Widow of RAF Terrorist Victim Outraged Over Blockbuster Film | Culture| Arts, music and lifestyle reporting from Germany | DW | 08.10.2008
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Widow of RAF Terrorist Victim Outraged Over Blockbuster Film

The widow of banker Juergen Ponto, murdered by the Red Army Faction (RAF) in 1977, reportedly returned her Federal Cross of Merit to protest a blockbuster new movie about the terrorist group.

Andreas Baader (Moritz Bleibtreu) und Gudrun Ensslin (Johanna Wokalek) in The Baader-Meinhof Complex

"The Baader-Meinhof Complex" has outraged some victims' families

The banker's family is reportedly incensed by what they say are distortions in the newly released film "The Baader-Meinhof Complex." The movie is a ast-paced account of how a band of left-wing revolutionaries caused mayhem in West Germany with a series of politically-motivated assassinations, bombings and kidnappings in the 1970s.

Ignes Ponto was so upset that she sent back her Federal Cross of Merit, Germany's highest civil award. Ponto was given the medal in 1988 for founding a society to aid the careers of talented young musicians.

Movie "all wrong"

Germany's Federal Cross of Merit

Ponto's widow gave back her award in protest

The Ponto family is not alone in expressing displeasure with the movie. The son of Chief Federal Prosecutor Siegfried Buback, murdered in 1977, said that he and other relatives had not been informed of the contents of the film.

The movie has been praised by some critics for showing members of the infamous urban guerrilla group founded by Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof as brutal murderers rather than romantic desperadoes.

The movie disrespects Ponto's memory, his daughter Corinna Ponto told the Internet site of the Welt newspaper. Everything about the portrayal of Juergen Ponto's murder was false, Corinna Ponto said in the interview. Juergen Ponto, chairman of the Dresdner Bank board of directors, was shot at close range in a botched kidnapping attempt. His wife, Inges Ponto, witnessed the shooting.

Movie praised for not glorifying the terrorists

Director Uli Edel said he aimed to put the record straight by focusing on the carnage and human toll of the Baader-Meinhof gang, later the Red Army Faction whose bloody exploits claimed dozens of lives.

The film went into general release in Germany at the end of September. It is believed to have been one of the most expensive German films ever made. Germany's film export board has nominated the movie for the February 2009 Oscars as best foreign film of the year and German judges said the work "gave a picture of the 1970s without glorifying" the terrorists.

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