Der Baader Meinhof Komplex (The Baader Meinhof Complex) (2008)




Director:     Uli Edel.

Starring:     Martina Gedeck (Ulrike Meinhof),  Moritz Bleibtreu (Andreas Baader),  Johanna Wokalek (Gudrun Ensslin),  Nadja Uhl (Brigitte Mohnhaupt),  Stipe Erceg (Holger Meins),   Niels-Bruno Schmidt (Jan Carl Raspe),  Vinzenz Kiefer (Peter-Jrgen Boock),   Simon Licht (Horst Mahler),  Alexandra Maria Lara (Petra Schelm), Daniel Lommatzsch (Christian Klar),  Sebastian Blomberg (Rudi Dutschke),  Heino Ferch (Horst Herold Assistant),  Jan Josef Liefers (Peter Homann),  Eckhard Dilssner (Horst Bubeck),  Hannah Herzsprung (Susanne Albrecht).

 the story of the leftist terrorist Baader Meinhof Gang



Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire movie. 

West Berlin.  Ulrike Meinhof and her husband are down at the beach with their three little girls.  Everyone goes naked on this beach.  After the beach outing they have a little get-together in their back yard.  The Shah and Empress Farah have come to Germany for a visit.  They landed at Tempelhof Airport.  Shah Reza Pahlavi inspected the police honor guard.  At the get-together, a friend of the family, Stefan, shows the husband the paper fresh from the printer.  The husband stops the music and tells everyone that his star columnist wife has written an open letter to Her Majesty Farah Diba.  It will be published in "Konkret".  5,000 flyers of the open letter have been distributed at the universities.  The article is a criticism of the Shah's government in Persia (Iran).  She points out that the average Iranian farmer makes less than 100 marks a year.  Most Persian women lose every second child to hunger, poverty and disease.  She has many other criticisms too.  Ulrike is objecting to the article that Her Majesty wrote in the "Neue Revue". 

A group of Iranian men dressed in business suits arrive with posters to welcome the royal couple.   When the royal limousine arrives they shout their welcomes.  They become very irritated when they see protest placards and hear many in the crowd shouting:  "Murderers out of West Berlin."  The Iranians knock the signs off their sticks and start going after the protestors.  They bloody quite a few of the protestors.  A woman bleeds from a head wound and two of the protestors try to get a doctor for her.  The police, however, don't seem to care about her.  One of the men runs into the street yelling for a doctor, but is knocked down by a baton blow to the head from a policeman on horseback.  The next indignity is that a large group of police now attack the crowd and start hitting them over the head.  It's a police riot with the police going crazy beating everyone they can get their hands on.  A policeman in a business suit shoots one of the protestors in the back. 

Ulrike goes on television to defend the students.  She says the right-wing press has concluded that what happened was all the fault of the students.  What has really happened, she says, is that the police riot has shown that West Germany is a police state.  Freedom in the country only means the police are free to engage in excessive brutality.  Furthermore, everyone knows that Kurras shot Ohnesorg and Kurras will be acquitted. 

In a German home the elderly Ensslin parents are shocked by the statements of their daughter Gudrun and the mother shuts off the television.  The young adults in the family, their daughter Gudrun and her boyfriend, say that Ulrike is right.  They complain about American imperialism in Vietnam, Bolivia and elsewhere.  They criticize the USA for constantly supplying the weapons for Israel's wars of aggression.  Dad, a minister, says he has to go to church.  The young Gudrun really gets angry and irate in her speech.  She jumps off the couch and storms out of the room. 

Ulrike and her two girls get in their car and speed away.  Ulrike has just caught her husband red-handed having sex with a beautiful blonde woman.  The husband runs after them so he can talk to Ulrike, but she just keeps driving forward. 

Meanwhile, a group of radical students are making a bomb.  Andreas Baader arrives with more chemicals and tells the bomb makers to make the bomb more powerful.  And if people do get killed, it will only mean bigger headlines for the cause.  At night the bomb is planted in a department store.  The room in the huge building is alight with fire after the bomb explodes.  In the morning the police raid the apartment of the bomb makers. 

