New Pictures of RAF Terror Cell Events Unearthed in Germany | Germany | News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 05.08.2008

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New Pictures of RAF Terror Cell Events Unearthed in Germany

Some 30 years after a number of RAF terrorists committed suicide in Stuttgart-Stammheim prison, more than 400 previously unknown police photographs, taken the morning after the deaths, have been uncovered.

Ulrike Meinhof at her arrest

Meinhof hanged herself in 1976

The deaths of the prisoners – including Ulrike Meinhof, who hanged hereself on May 9, 1976, and Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin and Jan-Carl Raspe, who are said to have committed suicide in a high-security block during the night of Oct. 18, 1977, became known as Death Night for the leaders of the Red Army Faction.

These were among the events collectively known as the German Autumn, which also included a series of terrorist attacks and the West German government's response.

Debate over suicides

According to a report in the Stuttgarter Zeitung on Tuesday, Aug. 5, the pictures include images of the abduction of leading RAF terrorists Baader, Ensslin and Raspe, as well as the emergency operation performed on Irmgard Moeller, who tried to kill herself by stabbing herself four times in the chest.

ARCHIV - Das undatierte Tableau zeigt die ab 1970 per Haftbefehl von den deutschen Justizbehörden gesuchten Terroristen (obere Reihe, l-r): Andreas Baader, Ulrike Meinhof, Gudrun Ensslin, Ronald Augustin, (untere Reihe l-r): Jan-Carl Raspe, Klaus Jünschke, Ilse Stachowiak und Irmgard Möller. Ulrike Meinhof, Andreas Baader und Gudrun Ensslin - drei Namen, die für die 1970 gegründete terroristische Rote Armee Fraktion (RAF) stehen. In den folgenden zwei Jahrzehnten überzog die Gruppe um diese Führungsriege die Bundesrepublik mit einer Spur der Gewalt. Mit einem vergleichsweise harmlosen Dokument, das vor genau einem Jahrzehnt am 20. April 1998 bei einer Nachrichtenagentur einging, beendete die RAF ihr Projekt. Wer die achtseitige «Auflösungserklärung» der Terrorgruppe verfasst hat, ist bis heute ebenso ungeklärt wie die letzten Morde, die im Namen der RAF begangen wurden. ***Zu Schmidt, 10 Jahre Selbstauflösung der RAF - Aufarbeitung der Terror-Zeit noch nicht abgeschlossen***

Germany sought the terrorists with 'Wanted' posters

She survived her suicide attempt and has since stated that the deaths were not suicide, but rather extrajudicial killings undertaken by the German government of the time, a claim strongly denied by German governments, former and present.

Photos show "nothing new"

The pictures were discovered in a suitcase in the basement of a house a week ago, and had been taken by a long-deceased police photographer. Now they have been given to the Stuttgart prosecutor's office for further examination, a spokeswoman for the investigators confirmed.

On first look, the photos don't show anything new, the spokeswoman said.

“Possibly, a few well-known pictures are shown again from a different angle,” she added.

The newspaper further reported that the pictures were mostly taken to be used in the so-called Stammheim Deaths Trial. The files of the hotly debated trial were sent to the state archive in Ludwigsburg in 2005, but a few months ago were retrieved by the Stuttgart prosecutors' office.

Prosecutor: new look at case unlikely

Now they are checking whether new investigations will be made into the politically explosive case.

Gudrun Ensslin, center, and Andreas Baader taken in May 1977.

Two of the RAF leaders, Ensslin and Baader

The spokeswoman for the prosecutors' office said the files had been moved for space reasons. When the media began reporting last year that security officers may have allowed the suicides to happen, investigators sought the files out again – “a completely normal thing to do.”

However, she said there are no indications pointing to a new look into the events of the autumn of 1977.

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