The Stammheim Deaths

Radio broadcasts on the morning of October 18, 1977 were full of news about the reported suicide of Jan Carl Raspe, Gudrun Ensslin and Andreas Baader and of the attempted suicide of Irmgard Moller. The evening television news brought more of the same.

"Three suicides — a signal for new terror?"(1) reported the front page of Die Welt, one of the largest daily newspapers in Germany; "Hostages free — Suicides in Stammheim"(2) read the headlines in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung; "Three Baader-Meinhof prisoners commit suicide"(3) appeared sprawled across the front page of the Westfalische Rundschau; and the version in the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung was "Suicide: Baader, Raspe, Ensslin."(4)

There was not one report referring to the deaths of these three prisoners. The possibility that the cause of death could be one other than that of suicide was never suggested. The chances that the thought could occur to someone to question the official causes of death were largely reduced because official reports, press conferences, news reports etc., dealing with the events at Stammheim always referred to the suicides as if this were a proven fact, although determination of the cause of death without an autopsy is medically impossible. "In cases of hanging, suicide is often assumed too hastily. For that reason, it should be expressly pointed out, that an answer to the question, a suicidal death or non-suicidal death, isn't possible in any case by observation alone."(5) Gudrun Ensslin apparently died by hanging. Her lawyer, Otto Schily, was present at the initial inquest; as the cell door was opened, he saw only the feet of a body covered with a brown blanket hanging from the bars in the window.(6) The autopsy didn't begin until late in the afternoon of October 18 and went on until 5 o'clock the following morning.(7) An autopsy report has not appeared to this day (December, 1977).

Nevertheless, the Frankfurter Rundschau reported on October 19,1977: "Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin and Jan Carl Raspe took their lives on Tuesday morning in their cells in the Stuttgart-Stammheim prison. Irmgard Moller also attempted to take her life. She stabbed herself many times with a bread knife … Baader and Raspe shot themselves in their cells with two pistols, one a 7.65mm calibre and the other a 9mm calibre … The suicides were discovered as two prison guards entered Raspe's cell at 7.41 a.m. with his breakfast…"(8) In the widely read Bild newspaper: "8.02 — in panic, the prison guards open the cell of Gudrun Ensslin — another frightful discovery: the terrorist had spread a wool blanket in front of the window and had hung herself behind it. Her bare feet dangled approx. 40 centimetres over the floor."(9) And this remark was to be found in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: "What Gudrun Ensslin hung herself with is not yet certain, explained the minister (the minister for Justice — Traugott Bender), since, as of yet, nobody has entered the cells since the discovery of the suicides."(10)

Alone the single fact that directly after discovery of the deaths without any investigation of the bodies at all, all reports dealt with the term suicide, alone this fact should be reason enough to reflect. And reflection can lead to doubt.

Some things to reflect on: No Fingerprints

"Fingerprints were found neither on the pistol nor on the knife, The public prosecutor's office explained that this was because the weapons were so found of blood that traces could not be determined."(11) — a report stated nine days after the discovery of the deaths. Nineteen days later came a new version. "Chief of the State Criminal Department and head of the investigation team for the events in Stammheim, Mr. Testor, confirmed reports that 'contrary to the first statements, no blood was found on Raspe's pistol' Testor attempted to explain the fact that no fingerprints were found on either of the weapons or on the kitchen knife that Irmgard Moller used for her suicide, according to official statements, with the following words: 'If the weapons had been polished with a cloth before the act, then no usable traces could have remained after only being used once'."(12)

No fingerprints — weapons full of blood. No blood. Weapons polished — still no fingerprints.

The Weapons

And how did the weapons get into the prisoners' cells? The prison cells of Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin and Jan Carl Raspe were thoroughly searched on the night of September 5, 1977. During this search, "radios, record players and diverse electrical apparatus were removed from the cells and given to the prison officials."(13) According to information in a letter from the Federal Ministry for Justice, Andreas Baader was removed from his cell and placed in a new cell on September 14, 1977 (14) and according to statements made by Bender (Minister of Justice for the State of Baden-Wutemburg), the cells of the Baader-Meinhof prisoners in Stammheim were searched 'practically daily.'"(15) Nevertheless, Spiegel reports that as the prison guards removed the radio, TV and record player from Gudrun Ensslin's cell. "exactly that piece of cable on which the corpse hung, remained in the cell unnoticed … in Irmgard Moller's room, the investigators discovered headphones, in which cables were hidden, in a hiding-place in the wall under the wash basin on Friday last week. Andreas Baader had a place in his record player with a holder for a pistol."(16) But Andreas Baader didn't have a record player in his cell; it was removed on September 5, 1977! And the officers who carried out the searches in the cells of the prisoners considered to be the most dangerous terrorists in the entire country are supposed to have over-looked two revolvers and one knife! How could such a slip-up have occurred to German authorities from the German administration which is otherwise worldwide renowned for its perfectionism? All this occurred in a prison especially designed to confine five prisoners: Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin, Jan Carl Raspe, Ulrike Ukeinhof (who died in her prison cell on May 8, 1976 at Stammheim — supposedly a suicide) and Holger Meins (who died in November, 1974 in a hunger 1974 strike against the conditions of isolation imprisonment), a prison which cost 10 million German marks (approx. 5 million dollars).

Perhaps the lawyers smuggled the weapons to the prisoners. "One cannot exclude the possibility that a lawyer could have illegally given a prisoner objects during a visit"(17) explained Engler, director of the prison.