On television the talk is of the continued bombardment by American warplanes of suspect Viet Cong positions. The complaint is that many civilians are killed in these bombardments. In West Berlin thousands of demonstrators protest against the Vietnam War. The anarchist Rudi Dutschke, head of the extra-parliamentary opposition, has mobilized a group of radicals.  He speaks to a very large group of students.  One of his aims is to make sure that the USA doesn't use the German government as a lackey in its imperialist schemes. 

Ulrike meets another radical, named Peter, who only knows her by sight and name.  A young right-wing extremist very much objects to these student protests.  He stalks Rudi Dutschke, approaches him on the street, calls him a dirty communist swine and shoots him three times.  The would-be assassin runs and hides in a building construction site where he downs quite a few pills.  The police search for him and he gives his position away immediately by firing at them. The police wound him in the chest and then capture him.  He tells the police:  "I can't stand communists."   

While Rudi has to have a number of emergency surgeries, the students start protesting against the shooting.  Ulrike and Peter arrive by car where the protest is taking place.  The demonstrators are protesting against the Springer publishing group.  They set on fire some of the trucks used by the company.  Then they throw a Molotov cocktail into the building.  Ulrike has not done anything, but she is grabbed by two policemen.  Another policeman recognizes her and tells the two cops that she is a journalist and they must release her.  They release her. 

The news of the Vietnam War continues to blaze on German television.  Another headline is that the Bolivian army and the CIA have capture the rebel Che Guevara, who is subsequently "murdered".  Martin Luther King is assassinated followed by the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy.  Richard Nixon becomes the president.  In Mexico there is a massacre of student protestors.  The Soviets put down the revolt in Czechoslovakia.  There is a student revolt in Paris, France. 

In court four radicals face the judges.  Andreas Baader is there.  His girlfriend, Gudrun Ensslin, says that she and Baader bombed the department store to protest the apathy toward the genocide going on in Vietnam.  As a reporter, Ulrike is there taking notes.   The three male defendants are smoking cigars in court.  When the session is over, Stefan interviews the parents Ensslin.   Mom and dad tells Stefan that Gudrun has experienced a new sense of freedom and now they feel it too.  Ulrike listens in on the interview.

Gudrun is in prison now.  Ulrike interviews her there.  Gudrun tells here that this generation won't just sit idle as Fascism spreads through the nation.  She goes on to say that if they shoot the protestors, the protestors will start shooting back. 

A young fellow named Peter Boock comes to see the now free Gudrun on bail.  She is in the bathtub and Peter is apologetic when he opens the door and sees her.  But Gudrun doesn't care about him seeing her naked.  She asks him who is he.  Peter just escaped from the juvenile detention center.  Gudrun says they are setting up a center here.  Peter asks if he can take a bath after she finishes.  Gudrun just tells him to get in the tub with her.  Peter gets in.  He has a lot of bruises from being hit by batons.  At the center there was a little rebellion.  The rebels stopped the police from grabbing them by throwing a lot of obstacles in their way and then setting them afire.  For that, the police really beat the young men.   

Andreas comes into the bathroom and is shocked to see Gudrun with Peter.  He asks Peter if he is trying to have sex with his woman?  Peter feels uncomfortable and Andreas just laughs at his little joke.  Andreas says they are going to hit Darmstadt.  They will steal several cars to get there.  Peter rides with Andreas, who takes his pistol and fires out of the car window.  He then gives the pistol to Peter and Peter fires out his window. 

Wiesbaden, Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA).  On television Chancellor Willy Brandt gives his inaugural speech.  In it he offers reconciliation to the radical students.  The hope is that this will end the almost three years of riots in West Germany.  One of the federal policemen says he thinks the radicals will progress to doing many more bombings against a society they see as oppressive. 

Rome, Italy, February 1970.  Andreas, Gudrun and another female radical sit at an outside cafe.  Their lawyer stops to talk to them.  Gudrun tells him that she and Andreas are not going back to prison despite the fact that their appeal was rejected.  The lawyer tells the radicals to sneak into West Germany illegally.  He says they have made great progress with their radical organization.  There is other news:  Dutschke now lives in London, brain damaged and hardly able to talk.  Andreas thinks the lawyer is all talk and no action.  He challenges the lawyer to steal the wallet out of the purse of a woman at the next table.  The lawyer does so, hands it off to Andreas and leaves.  Someone steals the radical's stolen car.  Andreas is furious, but the woman driver says they can always steal another car. 

