Stefan Aust (interviewed on NZ radio)

Stefan Aust, Germany’s leading liberal authority of the RAF, interviewed by Radio New Zealand. It’s a short little interview, but it gives a flavour of the man’s way of looking at things.

While i certainly disagree with his spin, Aust is someone i think you have to pay attention to if you’re interested in the history of the Red Army Faction, if only because his view has come to be the “official unofficial” one we’re supposed to have of the group: cold blooded, psychologically warped, cruel, obsessive… oh but they didn’t start out so bad.

Similarly: they killed themselves, just like the state says they did, in prison they managed to get guns, set up a clandestine radio system, do themselves in (coincidentally on the night that the prison’s video surveillance system mysteriously malfunctioned, and that’s not the least of the discrepancies)… oh but someone in power probably knew they were planning this. So the state is not blameless.

Aust pushes a line of equivocation, with the psychological having primacy over the political every time someone steps to the left of social democracy. Which is fine – he is a liberal, that’s what one would expect him to think.

But he’s also someone with a bit of obsession about the RAF (he was briefly friends with Meinhof before she went under), and as such he’s done an inordinate amount of research into the RAF’s early history (until 77). His account – contained in his book The Baader Meinhof Complex, and regurgitated in the recent Uli Edel film of the same name – is marred by his seeming disinterest in the RAF’s politics, or the broader political context, beyond some impressionistic “those were the daze” anecdotes. Similarly marred by his own psychological need to frame Ulrike Meinhof – the group’s chief theoretician in the early years – as an innocent victim led astray by the nasty guerillas, so that every rumour or story of someone else in the group not getting along with Meinhof is zeroed in on.

Like i said, the psychological having primacy over the political.


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