"Before visiting the terrorists, the lawyers also have to be searched with a metal detector. They have to deposit their bags in front of the visitors' room and aren't allowed to take a Dictaphone in with them. The prisoners receive new clothes and underwear after they have been stripped naked, both before and after the conversations with their lawyers."(18) Otto Schily, Gudrun Ensslin's lawyer, explained that the contents of his briefcase were removed by the authorities at the prison and all documents and dossiers were read. (That means, that the authorities had read all the information concerning the prisoner and the preparation for the trial). He was searched both bodily and with a metal detector; his shoes, which had metal clips on the soles, had to be removed before entering the visitors' room.(19) Officials have admitted to bugging visiting rooms for lawyers and their clients in prisons. "The Minister of Justice for the State of Baden-Wurtemberg, Traugott Bender, and the Minister of Internal Affairs, Karl Schieb, reported to the press in Stuttgart, that conversations between the accused in the Stammheim RAF-trial and their lawyers were overheard in two cases over a short period of time."(20) That was in March, 1977. If conversations were overheard in March, why not in October? If the visits between lawyer and prisoner were overheard, why not watched on television cameras, too?

Since September 6, 1977, smuggling of weapons to the four prisoners through the lawyers was made impossible as the lawyers were forbidden to have any contact whatsoever with their clients. (This practice — the so-called Kontaksperre — became law on October 2, 1977). In fact, the prisoners were cut off from all contact outside of their cells — no letters, no visitors, no newspapers, no radio, no TV, no common activities with other prisoners, since the 'Kontaksperre' was introduced at the beginning of September.

Great excitement was caused when a second door to the Baader-Meinhof prisoners on the seventh floor at Stammheim was "suddenly discovered" on November 3, 1977 (although Otto Schily has known of this door since the death of Ulrike Meinhof at Stammheim in 1975). "It concerns a door to the fire escape with doors to each floor, which however, can only be opened with a special key from outside and not at all from the inside. If this door should be opened to the 7th floor, then an alarm is set off, which, however, as confirmed, can be switched off. The door to the fire escape that opens into the hall, which also served as a common room could not be seen from the observation room in which the security guards spent the night of October 18."(21) Perhaps someone came through this door to smuggle the weapons into the prisoners' cells. But who could have gotten hold of the special key and who could have turned off alarm system? Perhaps a sympathiser or a lawyer or someone else more familiar with the prison…?

In the meantime, the hiding-place for the weapons had supposedly been uncovered. "The criminal police photographed where the weapons were hidden: Raspe's pistol in a hole behind the skirting boards without the handle coverings in order to make it smaller; Baader's weapon, in his record player."(22)"It remained unclear, yesterday, October 18 as to how the weapons could find then way into the prison,"(23) and it has remained unclear to the present day. A special investigation committee has been formed in order to clarify this mystery.(24) An attempt, however, is being made to make the thought more plausible that the weapons must have been smuggled into the prison somehow, by reports at well-timed intervals of astonishing find in the cells of these and other imprisoned "terrorists."

October 20:
"According to the public prosecutor's office, a Sanyo transistor radio, the size of the palm of the hand, was found in Jan Carl Raspe 's cell tuned to the first station of the Southern German radio network. The radio was hidden behind the bed rolled up in a pullover. It is now clear how the prisoners heard about the freeing of the Lufthansa hostages in spite of the Kontaksperre."(25)

October 22:
"In terrorist cell, explosives discovered! In the prison tract where the Baader-Meinhof terrorists are imprisoned, 270 grams of explosives were found behind the skirting boards … The cell on the seventh floor of the prison in Stammheim was not occupied recently but had served as a storage room, for books among other things. Andreas Baader, Jan Carl Raspe and Gudrun Ensslin has access to this cell up until the 'Kontaksperre' which was last occupied by the Baader-Meinhof prisoner Helmut Pohl from July 6 until August 12."(26)

October 24:
"Also razor blades in Baader-buildings. The thorough searching of the Baader-Meinhof tract on the seventh floor of the prison in Stuttgart-Stammheim, in which the anarchists Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin and Jan Carl Raspe took their lives on Tuesday, was continued throughout the weekend. During those searches, once again, a hole under the wash basin was found in one cell, in which a stomach pump, razor blades and a putty-like mass were hidden."(27)

October 27:
"Radios also in Werl, Berlin and Frankfurt in terrorist cells discovered in controls on October 18. After the discovery of the pistols, explosives and a transistor radio in the Baader-Meinhof prison tract in Stuttgart-Stammheim, a mini radio and headphones were found in terrorist cells in Werl, Frankfurt and Berlin."(28)

November 12:
"Explosives in terrorist tract in Stammheim. Explosives have again been found in the terrorist tract in the Stammheim prison. The public prosecutor's office reported that a construction team had found 400 grams of explosives in a wall in an unoccupied cell in the prison. In addition, three detonators were found."(29)

November 22:
"Tools disappeared during renovations in Stammheim. In May and June of this year, packages of cement were lying about in the common hall during the construction work being done on the cells. The Baader-Meinhof prisoners had contact with the construction workers and also inquired as to how to mix cement. One day, tools (pliers, a screwdriver, and possibly a crowbar) disappeared for a short time and re-appeared in an easily visible corner after a prison guard explained to the prisoners that all cells would be turned upside down if the tools didn't turn up again."(30)

November 23:
"Pistol found in Stammheim — weapon and ammunition discovered in cell wall. In this cell which was not recently occupied, Helmut Pohl had done time from July 6 to August 12."31 (This was a Colt 38 calibre — a weapon used by the police!)(32)

November 24:
"A razor blade hung in Croissant's cell. Several razor blades have unexplainably found their way into the closely watched cell of Croissant the ex-Baader-Meinhof lawyer, now imprisoned in Stammheim … on Saturday, Croissant had discovered a razor blade hanging on a nail in a cupboard in his cell and he immediately informed the prison guards of his find. A speaker for the court said, 'Croissant's cell had previously been searched by the best security specialists, searched again and another three razor blades were found in the drainage pipe from the toilet."(33)

December 6:
"Again a discovery in a cell at Stammheim. A small loudspeaker without an electrical connection was found hidden in a neon light on Monday in the section of imprisoned terrorists at the Stuttgart-Stammheim prison. According to the Ministry of Justice in Stammheim, the loudspeaker might have been used to send and receive morse code."(34)

On September 14,1977, a Minox Camera was surprisingly discovered sudden in a pack of coffee filters in Andreas Baader's cell after he was moved to a new cell. This discovery was so often mentioned after the deaths at Stammheim that one could almost think that this "discovery" was part of a well-planned "suicide."

