- Gebundene Ausgabe: 424 Seiten
- Verlag: Authorhouse (18. Februar 2014)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 149184437X
- ISBN-13: 978-1491844373
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 15,2 x 2,7 x 22,9 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 2 Kundenrezensionen
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 256.721 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
Hitler's Children: The Story of the Baader-Meinhof Terrorist Gang (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 18. Februar 2014
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Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende
Jillian Becker is the author of several novels and works of nonfiction, including" The PLO" and "Hitler s Children". She lives in England.
The best books on RAF are from Stefan Aust and may Carolin Emcke. I don' t know whether they have been translated into English.
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To make it clear: There is nothing in this book that deserves 3 stars. The contents (results of obviously ample research) deserve 5 stars. The writing, however, deserves only 1 star, and even this star is actually 1 star too many.
The book reads like a badly written dissertation (and it might have served as one). I am not even talking about the numerous typos, spelling mistakes, grammar mistakes, and false or unclear modifiers; I am talking about the miserable writing style. It varies from chapter to chapter. Some chapters are narrated like 8th-grade essays that deserve no better than a C. Others are written in less-than-mediocre satire style. And the sarcasm of yet some other chapters reads uncomfortably like wannabe-satire. Why on earth couldn’t this author, at least, stick to one style, be it ever so bad?
This being said, the book tells a fascinating story about initially somewhat justified student protests turned into decades of terrorism that caused immense damage and cost many lives.
I had heard about these terrorists sporadically, during the 1960s, while I was living in Canada. And then, when I returned to Germany, in September 1970, I found these terrorists almost daily in the news, and they stayed in the news throughout the 1970s and even 1980s. The media had named them Baader-Meinhof Gang, after two of their infamous celebrity members, Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof. More accurately, they should have been called Baader-Ensslin Gang, as Andreas Baader and Gudrun Ensslin were a pair, and Gudrun Ensslin, driven by hysteria and lust to kill, had been the loudest crier for violence, demanding the acquisition of weapons, long before Ulrike Meinhof, a journalist, had become a criminal. Or maybe, even more accurately, these terrorists should have been called the Horst Mahler Gang, because their lawyer, Horst Mahler, was the actual brain of the group.
I read some reviews of this book on Goodreads and also on Amazon, and I was appalled. Most reviewers criticized the reviewer not for her bad writing style but accused her of being biased. They obviously sympathized with these terrorists. I could hardly believe it.
Let me assure you: These gang members were AT NO TIME peaceful demonstrators or protesters. Even in the early stages of the group, when they only demonstrated and protested against outdated university rules and customs, they were totally out of line, breaking the law, causing damage, and provoking authorities in every possible way. At no time did they wish to have their “problems” solved. They declined any mediation. (And there were repeated offers of mediation by clerics, high politicians, and even by sympathizing leftist university professors and philosophers, among them Herbert Marcuse and Jean-Paul Sartre.) And they continued spreading terror long after their initial demands were met with university reforms.
I must admit that I never really understood what these terrorists wanted. (Other people I talked to didn’t either.) Reading this book, I came to the conclusion that these terrorists didn’t know themselves what they wanted, at least, not in a political way.
They all seemed to have different agendas. The only things they had in common was that they were against all authority (that is, they were anarchists) and that they eventually enjoyed violence for violence’s sake. Laying bombs and killing (mostly innocent) people had become their favorite activity. They were also all Leftists, with many of them dreaming to get the working class to join them to form a Marxist society, yet they didn’t approve of Soviet communism, and quite a few of them (among them Andreas Baader) had probably never read Karl Marx’s “The Communist Manifesto”.
Their initial terrorist acts were clumsy and stupid, reminding of comedies with idiot criminal protagonists. Later, they became more skilled and considerably more destructive and murderous.
(What I still cannot understand is that these terrorists triggered violent student revolts in numerous other countries and on several continents, causing considerable damage and also loss of life. Why don’t students, who are supposed to become intellectuals, take a closer look at whom they are imitating and/or following?)
Several main culprits of the Baader-Meinhof Gang were eventually caught and imprisoned. Some escaped. Some were shot. One died of a hunger strike in prison. Others went underground. And a few, namely, Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin, Jan-Carl Raspe, and Ulrike Meinhof committed suicide in prison, attempting to make it look like murder.
For more facts and details, please see the Wikipedia entry. Here is the link:
While Wikipedia supplies a lot of info, it is in no way a substitute for the above book, which, despite of its shortcomings, is a must-read no one should miss.
The most bizarre story in the book is about a gang-sympathizing and obviously insane psychiatrist, who told his patients, in a mental hospital, that the only reason for their mental illness was society. He managed to get a group of severely mentally ill patients into a workshop where his wife taught them bomb-making and bomb-laying. He further managed that these brainwashed mental patients were released and turned into terrorists, associated with the Baader-Meinhof Gang. They launched a hostage-taking attack on the German embassy in Stockholm (with the purpose of freeing all incarcerated Baader-Meinhof Gang members in Germany). When their plan didn’t work out, they shot a few of their hostages and, then, blew up the upper floor of the building, injuring fatally two of their own. (They hadn’t mastered the bomb-laying they had been taught.)
