HITLER'S CHILDREN: The Story of the Baader-Meinhof Terrorist Gang by Jillian Becker

HITLER'S CHILDREN: The Story of the Baader-Meinhof Terrorist Gang

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Becker's unrestrained loathing of her subjects--the rampaging Baader-Meinhof gang--infects her minutely detailed history of the West German group which called itself the Red Army Faction (RAF). She sees them variously as infantile, hedonistic exhibitionists (Andreas Baader) and warped, masochistic idealists (Meinhof). Neither of the two leading personalities came out of the German Student Movement, which however galvanized them. Bombings, arson, and bank robberies were their preferred ""praxis"" and Marx, Marcuse, and Mao supplied ideological camouflage for their murderous Bonnie-and-Clyde antics. The gang--on their brief trip to the Middle East, the Palestinians refused to accept them as true guerrillas--drew much support from Germany's ""Schili"": the radical chic Left. This fact particularly shocks Becker who describes the fancy sports cars, the free apartments, and the money gifts put at their disposal. She denies categorically that they were ""psychologically tortured"" in prison even though Jean-Paul Sartre was duped into believing this. Becker's own analysis of where they came from and who they were, rests on a doubtful theory of generations: the Baader-Meinhof terrorists and their followers were the violent backlash against the totalitarian state of their fathers. By the end of the story--and despite police chases and kidnappings the story quickly gets tedious--it's impossible to believe the graveside eulogy which sanctified Ulrike Meinhof as ""the most significant woman in German politics since Rosa Luxemburg."" But Becker's sarcastic revulsion--she despises everything about them down to their hairstyles and music--smacks of runaway diabolism. There's even an emblematic figure, a fringe activist named Fritz Teufel (Devil).

Pub Date: June 2nd, 1977
Publisher: Lippincott