Baader Meinhof Film Splits Germany

Bader460x276 Kate Connolly in the Guardian:

The bloody legacy of the Baader Meinhof Gang which caused mayhem across West Germany with its politically-motivated assassinations, bombings and kidnappings is to be portrayed on cinema screens this week in a new film which claims to debunk the myth of 1970s terrorist chic.

Just how raw the darkest chapter in Germany’s postwar history remains has been demonstrated by the angry reaction that the Baader Meinhof Komplex has prompted from victims’ families, the children of gang members and historians.

Some have accused the film – which boasts a cast of top German actors – of being too violent, or of reinforcing the image of gang members as Bonnie and Clyde-style heroes.

Bettina Roehl, the journalist daughter of the gang’s co-leader, Ulrike Meinhof, wrote in a blog: “The Baader Meinhof Komplex is the worst-case scenario – it would not be possible to top its hero worship.”

The Berliner Zeitung critic said the film had given Andreas Baader, the other gang leader and son of a history professor, the stuntman status he had always craved. “Finally [he] has got what he always wanted. Posthumously he has become the hero of a real action film,” the critic said.

It was Baader’s escape from prison for the fire bombing of two Frankfurt department stores that marked the birth of the Baader Meinhof Gang, otherwise known as the Red Army Faction (RAF). Its members’ campaigning zeal was triggered by their anger at their parents’ perceived failure to confront Germany’s Nazi past.

The Porsche-driving Baader modelled himself on the Hollywood actor Marlon Brando, and he and Meinhof, a successful journalist, epitomised the glamour that gave the gang its appeal – a status it enjoys in popular culture even today.