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Hanns Martin Schleyer was held hostage by the RAFImage: picture-alliance/dpa

The German Autumn

Klaus Dahmann
April 22, 2013

In an attempt to force the release of their imprisoned leaders, members of the Red Army Faction kidnap industry representative Hanns Martin Schleyer. Shortly there after, Palestinian terrorists hijack a Lufthansa plane.


Eleven of the founding members of the German left-wing terrorist group Red Army Faction have been held in prison in Stuttgart-Stammheim since 1972. In an attempt to force their release, a younger generation of RAF members violently kidnap business executive and President of the Federation of German Industries, Hanns Martin Schleyer on Sept. 5, 1977. Four people die in the hostage attack. It is the start of what will later be called the "German Autumn of Terror". For 44 days, Germany remains in a state of emergency as government leaders refuse to give in to the demands of the terrorists.

On October 13, four Palestinian terrorists hijack a Lufthansa airplane with 87 passengers. The terrorists support the RAF in the international guerrilla war and want to increase the pressure on the German government. They threaten to kill the passengers if the RAF prisoners are not released from jail. After a dramatic flight, the plane lands in Mogadishu. Five days later a special task force storms the plane and frees the passengers. The RAF prisoners in Stuttgart-Stammheim hear the news and commit suicide. A day later Hanns Martin Schleyer is found dead.

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