Sunday, 2 June 2013

Baader-Meinhof Ramblings

Baader-Meinhof Ramblings

(or all after watching Der Baader-Meinhof Komplex)

It was half past night when this writer had again watched a German movie all about a group notoriously known for their series of direct actions, all shooked then "West" Germany in the late 60s to mid 70s.

Known by news reports as the "Baader-Meinhof Gruppe", the Rote Armee Fraktion was a small but armed group of young and middle aged "fun, free, and rebellious" intellectuals whom supported National Liberation movements by means of armed struggle. Ranging from sabotage, assassination, and armed robberies throughout Germany "10 minutes", justified as "expropriations" as they took money every bank deemed as supporters of "US imperialism."

Johanna Wokalek (as Gudrun Ensselin)
talking to Vinzenz Kiefer (As Peter-Jürgen Boock) 
Quite Bohemian in regards to their lifestyle as depicted in the movie, especially in a scene where Gudrun Ensslin and Andreas Baader, being "Anti-norm" per se, caters their abode to those whom escaped from the juvenile prisons called "Youth Centres" like Peter-Jürgen Boock. There Gudrun Ensselin (by Johanna Wokalek) had compelled Peter to take a bath alongside her's for "wasting water is prohibited". Quite strange though in modern-day standards to see a scene featuring a man had dip into the bathtub alongside a girl whom happens to be one of the leaders of the impending "revolution". People may deemed as "sexually depicted" on that scene but only to end up merely sort of a chitchat and bathtub sharing.

Police chose to side with the Iranian goons as to stop the protest
It even featured the protests against the Kiesinger-led CDU government, being a US ally and supporter of various dictatorships had brought into the attention as depicted by the action taken in 1967, when the Shah of Iran, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, had visited West Berlin to attend a performance at the Deutsche Opera. Angered at the Shah's repressive policies in governing Iran, a number of young Germans show up to protest his appearance. The German police, supported by Iranian goons had attacked the protesters and one of them, Benno Ohnesorg, been shot and killed without provocation by Karl-Heinz Kurras.

The death of Ohnesorg somehow triggered criticism against the government as Ulrike Meinhof herself, being Left-wing in her views, used her skill as a Journalist with her articles especially critical of the Pahlavi and the US regime contrary to Axel Springer's Bild with its offices being ransacked by some for the climate that contributed to the assassination attempt on activist Rudi Dutschke by Joseph Bachmann in 1968 with popular catchphrase in left-wing circles sympathetic to student radicalism was "Bild hat mitgeschossen!" ("Bild shot at him too!") and "Springer, Morderer!" (Springer, Murderer!).

Dresden! Hiroshima! Vietnam!
(invoking anger towards a conservative-leaning paper)
Well, the events made the possibility of taking the gun as accepted and bank robberies as justified during those times- liberation was their call despite its inclinations different from the typical revolutionaries of those time, taking action seriously through the deed than to invoke people the call for revolution by organizing and mobilization. Other than the bohemian lifestyle taken as to counter the "standards" of "modern-day" living.

Scene depicting protest during the visit of Reza Shah Pahlavi at Berlin
Anyways, the so-called "fun, free, rebellious" attitude, being a reaction from the prevailing social order,  had  happened not just in Germany but in the entire Europe during the Cold War. As the Kiesinger-CDU government had been criticized by the left because of its policies, resulting to various means of protests led by the youth, were only to be replaced by Willy Brandt's ministership alongside the center-left SPD with promises of "Democracy" and reversal of policies made by the Conservative-leaning Kiesinger.
However, despite lessening tensions, it had rose those who constantly against the system itself-such as the RAF and others like the SPK Sozialistisches Patientenkollektiv (Socialist Patient's Collective), RZ Revolutionäre Zellen (Revolutionary Cells), and the Anarchist-leaning Bewegung 2. Juni (Movement 2 June).

Obviously, RAF had been leading as it was been depicted as bank robbers, kidnappers and even hijackers as what Ensslin said:

"They'll kill us all. You know what kind of pigs we're up against. This is the Auschwitz generation. You can't argue with people who made Auschwitz. They have weapons and we haven't. We must arm ourselves!"

As to set a bomb in a Department Store as a direct protest against rampant Consumerism.