Andreas and Gudrun pay a visit to Ulrike's place.  Peter is living with Ulrikel.  Also thee is a young lady named Peggy who just escaped from a girl's institution where the girls are treated very badly.  Ulrike agrees to let Andreas and Gudrun stay with them.  

Andreas gets pulled over by the police for speeding.  He is arrested and taken to Moabit Prison.  Gundrun says:  "We have to get him out."  Ulrike says she knows a publisher. 

Moabit Prison, Berlin.  Ulrike's boyfriend asks Ulrike if she is now involved with the radicals.  She says that her lawyer Mahler arranged for her and Andreas to work on a book at the Social Research Institute.  They will let Andreas out of jail so he can work on the book, but he will remain under surveillance.  Peggy says that at the SRI building the radicals will stick their guns in the faces of the police and boom, Baader is out.  Ulrike says she will stay put and act like she is surprised.  The boyfriend protests that this scheme is crazy, but Ulrike says she has to do it. 

Baader and two policemen are dropped off at SRI.  The radicals wait in a car on the opposite side of the street.  The police bring Baader into the room where Ulrike waits for them.  They are supposed to be writing the book together.  Two of the radical women come into the SRI from outside.  After awhile they open  the front door and let in a man and a woman radical.  The man shoots a worker at the SRI.  The first two women in push down a policeman.  He starts struggling with the two women.  The male radical shoots a policeman rushing into the room.  Gudrun forces the other policeman to stop fighting them when she put her rifle into the man's face..  Instead of staying in the room and continuing to act surprised, Ulrike follows the others out the window.

Stefan rushes into tell Ulrike's husband what happened.  He watches the news report on television.  Ulrike starts writing a statement:  "We say, the man in uniform is a pig, not a human being. . .  And, of course, it's okay to shoot. . .. what we want to show is that armed struggle is possible . . ." 

Jordan, 1970.  The radical group is here.  They go to a Palestinian training camp.  Their lawyer is there and he introduces them to commander Achmed.  The commander say the sexes will be staying in different buildings, but Andreas and Gudrun reject that idea and all the women and men decide to all stay together.  The urban guerillas are put through an obstacle course, but Adreas gets angry, saying this has nothing to do with what urban guerillas have to do.  Ulrike's boyfriend and the commander say something to each other and laugh.  Andreas figures it's something bad and he slugs the boyfriend in the face.  They both start fighting, until Andreas stops it by grabbing a rifle.  The commander says if they don't stop this nonsense, the Germans will all be sent away. 

Sicily, Italy.  Part of the German radicals, along with Ulrike's two daughters, camp along the beach using a minibus.  Ulrike's boyfriend Peter tells her he wants to go back to Germany.  The Palestinians are at war, he says, but that has nothing to do with the situation in Germany.  He asks what is going to happen to her girls?  He says he can go back to Germany legitimately, and will take the girls with him.  Ulrike says what he is proposing sounds an awful like betrayal, but tells him to take care when he goes back. 

Back in Jordan the women nude sunbathe on the top of one of the buildings.  Achmed tells them to put on some clothes, but the radicals say that social revolution and sexual revolution go hand in hand with each other. Andreas and Gudrun ask if the Palestinians will take care of Ulrike's two girls in Germany?  The overall base commandant says they can, but Ulrike will never see the children again.  By her silence, Ulrike seems to consent to this.  Andreas and Gudrun tell the commandant that Peter is an Israeli spy and should be executed.  Achmed tells Peter not to worry.  They will get him out. 

West Berlin, Germany.  The radicals pull another bank heist.  In fact, they rob three banks in ten minutes.  Ulrike writes another statement justifying the robberies.  Ulrike learns that someone took her children from Sicily and he even knew the password.  It was Stefan.  But that does not stop the crime spree the radicals are on. And that includes murders. 

Two of the radicals run a road block.  The police stop them on a bridge and a shoot-out begins.  The male radical gives himself up.  The female radical, Petra, shoots it out with the police and is shot just under the left eye. The other radicals hear about it on the television.  Baader says:  "This means war."   The men want revenge on the police, but Ulrike says no.  She's thinking with this strategy there will be more radicals in jail than on the outside.  Ulrike tells them that they will have to start planning more carefully and thoroughly.  Baader blows up at this suggestion, but Gudrun calms him down. 

