April 28

This Day in History

General Interest

Apr 28, 1977:

Red Army Faction trial ends

In Stuttgart, West Germany, the lengthy trial of the leaders of the terrorist Baader-Meinhof Gang, also known as the Red Army Faction, ends with Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin, and Jan-Carl Raspe being found guilty of four counts of murder and more than 30 counts of attempted murder. Each defendant was sentenced to life imprisonment, Germany's most severe punishment.

The Red Army Faction was founded by ultra-left revolutionaries Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof in 1968. Advocating communist revolution in West Germany, the group employed terrorist tactics against government, military, and corporate leaders in an effort to topple capitalism in their homeland. Baader was imprisoned in 1970 but escaped, and Meinhof was captured in 1972. In 1976, Baader was recaptured, and Meinhof hanged herself in her cell.

During the trial of Baader and his associates, the few Red Army Faction members still at large continued their program of violence and assassination. In 1976, two Baader-Meinhof guerrillas took part in the Palestinian hijacking of an Air France jetliner that ended with the Israeli raid on the Entebbe airport in Uganda. Both Germans were killed.

In April 1977, Baader and the others were sentence to life. Six months later, Palestinian terrorists hijacked a Lufthansa airliner to Somalia and demanded the release of imprisoned Red Army Faction members. On October 17, West German commandos stormed the plane in Mogadishu, releasing the captives and killing the hijackers. The next day, Baader and three others were found shot in their jail cells, presumably suicides.

Red Army Faction violence continued until 1992, when the group officially called off its terrorist campaign. It was later discovered that the East German secret police had provided training, supplies, and protection to the Red Army Faction during the 1970s.

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