Natürlich könnte man für die Basisarbeit auch drei Sterne vergeben, aber das Lesevergnügen bei der Aneinanderreihung von z.B. 80 Befangenheitsanträgen der RAF-Anwälte ist gleich null. Natürlich waren die später zu Ministerehren gelangten RAF-Anwälte Otto Schily und Rupert von Plottwitz noch lange politisch aktiv, aber alles in allem ist dieses Standardwerk ein einziges Namedropping und eben so visuell wie die Einträge in einem Telefonbuch. Aber der Schleyer-Entführer und Ex-Junkie genießt den Ruf eines Karl May der RAF, insofern sind seine Infos höchst fragwürdig, auch wenn er fraglos viel besser erzählen kann als der Hauptautor dieses schlecht motivierten Sammelsuriums.
I think the very moment they recruited Ulrike Meinhof, at the time a respected and well-known political reporter and documentary film-maker, as she helped to spring Baader from custody and in the process killing a security guard, is the breaking-point where all was let loose for the RAF. The RAF assassinated, kidnapped, robbed and created propaganda and terror all throughout their maintenance; against popular belief, the group existed even after the suicides/murders in the Stannheim prison in 1978, when the founding members and additional members were found dead - except for one survivor. Did they in fact allow the guns that killed some of the prisoners to be imported? The RAF did do something, which was their forté; the fact that they killed people at all is despicable, but didn't the government do the same in the process?
I'd been eyeballing this book for months and decided to pick it up after I saw the movie (which was good, too, but left me with a ton of questions).
The problem is that the author didnt actually go to the trouble to write a book. The biographical essays tell virtually nothing about a person other than straight facts but really give no help in figuring out how they ended up in a radical leftist terrorist group. Also, a map showing the key cities and towns mentioned and their relationship to East and West Germany would also have been helpful. Also, the author mentions Berlin quite often without making it clear if he is talking about East or West Berlin. The great book on the history of the RAF is still waiting to be written.
The RAF managed to unleash a wave of crime that forced the German authorities to modernize their means of investigation and prosecution. A good read for understanding how messy political struggle becomes when power and violence come into play.
It's hard to read the book and keep track of big developments.
For example, in the end of the book Aust speculates on why the RAF's prison's security was so tremendously lax to allow weapons and communication technology into the prison, Aust focuses on the circumstantial evidence that the prison cells were bugged by Germany, which leads to the question as to why the terrorists were not stopped from killing themselves. (There is another interesting detail with this - the German state thought there were about 1200 dangerous RAF members at the time in Germany, similar to what I now hear on Islamistic terrorists. This is now being echoed in the NSU scandal, where it looks like the same office helped a Neonazi terrorist cell in murdering of foreigners, see Wikipedia. This is a quote from when the RAF stole a Mercedes, accidentally scratched some other cars with it, left the Mercedes there, after which someone else slashed all tires of the Mercedes with a knife: Einige meinten, beim Zerstechen der Reifen habe sich wohl um den Racheakt des Besitzers eines der beschädigten Wagen gehandelt. Ulrike Meinhof started to create an extensive political interpretation: 'I think this is an important and a justified act of defense by the citizen or perhaps self-help that does not wait for help from the police.' She connected her arguments to the self-help actions of the American civil rights movement. So this is progress in the direction of a growing politically aware and self-acting proletariat.' I'd think different if someone slashed the tires of my fancy new (stolen) car.
"Baader-Meinhof: The Inside Story of the R.A.F." is an interesting and important book that explores the history of a group of self-described revolutionaries and their attempts at revolution in then West Germany. The story of the R.A.F. is a look at politics taken to its bitter end by group for whom compromise was not an option. In Germany during the late 1960s, student movements and demonstrations led to responses from the government that reinforced the belief among the future R.A.F. members and others that West Germany intended to create a new police state. For the founding members of the R.A.F., the response is to meet violence with violence as a way to bring the Communist revolutionary struggle to West Germany. At the same time, hes not willing to give the West German government a free pass for its actions in fighting terrorism. Aust writes for a German audience (the book was translated to English by Anthea Bell) whom he assumes knows the basics of the Baader-Meinhoff story. The book is divided essentially into three parts the founding of the group and its early actions, the trial of the four founders and later efforts to free them. In U.S. history books, after the war West Germany becomes an ally of the United States in the fight against Communism. The R.A.F. is created in part by the following of revolutionary politics to its logical end. In the same measure, the R.A.F. could have played a political role in creating a Germany that valued more the individual at the expense of state power.