Same Old Same Old in Germany

a younger Rolf Clemens Wagner

Those of you who appreciated last week’s installments about the Red Army Faction and the events of October 1977 may find the following of some interest.

As a result of an interview given to Junge Welt magazine last week, both the right-wing Bild Zeitung newspaper and former Federal Minister of Defense (CDU) Rupert Scholz are calling for charges to be laid against former RAF member Rolf Clemens Wagner. Specifically for “speech encouraging criminality” and “disparaging the memory of the dead”. The former carries a maximum 2-year sentence, the latter 5 years maximum.

Wagner was one of those sought as a result of the actions carried out in the RAF’s 1977 offensive. In 1978 he and several other RAF members were arrested in Yugoslavia, at the time a “communist” country. The Yugoslav government attempted to trade these RAF members to the West Germans in exchange for some Croatian fascists who were being held in West Germany. When the West Germans refused the Yugoslav authorities released the RAF prisoners to an undisclosed third country.

In 1979 Wagner was one of a number of RAF members involved in a bank robbery in Zurich, Switzerland in which two bystanders were tragically shot (as were two cops). He wad captured and sentenced to life in prison. He was later extradited to West Germany where in 1987 he was convicted of the murder of Hans Martin Schleyer – the business leader and former Nazi the RAF had kidnapped in 1977 – and sentenced once again to life in prison.

He served a total of twenty four behind bars, and was only released in 2003 when he received a presidential pardon as part of the State’s attempt to put its conflict with the RAF to rest.

What Wagner said in the interview was really uncontroversial so far as i’m concerned, simple basic common sense. What is causing a fuss is his statement that:

In retrospect, many of our decisions seem correct even today. Take, for example, the decision to kidnap Hanns Martin Schleyer. He, with his SS history, acting as the business leader in the occupied zones and in his new role as strong-arm and President of the Employers Association; we didn’t chose him by chance.

For saying this, he now risks being prosecuted and possibly returning to prison.


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