Frankfurt HQ U.S. 5th Marine Corps.  In retaliation for more bombings in Vietnam, the radicals blow up a bomb at U.S. Marine Corps headquarters. 

Heidelberg, U.S. Army HQ Europe.  More bombs are set off in Heidelberg. 

Augsburg Police Station.  Two women carry two big bombs into the station.  They plant them and then just walk away.  As they walk away, the explosions go off.  There is still another attack in Munich.  A car bomb was to be used to kill federal judge Wolfgang Buddenberg, but his wife got into the car and was severely hurt.  A bomb is set off at Springer publishers, killing and wounding many people.  Chancellor Brandt condemns the bombings. 

At police headquarters they decide that on one single day, they will pull off a shake down of all of West Germany and West Berlin, using virtually everyone available in the police and armed forces. 

One of the bomb making places, this one in Frankfurt, is discovered by the police.  Two of the men who run the place know that someone has been in here and has moved things around.  They both grab for their pistols.  The radical on watch is told to hold it, but he points his pistol at the police and is able to run away from them.  The guy is surrounded, however, by policemen and gives himself up.  An armored vehicle moves toward the lab.  One of the radicals starts shooting and the fire is returned by police with automatic weapons.  Their little workplace is soon shot up by hundreds of bullets.  Tear gas is thrown into the room from a window.  One of the radicals kicks it out of the room.  The police back up a bit. 

A sniper shoots the blonde radical in the thigh and he is taken into custody.   The television reports that the police arrested Andreas Baader and Holger Meins.  Ulrike cuts her hair short in response to the capture.  Andreas is beaten very badly at the police station.  A female radical changes her hair color and makes her hair very curly.  She goes to a clothes store to get new outfits, but while there, the clerk discovers the woman has a pistol in her old coat.  She calls the police.  They grab her and take her down.   

A raid is made on a radical hideout and Ulrike is captured.  The fellow in charge can hardly believe they have captured Ulrike Meinhof.  He asks if she is Meinfhof and Ulrike just starts sliding down the wall while crying. 

Wittlich Prison.  Cologne Prison.  Essen Prison.  Schwalmstadt Prison.  All hold young radicals.  The major forces behind the Baader Meinhof gang have been captured.  A radical named Astrid is arrested and taken to a prison.  There she shouts out for Ulrike!  Ulrike shouts out:  "Astrid!"

The 1972 Olympic Games open in Munich.  This is where terrorists captured the Israeli Olympic wrestling team and coach and where the Israelis died at Furstenfeldbruck Military Airport. 

The fellow who commanded the German attack on the Baader Meinhof gang now convenes a meeting and asks if terrorism has become just another form of warfare? 

Seven months later.     Meinhof is in solitary confinement and she hates it.  She and others go on a hunger strike to improve conditions for themselves in the prisons.  Some of the radicals are force fed. 

November 10, 1974, Berlin.  The day after the death of Holger Meins from his hunger strike, the president of Berlin's High Court, Von Drenkmann, was shot at his home.  Ulrike writes that the radicals celebrate the death of Von Drenkmann.  At the funeral for Meins, Rudi Dutschke shows up.  He throws some dirt onto the casket, then raises a clenched right hand fist and says:  "Holger, the fight goes on!"  Others in the crowd also hold up a clenched fist. 

New radicals are recruited.  In Stammheim Prison, in four weeks, the trial of the radical gang will begin.  The radicals attack the German embassy in Stockholm, Sweden grabbing various officials.  They hold the officials hostage to force Germany to let the radicals out of prison.  One of the embassy workers is killed when the guards refuse to pull back.  A bomb goes off in the embassy.  A firefight breaks out.  Five terrorist are arrested, one is killed. 

The trials of the radicals start.  The radicals protest that for most of their three years in prison they have been held in solitary confinement. 

39th day of the trial.  Meinhof won't cooperate so she is banned from the proceedings.  Then the three other defendants won't cooperate and they are also banned from the proceedings. 

February  1976.  Ulrike and Gudrun really hate each other at this stage.  The four defendants constantly argue.  Ulrike gets disgusted and returns to her cell. 

At 41 years of age, Ulrike Meinhof commits suicide in prison by hanging herself.