Partisan warfare depicted
Anyways, it's all but entertaining and informative in general as the scenes reflected revolutionary fervor of the 60s and 70s. When National Liberation movements in Palestine, Indochina and the Philippines provided inspiration for both American and European radicals in resisting their respective systems to the extent of taking up the oil bomb and the gun. Bohemian lifestyles, beaches for Nudists, anti-consumerism, supporting Ho Chi Minh and solidarity with Palestine brought these altogether in a movie that invokes not just Tarantinoesque action but a depiction on how made these events happen.

As according to movie critics made last 2008 and 2009:

"When the film opened in Germany last year, some younger viewers came out of theaters crestfallen that the Red Army Faction members, still mythologized, were such dead-enders. Some who were older complained that the film had made the gang look too attractive. But they were dead-enders, and they were attractive. A film about them, or any other popular terrorist movement, has to account for both facts if it seeks to explain not just their crimes but also their existence."
— Fred Kaplan, The New York Times.

“Aust’s film has been criticized in Germany and Israel for making terrorist thuggery too glamorous. But in order to capture Baader-Meinhof accurately, the film needs to convey its appeal at the time. From mental patients to left-wing ideologues, from rebellious teens to sexually frustrated professionals, the gang’s members captivated many Germans with derring-do and self-conscious theatricality.”
— Fred Seigel

Bombing of a police station being shown
Well, admittingly speaking, it's quite too late to write a review-commentary despite watching that movie 4 years ago and revisited last Friday. As this writer, being an Activist would say that Germany, like any other countries in Europe, even Franco's Spain had enough radicals carrying various means of action. Of course, most had chose rallies and strikes, making writeups and various critiques, but people like Gudrun Ensslin, Andreas Baader chose a different one as to invoke the angst of the people. Ulrike Meinhof had somehow sympathized with the protest movement and their actions, whose succeeding events had took armed struggle against the system and the United States, as according to Meinhof:

“If you throw one stone, it’s a punishable offence. If 1,000 stones are thrown, it’s political action. If you set a car on fire, it’s a punishable offence. If hundreds of cars are set on fire, it’s political action. Protest is when I say I don’t agree with something. Resistance is when I ensure that things with which I disagree no longer take place.”

Well, for Meinhof as a Journalist would say that she sought the idea what people urges them to revolt because of a system that values "unity" and "freedom" had to support an aggressor against a country that struggles with the same idea Germany had. She may had value at first the use of the pen over the gun in invoking struggles, and yet as time goes by, in acknowledging the means itself had to "support the pen with the gun" as one of the familiar faces of the group itself, hence "Baader-Meinhof" aside from "Rote Armee Fraktion".

For sure nowadays it would be deemed as "strange", "subversive", "terroristic" to act according to their own perspective especially being a Journalist,  especially on how people had chose to take arms and risk their lives for the sake of their aspirations. That, in the name of "Objectivity" one ought not to be biased to the ideas one or another; yet the actions taken by Salvador Lopez and Marjohara Tucay, being writers had chose to break the norm as they themselves, human have the right to criticize in response to the truths been unveiled- to think that Tucay, then a writer at the Philippine Collegian (newspaper of the University of the Philippines) had disrupted a forum attended by Mrs. Hillary Clinton years ago because of the actions taken by the United States in the Middle East and the Philippines as Renato Reyes said:

"I do believe Marjohara Tucay’s intent was not simply to disrupt Clinton’s speech or disrespect the forum organizers (though that may have certainly been the effect). The protester had a message he wanted to convey and the occasion proved to be the best time to air it. And the message was a valid one. It was about US and Philippine relations, the Mutual Defense Treaty and the Visiting Forces Agreement."

Well, Tucay's actions are different those of Meinhof's despite somewhat sharing views in regards to anti-imperialism as well as their profession as writers. Tucay did took the use of direct action in the form of raising the streamer and chanting anti-US slogans while Meinhof had chose to take the pen as a writer and commentator venting her views prior to becoming one of RAF's known personality. 
Sadly, like Rudi Dutschke and the entire protest movement, they had been demonized by papers and certain media personalities just because of their beliefs in a way what Axel Springer did. Not wondering why people on the other side had took time demonizing and equating the unarmed to the armed just because of their beliefs like "class struggle" and "revolution."

Anyways, if tensions continue to persist, expect a new wave of Meinhofs, Ensselins, Baaders and others, intellectuals per se willing to take the risk as to sacrifice fame in the name of protest.

And it's not their fault why there's a bomb being exploded or a notorious official being killed, just because of the events that made it do so. 

For Miah Llanes and Jeanne Diwata (she looks like Gudrun Ensslin and Joanna Wokalek)