Throughout the 1970s, there was no more feared group of terrorists.
On the surface, they were militant revolutionaries.
But in reality they were 'Hitler's Children' - both in the sense that most of them were born during the Nazi regime, and in the sense that they were fiercely opposed to individual freedom and liberal democracy.
In this ground-breaking book, Jillian Becker examines the roots of the Gang. The terrorists in the Federal Republic of Germany came out of the pacifist ‘new left’ student protest movement of the late 1960s. Few in number, almost all of them came from prosperous, educated families. Unaware how closely they resembled their Nazi predecessors, they described themselves as ‘anti-fascist’. ‘Fascism’, they claimed, lay just under the surface of liberal democracy and would be called into the open by the use of terrorist violence.
They were beneficiaries of American aid, and of the West German ‘economic miracle’, and they had no cause of their own to fight for. And so they identified themselves with Third World victims of wars, poverty and oppression, whose plight they blamed on ‘Western imperialism’.
In the name of ‘peace’, ‘national liberation’, ‘anti-imperialism’, and ‘anti-capitalism’, they killed Germans, Americans, Jews and others with bullets and bombs.
Their dreams of leading a revolution were ended when one after another of them died in shoot-outs with the police, or was blown up with him own bomb, or was arrested and condemned to long terms of imprisonment. All four leader of the Gang eventually committed suicide in prison.
Detailed biographical portraits, especially of Ulrike Meinhof and Gudrun Ensslin, reveal how they laid waste their own lives, and drove themselves furiously to their own destruction.
'A first rate piece of journalism in the best sense of the word ... Ms Becker is the only person who has managed in recent years to tell me something which I had not heard before about these desperate, hysterical, perverted idealists whose revolt against authoritarianism ... made them indistinguishable from fascists' The Times
'Jillian Becker finds an uncanny similarity between those supposedly leftist views and those expressed in Mein Kampf more than 50 years ago' TIME
'An important and highly readable book, thoroughly researched and written with the pace and excitement of a crime thriller' TLS
'A serious and readable study of events which few people in Britain have seriously tried to understand' The Observer
'Superbly researched . . . Mrs Becker has performed a great service with this book' Sunday Telegraph
Jillian Becker was born in Johannesburg in 1932. She has had a strong interest in Germany for many years, a concern which now finds expression in Hitler's Children. Jillian Becker also writes fiction. Her titles include ‘The Keep’, ‘The Union’, and ‘The Virgins’, all of which have been highly praised by the critics.
Endeavour Press is the UK's leading independent publisher of digital books.