These discoveries seem to be rather astonishing for a construction worker who worked on building the prison at Stammheim: "As the discoveries at Stammheim became known through the mass media, I couldn't help thinking that I had been there as a concrete layer the whole time during the building of the prison from the foundations to the roof. What is said in the mass media, hiding places in the walls (slits and holes behind the beams) is simply a lie. The walls of the cells are built out of massive B 600 class concrete! That means: 600 kilograms of cement to one cubic metre of sand. The concrete is crystal hard. I doubt very much that one could put a hole in this concrete with cutlery or something similar. The only possibility would be to use explosives or a press hammer. That, my colleagues, must be considered, when one speaks about the suicides of the Baader-Meinhof people."(35)

At any rate, the press is trying hard to convince the public that the weapons for the "suicide" were smuggled into the cells, even if they cannot explain how. "If camera and radio could find admittance, the prisoners must have known how to procure the tools for their suicides. This knowledge must make it very difficult for the lawyers to continue to follow the theory as though one should doubt that suicide was the case. It is to be said, however, that the lawyers' agitation is not particularly extensive. They know very well, that they've got nothing to support their theory."(36) But perhaps the lawyers are somewhat reluctant to reduce their scepticism towards the suicide theory on the grounds of these discoveries in various prison cells. After all, no lawyer or any other "objective" person for that matter, was present at any of the searches that led to these spectacular finds.

Shot in the back of the head

"Andreas Baader died from a shot in the neck 3 centimetres above the hairline which exited through the forehead, so that one can speak of a straight trajectory, that runs slanted from the base of the neck up."(37) Is it possible that Andreas Baader could have shot himself in the back of his own head with a 7.65 calibre pistol — one with a strong recoil — in such a way that the trajectory could run from the base of the neck through the head and out at the forehead in a straight path?

Why three shots?

Three shots were found in Andreas Baader's cell. One shot was lodged in the all, another in the mattress and another, which had gone through Baader's head, was lying on the floor.(38) Why three shots? It was first suggested that Baader wanted to signal to the others. But during the night from Monday to Tuesday, the guards, who were posted about 15 metres from cells, didn't notice anything particular. This shouldn't come as a surprise, since the cells were equipped with sound-proofing."(39) But if the guards didn't hear anything how could the prisoners have heard "signal"? So why three shots?

Gunpowder traces on Baader's right hand

As a rule, traces of gunpowder remain on the hand presses the trigger of a pistol. These traces can be chemically identified. Cited from the parts of the autopsy report which have been published in Spiegel: "Traces of gunpowder were to be found on the right hand of Baader's corpse as well as on the entrance wound of the shot.(40) Baader's mother, however swears that her son was left-handed! Of course, a left-handed Baader could have shot himself in the back of his own head with his right hand, or his right hand could have been guided onto the trigger of a firing pistol aimed at the back of his head.

No gunpowder traces on Raspe's right hand — not on his left hand either

"Raspe's corpse (which was discovered at 7.41 as he was to be served breakfast — what an odd time to be serving breakfast, especially if you consider how punctually German institutions usually function) … shows a trajectory from a shot entering at the back and going through the front brain area. The existing traces indicate a shot aimed at close range here as well."(41) Nowhere is there mention of gunpowder traces on Raspe's hands in the parts of the autopsy reports which have been released. On whose hands should the gunpowder traces be, if not on Raspe's?

Suicide attempt with a bread and butter knife

In an interview with Mr. Heldmann, Baader's lawyer, the following was reported about the weapon assumed to be the one which brought about the wounds to Irmgard Moller's body:

Question: "According to official reports, she is supposed to have stabbed herself in the area of the heart with a bread knife. What kind of knife was this?"

Heldmann: "This knife was lying in the cell, when I was allowed in for observation in the afternoon of October 18. It was a normal table knife, like those in canteens, in cafeterias, rounded off at the end with a little wavy cutting edge. One with which you butter bread."

Question: "So it would be practically impossible to stab oneself in the chest four times with such a knife?"

Heldmann: "A medical report will have to decide that"(42)

Question: "And how does Irmgard Moller account for her stab wounds and for the deaths of her three friends?"

Heldmann: "Irmgard Moller told her lawyer Mrs. Jutta Bahr-Jendges, the only person with whom she has been allowed to speak up until now, that she heard two explosive-like sounds in the early morning hours at around 4 am and 4.30 am and a scrapping sound, as if someone was pushing a cupboard."

Question: "Could that have been shots?"

Heldmann: "Miss Moller only brought these sounds in connection with the possibility of shots later, after she heard that Baader and Raspe had supposedly shot themselves."(43) But how could Irmgard Moller have heard sounds at all? Her cell was soundproof. Had the door to her cell been opened? If so, why was the door to her cell open?"

Question: "Shortly after that, according to press reports, she lost consciousness. Can you say, how this happened?"

Heldmann: "Irmgard Moller has said she felt how she became faint and this feeling was connected with a whirling feeling in her head. It can't be said at this time, what caused the unconsciousness."(44)

According to a press report on October 25,1977 from her lawyer, Irmgard Moller has assured her lawyer that she did not attempt suicide, that she did not stab herself four times in the chest.

Medicaments? What Medicaments?

Justice Minister Bender reported in a press conference on October 18 that "three of the prisoners were last seen at approx. 11 p.m. by prison personnel during distribution of medicaments."(45) (Gudrun Ensslin apparently didn't need any medicaments and consequently was last seen at approx. 4 p.m. Perhaps the answer as to the cause of Irmgard Moller's faintness, whirling head and loss of consciousness has been found!).

Wrong: "No traces of violence and also no traces of pharmaceuticals have been found that would have been traceable in the organs had the prisoners been anaesthetised."(46) Medicaments received but no traces found?

