December 31, 2007

The Red Army Faction and Popular German Memory

The government’s “drain the swamp” strategy was meant to deprive the underground of support. But in practice, it meant cracking down on the entire German left—searching squatted houses and co-ops, raiding private parties, questioning anyone in a train station with long hair or patched jeans, and detaining activists without charges. An increasingly paranoid left worried that the Sicherheitsstaat (security state) would stop at nothing to destroy it. West Germany’s independent-minded leftists, those who sided neither with the proponents of armed struggle (and their aggressive supporters) nor the state and society at large, were caught in the crossfire.

We here at Abu Muqawama know that it often seems as if we never write about insurgencies that take place outside the continent of Asia. Today, then, is a rare treat. Yesterday, Abu Muqawama read this essay from the Boston Review on the Red Army Faction and the urban guerrillas of the 1970s. Of particular interest was the effect violent revolutionaries had on the politics of the left and also the way in which the RAF and their legacy live on in popular memory. Anyway, this essay is uber-interesting, so have fun.