 March 2007, Karlsruhe, Germany (dpa) - Brigitte Mohnhaupt, the 57-year-old German woman who has been released from jail Sunday, was a main leader of the bloodiest wave of leftwing terrorist attacks against the West German establishment. That nightmare, climaxing in the so-called German autumn of 1977, began with the April 7, 1977 assassination of Germany's federal prosecutor-general, Siegfried Buback, who was leading the fight to uncover and destroy the Red Army Faction (RAF) terrorist group. Mohnhaupt
26 March 2007
Karlsruhe, Germany (dpa) - Brigitte Mohnhaupt, the 57-year-old German woman who has been released from jail Sunday, was a main leader of the bloodiest wave of leftwing terrorist attacks against the West German establishment.
That nightmare, climaxing in the so-called German autumn of 1977, began with the April 7, 1977 assassination of Germany's federal prosecutor-general, Siegfried Buback, who was leading the fight to uncover and destroy the Red Army Faction (RAF) terrorist group.
Mohnhaupt can thank her onetime enemy for her release, almost exactly 30 years later, after serving 24 years of a life sentence for murder. The federal prosecutions office recommended she be paroled.
Germans are hoping that history will not repeat itself. The last time Mohnhaupt was freed from jail, in early February 1977, she rapidly reorganized the tattered RAF, restoring covert communications between the group's jailed founders and underground members outside.
In her own words, she found "a little club infested with police informers and incapable of mounting operations," purged it and within two months was ready for assassinations, bombings and bank robberies.
Mohnhaupt, a middle-class former student whose father was a businessman and who had meant to become a journalist, was chief planner in the April killing of Buback by an RAF team.
Though not all has been revealed, historians believe she was the strategist of the RAF until she was captured on November 11, 1982.
She certainly had considerable authority among the terrorists, as she had gone underground at the start of 1971, making her part of the original "struggle," and she had been coached by the founders of the RAF in Stammheim Prison near Stuttgart.
Incredibly, the RAF prisoners were allowed four hours a day with one another and Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin and other founders of the Baader-Meinhof Gang groomed her as their second-generation successor.
Mohnhaupt was more than just the brains of the underground group: she was also a cold-blooded killer. In July 1977, when the group tried to abduct the chief executive of Dresdner Bank, Juergen Ponto, he fought back and she immediately shot and killed him.
In September 1977, the RAF escalated its war against the West German authorities, kidnapping national employers' leader Hanns- Martin Schleyer, who was murdered weeks later. Some 20 RAF members took part in the abduction and Mohnhaupt was the ringleader.
She also arranged with a Palestinian terrorist group to jointly hijack a Lufthansa passenger jet to Mogadishu, Somalia. The plot, aimed at forcing the release of Baader, Ensslin and others, failed when crack German police stormed the plane.
By the end of 1977, the RAF had murdered nine people, and might well have killed five more if a fresh attack on federal prosecutors had not failed.
German authorities are confident that Mohnhaupt will not resume violence, if only because the RAF no longer exists.
Even if she has not admitted that terrorism in itself was wrong, the judges who granted her parole say she seems to have seriously questioned the evil it brought about.
The written judicial decision describes her reasoning for not apologizing to relatives of her victims. She told the judges that someone could excuse themself for many missteps in daily life, but not for the loss of a human being.
Subject: German news