Perhaps the medicaments had already decomposed in the bodies of the recipients since the autopsy was carried out so late in the afternoon. Unavoidable or convenient? Perhaps it is possible that some newly developed drugs don't leave any traces in the body. "In Bonn, special groups in the Ministry of Interior Affairs, the Ministry of Justice and the Chancellor's Office are working on study cases. Totally new ideas, exciting inspirations, are being seriously considered: Israeli and English interrogation specialists are able to extract all the knowledge that a prisoner has through the use of psycho-pharmaceuticals. These psycho-pharmaceuticals do not cause personality changes."(47) Who can say what other "wonder drugs" have been developed and used?

And what about the time of death?

"The determination of the time of death has been made much more difficult due to the fact that although he (Professor Hans-Joachim Mallach, Director of the Institute for Legal Medicine at the University of Tubingen) was picked up at 9 am in Tubingen with a helicopter, he and his colleagues couldn't begin the autopsy until 4 p.m., since they had to wait for the arrival of lawyers. … For that reason Mallach … didn't desire to make any statements concerning the time of death."(48) But in an interview Prof. Mallach explains that he hasn't received the orders to establish the time of death. The data necessary to determine the time of death has been recorded and has been sent to Stuttgart. From this data he would be able to establish the time of death to within 1-2 hours as soon as the orders are given.(49)

However, at a later date (December 6) Mallach maintained that it wasn't possible to establish the exact time of death. In this same report: "the earliest possible time of death for Miss Ensslin has been determined to be between 1.15 am and 1.25 am and for Baader between 0.15 am and 2.15 am. The difference in the time intervals is due to the different ways in which the bodies stiffened. The experts answered the question if it was possible that the deaths could have occurred at 6 a.m. with yes."(50)

More curiosities: a perfect communication system

According to press reports, the four prisoners at Stammheim "committed suicide" or "attempted to do so" directly after they heard that the hostages, which were to be used in exchange for their release, in the Lufthansa plane in Mogadishu had been freed in a manoeuvre by the German GSG-9 special police unit. This theory assumes that the prisoners must have had contact with the world outside their cells and with each other in order to have received the news of the manoeuvre in Mogadishu. The first efforts to explain this contact, despite the "Kontaktsperre" came in the form of: "radio information from neighbours"(51) signals by knocking on the wall(52) morse contact(53), shots fired by Baader (see above). All of these suggestions are rather absurd since the cells were soundproof and on either side of each occupied cell was at least one empty cell. It was then reported that a small transistor radio was found on Tuesday October 19, in Raspe's cell. Suddenly, it was discovered that lots of "suspected terrorists had transistor radios"(54) in prisons all over West Germany. In fact, Raspe, who had studied electronics while in prison, had "obviously been able to build a perfect communication system for his group in a short time, right under the eyes of his guards. After the radio wires to the special tract which were under the plaster, were disconnected from the rest of the network in the prison, Raspe built a radio network for the comrades out of the remains."(55)

Six weeks later, the criminal police had figured out the details as to how this network functioned and the following story was pieced together:

"On the day of the Schleyer kidnapping, on September 6 1977, the prison electrician, Franz Halouska …, entered Irmgard Moller's cell. In carrying out his orders, he disconnected an electric outlet next to the door from the rest of the network — a special outlet, since the wires led from this outlet to the outlets in Gudrun Ensslin's cell and in Andreas Baader's cell, from which every prisoner can hear programmes from the prison's radio network with earphones, mostly from 5.30 am to 11.30 p.m. and on Wednesdays, a special concert until midnight.

"After Halouska's visit, Irmgard Moller reconnected this outlet, and so she and also Gudrun Ensslin and Andreas Baader, were able to hear the prison's own radio network (even after the "Kontaktsperre") and thus could hear the current news about the Schleyer kidnapping. Irmgard Moller had her earphones for this purpose hidden in a hole under the wash basin. (Where are the earphones that Gudrun Ensslin and Andreas Baader used? Perhaps they had such good hearing that they just had to put their ears to the outlet in order to hear the radio?).

"After the suicides in Stammheim, an expert from the post office in Stuttgart discovered: the prisoners Ensslin, Baader and Moller had used the radio network wires after programme hours and could speak to one another over the amplifier in their record players through the microphone which Raspe probably had built. (But their record players were removed on September 5!) As a source of power, they had used electricity either from the electric outlet or from 6 volt batteries, which every prisoner was allowed to buy in unlimited numbers for transistor radios and tape recorders…

"Since Raspe's cell No. 716 was separated from the radio circuit by a staircase, he couldn't take part in the conversations between Baader, Ensslin and Moller. Raspe communicated with Baader over the wire for electric razors, through which electricity ran only twice a day for one hour and in between functioned as a good signal carrier.

"Besides that, Raspe was well prepared: he has a "Sanyo" transistor radio, the size of the palm of the hand, that made him independent of the prison radio network."(56)

A stretch of the imagination, certainly. But how big a stretch? Too big?

Three mysterious letters

On Monday October 17, Gudrun Ensslin requested to speak with two clergymen. The purpose of her request was expressed in a letter, which the clergymen later wrote to Gudrun Ensslin's parents: "The request from your daughter for us was that in her cell were three letters that were meant for the head of the Chancellor's office. These letters are in a file entitled "Lawyer." She asked us to make certain that these letters reach their destination."57 The Head of the Chancellor's Office, however, denies ever seeing the three letters from Gudrun Ensslin. "These letters don't exist" said Bolling, speaker for the government.(58)

Little grains of sand

Lawyer Heldmann, who was present at the autopsy of Baader's corpse, reports:

Heldmann: "There is one fact with Baader which has remained fully unclarified up until now. Baader had hard shoes on, practically new shoes, which he never wore, (Baader was well-known for his tennis shoes). On the soles was a thick layer of light, fine-grained sand. There weren't just single grains, more whole patches with sand clinging to them."

Question: "Did you see this yourself?"

Heldmann: "I saw that myself. This seemed especially striking for the pathologists from Vienna and Zurich, who were observing the autopsy, and the one from Vienna asked an officer while I was there, 'Where does the sand come from on his shoes?' The officer refused to answer."

