OTTAWA, Feb. 10 (UPI) — Red Army Faction/Baader-Meinhof terrorists Brigitte Mohnhaupt and Christian Klar have spent 24 years behind bars. They seek to be released. Doing so would be an outrage.
They are unrepentant members of the RAF — murderers of the innocent who still have blood on their hands. It has been nearly 30 years since the RAF terror wave of the 1970s. German society was put under severe duress during this period. Many do not, or choose not, to remember. I do, I was there.
As the son of a ranking U.S. civilian in Germany, we were targets. U.S. forces housing areas had special round-the-clock guards. School bus routes were changed regularly. On the weekends and during school activities, because of threatened kidnappings, the sons and daughters of U.S. and Canadian forces had to be guarded by military police. The Heidelberg American High School had to be cleared regularly because of terror bomb threats.
U.S. targets included U.S. Army European commander Gen. Frederick J. Kroesen and NATO Gen. Alexander Haig, both of whom barely escaped. I was in Heidelberg in September 1981 the day Kroesen was attacked. The city was hermetically sealed off. I had come back for a week to visit my family and former high school. We sons and daughters were put into protective custody. Nervousness filled the air.
While Kroesen and Haig survived, others died or were seriously injured, including Kroesen’s wife who was left permanently scarred.
In 1972, V Corps headquarters in Frankfurt was bombed, killing one officer with 13 injured. Several bombings took place in Heidelberg at the U.S. Army Headquarters at Campbell Barracks. Three soldiers died with five wounded. Fourteen people were hurt when Rhein-Main Air base was bombed in August 1981. Four years later it was bombed again, killing two. The night before, an army specialist was killed for his military I.D. card. Numerous bombings of U.S. installations took place over a decade, with U.S. servicemen targeted repeatedly during the 1970s and 1980s. In total, 34 people, Germans and Americans, were murdered. And I knew some of them.
Only in 1998, did the RAF officially declare an end to hostilities.
Mohnhaupt was one of the principal leaders of the RAF from 1977-1982. During that period, she was the brainchild behind the kidnapping and murder of Hanns-Martin Schleyer, president of Federal Association of the German Industry, BDI. She also participated in the murders of Germany’s chief federal prosecutor, Siegfried Buback, and the chairman of Dresdner Bank, Jurgen Ponto — whom she shot five times. Drivers, police and security guards — fathers, brothers and sons — were also culled during these senseless attacks. In 1985, Mohnhaupt was given five life sentences. On Monday a German court ordered she be paroled.
Christian Klar has never expressed one iota of remorse about his terror activities. He too was part of the Schleyer, Buback and Ponto murders. He pulled the trigger on Ponto, and is assumed to have killed Schleyer. He is seeking a pardon from German Federal President Horst Koehler. Deplorably, Koehler’s predecessors, Richard von Weizaecker, Roman Herzog and Johannes Rau, each pardoned RAF killers.
The September 1977 kidnapping of Hanns Martin Schleyer in Cologne began what is commonly called der Deutsche Herbst — the German autumn. The Red Army Faction spent six weeks in coordinated terror attacks. Murder, assassination and hijacking became the tools of the trade. A day after Schleyer’s kidnap, the RAF demanded the release of RAF terrorists held in German jails. Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, the great German statesman, refused.
In order to put further pressure on the German government, four PLO terrorists hijacked a Lufthansa jet — the Landshut — on Oct. 13, 1977, and forced it to land in Somalia. These hijackers demanded the release of the jailed RAF thugs and $15 million. They threatened to murder Schleyer and all 91 passengers if their demands were not met.
A la Entebbe, the German government sent in a special commando unit and freed the hostages on Oct. 18. Within hours, three main RAF leaders — Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin and Jan-Carl Raspe — committed suicide in the maximum security prison in Stuttgart-Stammheim, suicides which to this very day remain clouded in dubious circumstance. On Oct. 19, Schleyer’s lifeless body was found in the trunk of a car in France, near the German boarder.
Several German politicians, including former Interior Minister Gerhart Baum and former Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel, who was once head of german intelligence, have called for the release of Mohnhaupt and Klar. The former vice president of the German Federal Parliament, Antje Vollmer, has gone so far as to say, “Both have been in jail longer than any person who committed Nazi crimes.” Well folks, that comparison puts me at ease! One must speculate if Vollmer has completely lost her senses. In fact, one must wonder if they have all gone mad.
The Red Army Faction has never made a public apology for any of their crimes.
Neither Mohnhaupt nor Klar has ever said who the shooters were. They have never named their accomplices. In fact, until recently, Klar has still shown sympathy for the RAF movement — its goals, aims and methods. He has indicated he would act the same way again. Mohnhaupt’s pseudo-show of remorse in front of a parole board cannot be seen as anything but a ruse.
The victim’s families are beyond disgusted that these killers could be set free. They have called to keep Mohnhaupt and Klar in jail.
There is an old Latin saying: “Whom the gods destroy, they first make mad.”
The RAF, so Mohnhaupt and Klar, were raving fanatics for an absurd cause.
Keeping them in jail until their last days is too nice. But given German law — and the heinous crimes they committed — they should certainly remain locked up until their very last breath.
Letting them go free spits on the memory of their innocent victims.
(UPI Columnist Marc S. Ellenbogen is president of the Prague Society and chairman of the Berlin-based Global Panel Foundation. He is a member of the National Advisory Board of the U.S. Democratic Party, where he is a vice-chairman of the Democratic Expat Leadership Council.)