Day 109 of the trial in Stuttgart-Stammheim.  In court the three remaining defendants say they believe that Ulrike did not commit suicide, but rather was executed.  The defendants are able to get other radical prisoners transferred to Stuttgart-Stammheim, namely:  Schubert, Moller and Brigitte Mohnhaupt.  The latter woman will get out in seven months and will probably go underground.   

Spring 1977.  One of the new radicals, Brigitte Mohnhaupt, is let out of prison.  She travels by train to her destination in Wetter, where she is greeted by other radicals.  She talks alone to a radical named Charlie.  The newly freed woman tells Charlie that there are to be no attacks against the people.  Instead, they will concentrate on two kidnappings.  Mohnhaupt says she has been in prison for five years without having sex with a man.  She wants to have sex with Charlie.  Charlie agrees. 

April 7, 1977.  The radicals say that figuratively speaking Commando Ulrike Meinhof executed Attorney General Siegfried Buback.  He was directly responsible for the murder of Holger Meins, Siegfried Hausner and Ulrike Meinhof.  A motorcycle pulls up by a traffic light next to Buback's car.  The motorcyclist behind the driver uses an automatic weapon to kill Buback, the driver and the body guard. 

Charlie, Brigitte Mohnhaupt and another woman assassinate a banker named Ponto.  The third woman is very upset and cries, because she thought they were just going to kidnap Ponto, not murder him. 

The gang plans another kidnapping, this one in Cologne.  They kill the body guards and the drivers of the man they want.  They then kidnap Hanns-Martin Schleyer, the President of the Employers' Association.  They put him in a small room in their hideout.  The prison guards now take away the sound equipment and television from Gudrun and the other prisoners.  Chancellor Schmidt speaks to the public about the fanatic terrorists.  The ransom asked for Schleyer is the release of ten RAF (Red Army Faction) political prisoners. 

Baghdad, Iraq, October, 1977.  Mohnhaupt and Charlie arrive to talk with a fellow calling himself Martyr Mohammed.  They tell their host that Chancellor Schmidt is determined to either find their hostage or sacrifice him. 

Brussels, Belgium.  Schleyer is moved to a new apartment. 

The host of the terrorists in Baghdad says they can either attack the German embassy in Kuwait or hijack a Lufthansa airplane.  Mohnhaupt and Charlie choose the hijacking.  And, indeed, a passenger jet is hijacked.  It was going from Mallorca with its destination as Frankfurt, Germany, but the plane was hijacked and diverted to Rome and the island of Cyprus.  Schleyer makes a broadcast after being held for ransom for over five weeks.  The passenger jet has to make an emergency landing inn Dubai, South Yemen.  None of the Arab countries want the passenger jet on their territory.   Mohnhaupt says that everything is going wrong with their plan.  One of the pilots, Captain Schumann,  has been shot dead.  Now the plane lands in Mogadishu, Somali.

Government officials speak to Baader who says he does not personally know these second and third generation RAF members.  He says they are more brutal than the first RAF members. 

The passengers are released from the hijacked plane after it was taken over by a special unit of the Federal Border Guard.  Only one of the terrorists has survived the attack. 

Bringing the breakfast to the prisoners in the morning, the kitchen worker and a guard  find Raspe, Mrs. Moller, Andreas Baader and Gudrun Ennsslin dead by suicide.

The RFA members are upset.  Some believe the prison guards killed the prisoners.  Mohnhaupt tells them that the prisoners killed themselves.  And this includes Meinhof. 

Belgium-French Border.  Mr. Schleyer is taken out of the trunk of a car and assassinated by pistol fire. 



Good movie.  I knew the radical leftists groups in Germany were a big problem for that nation, but I didn't know the full extent of it.  This film gives the viewer the full extent of the crimes committed by the leftist terrorists.  I really think that leftist terrorism is counter-productive in democracies, because it encourages right-wing extremism among conservatives.  It encourages right-wing counter-violence and it helps de-legitimize leftist causes.  And how does the death of policemen and innocent citizens do anything but hurt leftist causes?  (And, yes, it is morally wrong.)  It was interesting at times to listen to the lame rationales used by the leftists to excuse their killing innocent people.  Peaceful demonstrations would do a lot more than murder and mayhem.

I was a bit of a student radical when I was in college, but the other radicals has believes that were too paranoid and counter-productive.  So I dropped out pretty soon after I joined.  Leftist radicals are too crazy for my tastes. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.



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