Question: "How do you explain this?"

Heldmann: "This sand can't have come from the courtyard in Stammheim, where Baader wasn't allowed anyway, nor from the covered roof where the prisoners had their exercise period, since this is covered with cement. One should investigate the question that was brought up in the Greek newspaper "Elefterotipia" on October 21, which refers to Arabic sources: was Baader possibly brought to Mogadishu, in order to make the airplane hijackers think that an exchange was to take place."(59)

Strangely enough, there has been no mention of these little grains of sand in reports of the autopsy which have appeared in the daily newspapers. Perhaps they forgot to include that part, whether it be accidentally or on purpose.

Murder or suicide?

In the press reports of the autopsy results, it is stated that "no evidence has been found that contradicts suicide."(60) But a lack of evidence contracting suicide — even if this evidence were in fact lacking — doesn't automatically mean that it was suicide. Murder or suicide? A difficult question. But in searching for the answer to this question, one must not overlook important repressive governmental measures that have appeared with the Schleyer kidnapping and the deaths at Stammheim.

A new form of terror — against the prisoners

Not only have Gudrun Ensslin's, Andreas Baader's and Jan Carl Raspe's deaths been presented in the mass media as suicides without a shadow of a doubt, their "suicides" have been portrayed as being a new form of terror in guerrilla tactics. "One can push insidiousness so far, that one can make one's own death look like murder"(61) said Maihofer, the Federal Minister for Internal Affairs. The explanation for the "insidiousness", as expressed by Heinz Kuhn, Minister President for the State of Nordrhein-Westfalen is: "Baader, Ensslin and Raspe didn't resort to death as a means of escape from consequences and from hopelessness; they organised their own suicide with diabolical speculation in order to escalate the terror on to a new and even bigger level."(62) And this was no isolated opinion. "The members of terrorist organisations have made use of the method of self-destruction in intensifying their fanatical and murderous fight against our state and its order"(63) stated Bolling, the official government speaker.

This theory — "suicide" as a new guerrilla tactic — is being used to justify new "precautions" being introduced in the prisons. "Klaus Croissant, ex-Baader-Meinhof lawyer, now imprisoned in Stuttgart-Stammheim after being deported from France, is under surveillance around the clock, due to danger of suicide."(64) And this applies to many prisoners who are in danger of "committing suicide." Constant surveillance. A new form of terror — terror for the prisoner.

And now the isolation for the prisoner is to be made even more complete. The prisoner is to be separated from his lawyer during visits by "a pane of Plexiglas and a system consisting of four layers of wire netting. The wire netting is to make the acoustical understanding between lawyer and client possible."(65)

One of the very few human contacts which the prisoner has is to be dehumanised. And that in the name of security — to prevent the lawyers from smuggling objects in to the prisoners.

In addition, the lawyers' dossiers are to be handed over to an officer before the visit who will look through them to see if "objects are between the pages."(66) A practice which began after Schleyer was kidnapped as an emergency measure is to become the rule. Of course, the officer is not allowed to examine the written content of the dossiers. Naturally.

Freedom of thought — but not expression

"Every person has claim to freedom of thought …" Article 9 of the European Convention of Human Rights. But in West Germany, it is no longer possible to express these thoughts. The following two incidents connected with the deaths at Stammheim verify this.

Funeral services
On Thursday, October 27, Gudrun Ensslin, Jan Carl Raspe and Andreas Baader were buried at the Dornhalder Cemetery in Stuttgart. Over 1,000 people came to take part in the funeral services. "Some of the guests appeared disguised and had pulled scarves, big kerchiefs and hats over their faces."(67) Disguised? This wasn't a masquerade party but a funeral! Why disguised? "All those who took part in the funeral services, had to undergo exact identity and automobile controls. Approximately 1,000 policemen were on duty for this manoeuvre."(68) A ratio of 1 policeman for each guest! "A total of 1,200, mostly young guests at the funeral passed the control stations near the cemetery. Most of them were controlled over the radio with the help of the police data bank. The police identified the names of 1,200 guests. 630 automobiles with German number plates and 20 with foreign number plates were also registered. According to the police, through these controls, against which 200 to 300 had unsuccessfully resisted, 'valuable information' had been won."(69) Cameras were everywhere, including a video camera, which the police used to photograph all the guests as they left the cemetery.(70) No, not a masquerade party but a funeral in West Germany where it is necessary to come disguised — if you dare to come at all.

As the long parade of people were leaving the cemetery, a police ear drove into the back of the parade injuring some of the guests. As others tried to defend themselves, policemen rode into the crowd with horses and began beating with their clubs. Twenty people were arrested and taken in police wagons to the police station. A spontaneous demonstration was formed to march to the police station. The police constantly attempted to provoke the marchers with comments like, "Do something, we're waiting for you." Suddenly, a bus full of armed policemen appeared and began beating the marchers with their metre-long clubs. Another 40-45 people were arrested.(71)

It is no longer possible to attend a funeral for three dead prisoners in West Germany; it is no longer possible to express sentiment for three dead prisoners in West Germany. In the eyes of the authorities, those who do so are automatically sympathisers and consequently identify with the guerrilla. Sympathisers are considered criminals, and are treated as such.

Prohibition of expression continues. Just as this brochure was to be printed, the following news item appeared in Welt am Sonntag, December 11, 1977: "The police in Bremen confiscated 800 leaflets yesterday, in which doubts about the suicides of the terrorists Andreas Baader, Jan Carl Raspe, Gudrun Ensslin and Ingrid Schubert were expressed." (Ingrid Schubert was found dead in her cell on November 12,1977, one day after explosives had apparently been discovered in a cell in Stammheim which she had previously occupied. Another so-called 'suicide.')