Another irony of the Baader-Meinhof Gang is that they declared every non-Leftist a Nazi, but at the same time practiced anti-Semitism and would have shot all Jewish passengers of a hijacked plane, in Entebbe, where the plane had landed, had not Israeli special forces freed the hostages and shot the terrorists.
The Baader-Meinhof Gang called itself RAF (abbr. for Red Army Fraction). After Andreas Baader’s, Gudrun Ensslin’s, Jan-Carl Raspe’s, and Ulrike Meinhof’s deaths (following the failed hostage taking in Stockholm), the new generation of terrorist gang members was also referred to as RAF by the media. The terrorism continued, and Wanted posters showing photographs with names and other known details of some 50 to 100 RAF terrorists were hung at all public places.
It was in 1981 or 1982, when I took a train from Munich to Petershausen, one evening. There were only few passengers. I was seated alone in one compartment, when another passenger arrived in a hurry. The young man sat down and behaved like a hunted deer. He first looked anxiously out of the window, screening the platform. Then, when the train started moving, he kept anxiously checking the aisle. The anxious screening of the platform was repeated at every train stop, and the anxious checking of the aisle went on throughout most of the time while the train was moving. I don’t remember why I didn’t leave the compartment. I should have. Maybe I was just fascinated by this man’s behavior. It was an “S-Bahn” (= a commuter train). Peterhausen was the end of the line. As soon as the train stopped, my fellow passenger jumped out of the train, whereas I took my time. All passengers departed and left for the huge parking lot, while I went to my car, which was parked quite a distance from the parking lot, not too far from the station building. When I got to my car, there stood this young man. He still had the attitude of a fugitive. His eyes were fluttering, and he nervously kept checking his surroundings. He asked me to give him a ride to Hilgertshausen, which was about 20 km away. I declined and said that I was headed in a different direction (which I was). He repeated his request with more urgency. I declined again. After this, the look on his face and also his body language let me fear for my safety. I thought he’d grab me any moment and force me into the car. He was tall and well-built. I wouldn’t have stood a chance to fight him. I evaluated for a moment whether it would make sense to even try. Then, all of a sudden, he froze, turned around and ran off in full speed. This was when it came to my mind that he might be one of the wanted RAF terrorists. I returned to the empty station building to look at the Wanted poster. And there he was—the 4th on the top line.
I drove home with the intent to call police. Yet my significant other (later 2nd husband) talked me out of it. He argued that police officers weren’t always the brightest, and that this man knew my face and my car (a little lemon-yellow Fiat, which was easy to spot). Besides, had he registered the number of my license plate, it would not be difficult to obtain our address. I reluctantly relented but had a bad conscience about it whenever I thought of it, until I read the above book. Mind you, I knew that these terrorists were dangerous, but only when I read this book, I fully comprehended HOW dangerous and revengeful they were. So in retrospect, my husband’s insistence not to call police had, under the circumstances, probably been best after all.
I had forgotten the name of this terrorist over the years. Yet searching my memory and looking at images of the RAF members on Google, I recently identified him again as Christian Klar.
The Guardian writes: "Klar was convicted in 1985 for his involvement in nine murders in 1977, including the killings of bank head Jürgen Ponto, industrialist Hanns-Martin Schleyer and federal prosecutor Siegfried Buback. He was sentenced to six life terms to run concurrently and served longer in prison than any other RAF terrorist."
Klar was set free in 2008, much to the quite understandable dismay of the descendants of his victims.
More about Christian Klar can be found on Google, for instance, by going to the following link:
As we all know, terrorism is a problem to this day. And while the terror groups change, their agendas tend to be rather flimsy. It seems to me that what really spurs them is power-craving, enjoyment of destruction, enjoyment of violence, and sheer lust to kill.
Reading this book, the reader not only gets a chance to “look into different terrorists’ brains” but also learns what the German justice system will tolerate (so many of these terrorists avoided convictions), learns how some university professors propagate theories that inspire students to become terrorists, and last but not least, learns how a crazy psychiatrist couldn’t be stopped turning mentally ill patients into terrorists and setting them free to commit violent crimes. If this isn’t a must-read, then what is?
P.S. I am utterly opposed to the book’s title. There is nothing to indicate in this book that all—or even the majority—of these terrorists had Nazis for parents. Thus, my conclusion is that the author depicts all of my generation as “Hitler’s children”. Here, I personally take offense. None of my ancestors (or other close relatives) were Nazis. Neither were the parents and/or grandparents of about half of my generation. At the last free elections, in 1932, Hitler’s party got no more than 39-point-something percent of the votes. Hitler only came to power due to a coalition with the Center Party (which he soon pushed out of the government) and also due to President Hindenburg’s significant senility and dementia. Once Hitler was in power, his ongoing propaganda and brainwash probably recruited more followers. My wild guess is that by the end of the war, about half of the German population were Nazis. To depict all Germans as Nazis is not only wrong but also highly insulting.
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