German Guerilla: Terror, Reaction and Resistance by Jean-Marcel Bougereau

“The relation between the ends and the means employed becomes insane.”

The book, The German Guerrilla: Terror, Reaction and Resistance written by Jean-Marcel Bougereau and translated by Peter Silcock is a compilation and essays and interviews on the subject of German guerrillas. The book is for anyone interested in the Red Army Faction, urban guerrillas, and/or revolutionary ethics. Contents include:
Preface
Introduction
An Interview with Hans Joachim Klein
Postscript: Political Violence and Liberty
The Moabit Gang of Four
The Berlin Indomitables
Background to the Left German Guerrilla
RAF Philosophy

The story of Hans-Joachim Klein is fascinating. In 1975, Klein was one of a group of Guerrillas who stormed the OPEC headquarters in Vienna. The aim of the commando was to force the OPEC ministers to make declarations of support for the Palestinian cause, and as part of this raid, two ministers–Amouzegar from Iran, and Yamini from Saudi Arabia were targeted for death. The mission resulted in three murders, and Klein was seriously wounded. The hostages–along with Klein were flown to Algeria. Here, Klein recuperated and began to have serious misgivings about his actions.

In the interview Klein admits it was no simple matter to break from his undergound life and his relationship with ‘Carlos.’ According to Klein, he and some of his comrades were pawns of much larger, darker forces, and he came to realize this following Entebbe and after discovering that the guerrilla group received 5 million for placing a suitcase of explosives on a plane. He eventually managed to break free and then began an underground life on the run hiding from both the police and his former comrades. Klein explains why he wrote a letter to Spiegel in which he blew several upcoming commandos that targeted individuals for assassination. He acknowledges that “if you stay with the guerrillas for a long time, then sooner or later, you throw things overboard….from your humanity to your political ideals.”

In the interview Klein also offers contrasts between the three major German revolutionary groups: RAF (Red Army Faction), the June 2nd Movement, and the Revolutionary Cells (Revolutionare Zellen) and explains his evolution from a dissident to a gun-wielding guerrilla. The author includes a good analysis of a “clandestine existence” and concludes that such an existence has an “appalling effect.” He argues in a life cut off from reality, and with a loss of personal identity, the armed revolutionary is caught in an “incestuous circuit of ideas” and that such a dangerous existence inevitably alters “values and moral judgements.”

The book also includes a 27-item questionnaire titled “The Berlin Indomitables” written by the Moabit Gang of Four (Ralf Reinders, Gerald Klopper, Ronald Fritzch, and Fritz Teufel)–members of the June 2nd Movement. Stern, who intended to publish an interview with the Moabit Gang of Four, originally sent this questionnaire, but when the questionnaire was seized as evidence in court, the interview was never published.

Other sections of the book include the “Background to the Left German Guerrilla” and a statement taken from an RAF pamphlet. The latter includes details that question the alleged suicides of Andreas Baader, Jan Carl Raspe, and Gudrun Ensslin that occurred on October 18, 1977 in Stammheim Prison. The authors argue that these members of the RAF were, in fact, murdered by the state.

The book’s fascinating postscript “Political Violence and Liberty” offers a discussion analyzing political violence and its “three main areas of motive or source”: state terrorism, revolutionary terrorism, and violent political reaction. The author, arguing “actions and morality are indivisible,” advocates establishing the groundwork for a “viable alternative society” before attempting to dismantle the old, established order.

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