Pastor Ensslin
"The public prosecutors office in Stuttgart has begun prosecution against the retired pastor, Helmut Ensslin, father of Gudrun Ensslin, on the grounds of 'defaming the state' and 'injurious slander.' This was stated on Tuesday by a representative from the prosecutor's office in Stuttgart. Ensslin is supposed to have reported to an Italian newspaper, Lotta Continua, that he is of the opinion that his daughter didn't commit suicide but that she was murdered. The Church administration in Stuttgart has also begun prosecution against Pastor Ensslin and has demanded that he refrain from uttering such insinuations and suppositions."(72)

Here is what Pastor Ensslin told the Italian newspaper:

"Gudrun had always shocked us, for many years. Through every step which she took. But she had never broken off the contact with us, even when we were of totally different opinions about some problems. I myself was once very naive. But now I believe that I must fight: I am convinced that she was murdered. She was always afraid that she would be murdered, even in the case of being liberated and going out of the country.

After the death of Ulrike (Meinhof), she told me that it might end that way. And, for her, a suicide was absolutely out of the question. Gudrun had never lied, just as the others from the RAF have never lied; they always took responsibility for their deeds. The others who are making short work of her, they tell lies, big ones, in fact. That's why I think, that the three letters which Gudrun told the prison pastors about on Monday and whose existence is now questioned, really do exist.

I think the government really doesn't know anything and we will probably never learn the truth. At the present moment, it is impossible to remember what Irmgard Moller says, and she is also no liar. Perhaps the killer had done a bad job on her. But they all say nothing about that. And they advise us to give up and to keep silent. Everything is so perfect, that it really reminds me of National Socialism in some parts. Many don't know anything about it. Others don't want to hear about it; they don't want to be disturbed in their comfort, they have their Bild newspaper; the sport of hunting the special offers in the department stores, their holidays and the lottery. Springer (publisher of the Bild newspaper) has actually won, after ten years. And the fronts have hardened on both sides.

Many parents of RAF members are as isolated today as their children, but only a few — mostly high public figures — have totally disowned their children. I receive letters and telephone calls from people who want to show their solidarity with me and that, not only out of pity. But an acquaintance of ours, who worked at a tailors, lost her job, after she contradicted the suicide version on Tuesday as the others mentioned the deaths of Baader and the others. Within a few days the atmosphere in the shop became unbearable and then she was fired.

In this difficult situation, which we are presently in, the parents and relatives of the RAF members are trying to support one another. Many of us will go to the funeral tomorrow. She (Gudrun) didn't think I meant bad, but she thought I was unaware. We often wrote to each other. After ten years, I have begun to study, to team again. If one really wants to find out the cause of terrorism, as the government claims, then one has to go back a long way in the history of Germany. I have tried to grasp this, to open my eyes to this fact and I think I have been at least partly successful'."(73)

Need more be said?


In the reports about the events at Stammheim so many contradictions have come to the surface that, aside from the suicide theory widely spread and supported by the mass media, the possibility of murder could be considered. We will likely never be able to solve the mysteries that occurred in the night of October 17th and the morning of October 18th, nor will we be able to say with certainty what happened during the six weeks before this night while the prisoners were, due to the "Kontaksperre," alone at the mercy of the state, but we can speculate about the following questions, should it have been murder and not suicide:

1. What could have been the political motivation for such a murder?
2. Why should this time have been chosen?
3. Who could have been responsible for and who could have carried out the murders?


Since illegal, armed groups in West Germany have come into existence, one of their main activities has been the liberation of their imprisoned members. The first political action of the RAF was the liberation of Baader in 1970. Then came the kidnapping of Berlin's Christian Democratic Party leader, Peter Lorenz in 1975 with the resulting release of five political prisoners, the occupation of the German embassy in Stockholm in 1975; the hijacking of an Air France plane from a German-Palestinian commando in 1976, the escape of four women prisoners from "Bewegung 2 Juni" in 1976, the kidnapping of Schleyer in 1977. The shooting of Drenkman, a judge in West Berlin in 1974, one day after Holger Meins died and that of the baker Ponto in the summer of 1977 were likely unsuccessful kidnappings planned in order to free political prisoners. In spite of the increasing numbers of imprisoned members of these groups (at present, approximately 120), liberation attempts, aimed at the highest figures in parliamentary politics and business, are still being made.

During the last hunger strikes in the Stammheim and other prisons which the political prisoners carried out in their struggle for better conditions of imprisonment in the summer of 1977, such a climate was produced in the mass media that 71% of the population asked in a questionnaire supported the government's hard-line policy of not giving in to the demands of the prisoners and preferred to let the prisoners starve to death. The Federal Solicitor General Kurt Rebmann, said "I know that the population is not at all interested if these people go on hunger and thirst strikes. The population wants these people to be hit hard just as hard as they have earned with their brutal deeds." And in answer to the question 'And what if a prisoner dies?' Rebmann said "that is always a bad thing, but it would be the consequence which has been made clear to them and their lawyers and which is clear to them. The conditions of imprisonment don't justify such a strike; they are doing very well considering the circumstances."(74)

Shortly before Schleyer's kidnapping, the CDU/CSU wanted to bring in a proposal to legally regulate this matter, a law to prohibit force feeding of prisoners on a hunger strike. This would turn the only instrument that the prisoners have to fight against their isolation imprisonment into extermination as the "final solution" to the problem.

If there are no more political prisoners there can be no more attempts at liberating them. This was clearly expressed by the well-known and influential German historian, Golo Mann, in a news programme on television the evening before the deaths at Stammheim were discovered: "The moment can come in which one must turn those terrorists sentenced on grounds of murder, which one has in his control into hostages by depriving them of the laws of peace time and placing them under martial law." (October 17, 1977, in "Panorama.")

Why now?

The deaths of the prisoners at Stammheim badly damaged the image of West Germany. Thus, it seems illogical that murder with these negative political consequences just when West Germany could be bathing in the glory of the greatest political, military and propaganda triumph over "terrorism" the triumph of Mogadishu. But it must not be forgotten, that if prisoners are to be murdered, it must be made to look like suicide or an accident. An accident with these prisoners would have been totally unbelievable, especially under the conditions in the Stammheim prison. If a "suicide" is to solve the problem, then there has to be a plausible motive. A motive in this case exists, of course — the failure of the liberation attempt. However, one must not forget that these prisoners never before attempted to commit suicide in spite of several such liberation attempts in the past five years.

