German Prison for RAF Terrorists Faces Tear-Down | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 02.08.2007
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German Prison for RAF Terrorists Faces Tear-Down

Officials in the German state of Baden-Württemberg are planning to tear down the section of the infamous Stammheim prison where the leaders of the RAF terrorist group where held and killed themselves during the 1970s.

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Time's up for the Baader-Meinhof gang's last abode

"We are considering demolishing the high-rise building which is in urgent need of renovation," said Ulrich Goll, Baden-Württemberg's justice minister.

Red Army Faction (RAF) leaders Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin, Ulrike Meinhof and Jan-Carl Raspe had their cells on the seventh floor of the high-security prison wing where they committed suicide.

The four also went on trial at the prison, which became synonymous with the conflict between the state and the RAF during what is known as the German autumn of 1977. The RAF carried out a series of robberies, bombings and kidnappings in former West Germany.

Maximum security

Baader and Ensslin during their trial

Baader and Ensslin during their trial

Around 850 inmates are currently serving sentences at the prison, located between fields and apartment blocks on the northern edge of Stuttgart.

Built between 1959 and 1963, it went into service one year later and was considered the most secure prison in Germany at the time.

State officials said new prison quarters would be built on the site of the demolished building.

Talking terrorists

Close-up of windows in the Stammheim prison

The prison is in dire need of renovation

The four leaders of the RAF, also known as the Baader-Meinhof gang, can be heard on 21 audio tapes of the 1975-77 Stammheim trial that were discovered recently in a courtroom basement.

Thye were found by researchers for a television documentary, which is due to be broadcast in September to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the start of the so-called "German Autumn."

Meinhof was found hanged in her cell in 1976. Baader, Ensslin and Raspe were sentenced to life imprisonment in April 1977 and died in their cells six months later after taking their own lives.

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