Not only must there be a motive for "suicide," the "suicide" must cause as little political reaction as possible — both at home and abroad. What better time could have been picked for such "suicides" than one where West Germany was glorified all over the world for the "Blitz" action in Mogadishu? What could have served better to overshadow these "suicides" at Stammheim?

The reaction at home was minimal not only due to the "triumph" of Mogadishu, but also to the months of constant propaganda in the mass media against "terrorism". In fact the deaths at Stammheim have led to more, rather than less, support of governmental policies. The reaction abroad was somewhat negative, at least in some countries, but this would have been the case no matter what time had been chosen.

And further, if the prisoners had actually been taken to Mogadishu in order to trick the hijackers, then it would have been necessary to kill them.


While the speculations as to the political background for such a possible murder remain rather abstract, the question as to "who" and "how" can be discussed more explicitly.

It is known through the recent exposures about the CIA (and this certainly applies to other secret service agencies in the western world as well) that murder is a regular part of the work of this agency. The head of the CIA department, Special Operations, Bissell, explained in his hearing to the Church Commission, that actions involving murder and the establishing of a "murder potential" is nothing unusual. "Bissell explained, that the potential of the 'executive action' 'without a doubt' or 'most likely' was a decision made by the agency itself, in the first hearing he had already stated, that it was nothing unusual. It was a usual practice in the agency and an important part of its mission was to establish different sorts of potential before it was known if they could be used at all and if so, to what end and how. 'The daily work … of a secret service agency, which enlists agents, is so'."(75)

However, even inside the CIA, one must "never mention" the word "murder".'(76) Many reports about the work of the CIA such as those in Philip Agee's book, Inside the Company, CIA Diary show that the actions of the CIA and of other secret service agencies too, concerning murders are made to look like accidents, suicides, fights between rival organisations etc.

The targets for such murders by the CIA are not always important government figures such as Diem, Trujille, Castro or Lumumba. They are often leaders of revolutionary groups or guerrilla movements in countries all over the world.

This was the case with Che Guevara:

"More agency 'advisors' including Cuban veterans of the Bay of Pigs adventure, were soon dispatched to Bolivia to assist in the tracking down of Guevara. A team of experts from the Army's Special Forces was sent to La Paz from the Canal Zone to train Bolivian 'rangers' in the art of counter-insurgency operations.

"The Clandestine Services were obsessed with Guevara, and even somewhat fearful of him. He was in part a constant and irritating reminder of their failure in the Cuban operation. Unable to vent their frustrations and anger against those U.S. officials who had undercut that desperate effort, and incapable of gaining direct retribution by destroying Fidel himself or his Soviet and Chinese allies, the CIA's Clandestine Services were left to brood over their failure — until Guevara exposed himself. In so doing he presented himself to the CIA as an inviting target; his capture or death would provide some measure of revenge for past failures.

"During the summer of 1967, while the agency's special operations experts were assisting the Bolivian army in hunting down Guevara … It was only a matter of time until Che would be run to ground."(77)

…And this was also the case with Carlos Marighella:

"In early October, 1969, the CIA learned through a secret agent that a group of radicals was about to hijack a plane in Brazil and escape to Cuba. The intelligence was forwarded to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia and from there sent on an 'eyes only' basis to Henry Kissinger at the White House and top officials of the State Department, the Defence Department and the National Security Agency. Within a few days, on October 8th, the same radical identified in the CIA report commandeered at gunpoint a Brazilian commercial airliner with 49 people aboard, and after a refueling stop in Guyana, forced the pilot to fly to Havana. Neither the CIA nor the other agencies of the U.S. Government which had advance warning of the radicals' plans moved to stop the crime from being committed, although at that time the official policy of the United States — as enunciated by the President — was to take all possible measures to stamp out aerial piracy.

"Afterwards, when officials of the State Department questioned their colleagues in the CIA on why preventive measures had not been taken to abort the hijacking, the agency's clandestine operators delayed more than a month before responding. During the interim, security forces in Brazil succeeded in breaking up that country's principal revolutionary group and killing its leader Carlos Marighella. Shortly after the revolutionary leader's death on November 4, the CIA informally passed word back to the State Department noting that if any action had been taken to stop the October skyjacking, the agency's penetration of the radical movement might have been exposed and Marighella's organisation could not have been destroyed.

While it was never quite clear whether the agent who alerted the clandestine operators to the hijacking had also fingered Marighella, that was the impression the CIA tried to convey to the State Department."(78)

These are just two of many such cases. But from these two examples, it is clear that the CIA works together with the secret service and the governments of other countries in order to destroy revolutionary movements. The CIA has stations in almost all countries "the German station was (and is) the CIA's largest in the world."(79)

Is not a co-operative effort between the CIA and the German government and/or the German secret services to destroy a part of the German revolutionary movement — namely the guerrilla — within the realm of the possible?

Co-operation between the German, British and Somalian governments and secret services in the manoeuvre in Mogadishu was officially stated. "Two members of the British Special Service, who were, among other things, engaged in fighting terror in Northern Ireland, were also active in freeing the hostages in Mogadishu."(80) Perhaps the co-operation went further than officially stated.

It would be just as difficult to prove that the CIA or any other secret service took part in the murders at Stammheim as it would be to prove that a murder took place at all at Stammheim. But if the deaths at Stammheim weren't suicides, then the involvement of the CIA is very likely since there is no doubt that the RAF actions were directed against U.S. imperialism, that the prisoners who died at Stammheim were responsible for the attacks on U.S. military buildings in 1972 and that service agencies in Germany controlled by, built up by and dependent on the CIA, would never have been able to carry out such an action without the knowledge of the CIA at least. The decision for such a specific action would not be made at a government level but in the secret service agency itself. It is clear, however, that such a decision, should it have been made could not have taken place without the general consent of the government, a consent which might have given long before, even if only in the form of passive consent.


1. Die Welt (October 19, 1977)
2. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (October 19, 1977)
3. Westfalische Rundschau (October 19, 1977)
4. Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (October,17)
5. W Schwerd. Rechtsmedizin fur Mediziner und Juristen (Deutscher Arzte Verlag, Koln-Lovenich,1975), p.70.
6. Otto Schily, in a speech on November 4, 1977, Bochum.
7. Jutta Bahr-Jendges, in a press conference with the lawyers: Otto Schily, Hans-Heinz Heldmann, Jutta Bahr-Jendges, Heinz Funke, P.H. Bakker-Shut, Axel Azzola on October 19, 1977 Bonn.
8. Frankfurter Rundschau (October 19, 1977).
9. Bild (October 19, 1977).
10. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (October 19, 1977).
11. Frankfurter Rundschau (October 17, 1977).
12. Frankfurter Rundschau (November 15, 1977).
13. Frankfurter Rundschau (October 26, 1977).
14. Frankfurter Rundschau (October 21, 1977).
15. Frankfurter Rundschau (October 25, 1977).
16. Der Spiegel Nr. 44 (October 24, 1977) pl7.
17. Frankfurter Rundschau (October 27, 1977).
18. Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (October 27, 1977).
19. Otto Schily, in a speech on November 4, 1977, Bochum.
20. Frankfurter Rundschau (March 18, 1977).
21. Frankfurter Rundschau (November 4, 1977).
22. Stern Magazin Nr. 50 (December 1, 1977), p.22.
23. Die Welt (October 19,1977).
24. Stern Magazin Nr. 50 (December 1,1977), p.22.
25. Westfalische Allgemeine Zeitung (October 20, 1977).
26. Westfalische Allgemeine Zeitung (October 2, 1977).
27. Westfalische Allgemeine Zeitung (October 27, 1977).
28. Westfalische Allgemeine Zeitung (October 27, l977).
29. Westfalische Allgemeine Zeitung (November 12, l977).
30. Westfalische Allgemeine Zeitung (November, 22, 1977).
31. Frankfurter Rundschau (November 23, 1977).
32. Stern Magazin Nr. 50 (December 1,1977) p.24.
33. Frankfurter Rundschau November 24, 1977).
35. Arbeiterkampf Jg 7 Nr. 118 (November 28, 1977) p.8.
36. Westfalische Allgemeine Zeitung (October 20, 1977).
37. Informations-Dienst Nr. 201 (October 29, 1977) p.4.
38. Spiegel Nr. 44 (October 24,1977) p.l6.
39. Frankfurter Rundschau (October 19, 1977).
40. Spiegel Nr. 44 (October 24,1977) p.l7.
41. Spiegel Nr. 44 (October 24,1977) p.l7.
42. Arbeiterkampf Jg. 7 Nr. 116 (October 31, l977) p.7.
43. Ibid., p.7.
44. Ibid., p.7 .
45. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (October 19, 1977).
46. Frankfurter Rundschau (November 4, 1977).
47. Stern Magazin Nr. 49 (November 24, 1977) p.l46.
48. Frankfurter Rundschau (November 4, 1977).
49. Informations-Dienst Nr. 202 (November 5, 1977) p.3.
50. Westfalische Allgemeine Zeitung (December 6, 1977).
51. Die Welt (October 19,1977).
52. Bild (October 20, 1977).
53. Stern Magazin Nr. 45 (October 27, 1977) p.37.
54. Frankfurter Rundschau (October 27, 1977).
55. Spiegel Nr. 44 (October 24,1977) p.17.
56. Stern Magazin Nr. 50 (December 1, 1977) p.261.
57. Frankfurter Rundschau (October21, 1977).
58. Frankfurter Rundschau (October 22 1977).
59. Arbeiterkampf Jg. 7 Nr. 116 (October 31, 1977) p.7.
60. Frankfurter Rundschau (November 4, 1977).
61. Frankfurter Rundschau (October 20, 1977).
62. Unser Land, Report der Landesregierung Nordrhein-Westfalen Nr. 2 (November 1977), p.l.
63. Frankfurter Rundschau (October 19, 1977).
64. Frankfurter Rundschau (November 21, 1977).
65. Frankfurter Rundschau (December 7, 1977).
66. Frankfurter Rundschau (December 7, 1977).
67. Frankfurter Rundschau (October 28, 1977).
68. Frankfurter Rundschau (October 28, 1977).
69. Frankfurter Rundschau (November 1, 1977).
70. Arbeiterkampf Jg. 7 Nr. 116 (October 31, 1977) p.7.
71. Arbeiterkampf Jg. 7 Nr. 116 (October 31, 1977), p.7.
72. Frankfurter Rundschau (November 10, 1977).
73. Informations-Dienst Nr. 202 (November 5, 1977) p.4-5.
74. Frankfurter Rundschau (August 15, 1977).
75. David Antonel, Alain Jaubert, Luden Kovalson, CIA Geheime Macht oder modernes Regierungsinstrument (Dusseldorf, 1976) p.318.
76. Ibid., p.316.
77. Victor Marchetti and John D. Marks, The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence (London, 1976) p.156.
78. Ibid., p.280-281.
79. Ibid., p.l20.
80. Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung (October 19, 1977).


At Fascist Hands
(In Memory of Andrew Baader)

At fascist hands not your own,
in those chill hours
before another dawn
broke your spirit more,
you faced death
grim with knowledge
grown futile
through harrowing years
of lost freedom
that none but mystics,
mad saints
and your martyred comrades
could ever know
what evil forebodings
your murder signifies.
If my heart
now swollen
with terrorist tears
could lay its sorrow
at yours and Ulrike's
hallowed graves,
truths undefiled
with papal hypocrisy
would hijack even heaven
holding God hostage
to release your soul
Let karma wait,
a world
of imprisoned minds
needs anarchy now.

Edward Woods

From: Cienfuegos Press Anarchist Review, No. 4 (1978).