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

The Baader Meinhof Complex is another movie on the border between war and terrorism. It takes a close look at Germany’s Red Army Faction (RAF) or Rote Armee Fraktion, one of the earliest terrorist groups that made terrorism their profession. They were responsible for robbings, killings, kidnappings in the late 60s and early 70s. What the movie doesn’t show is the fact that there were different waves. The Baader Meinhof group was the first wave of the RAF. Their initial aim was never to kill people but once that started and got out of hands, more radical groups followed, like the one led by Brigitte Mohnhaupt (portrayed by Nadja Uhl) also called Deutscher Herbst (German Autumn).

Not everything is as it should be in Germany in the 1970s. The children of the Nazi generation are afraid that nothing has changed in Germany. Many of the old National Socialist party got away and are in prominent positions in the government. A group around the enigmatic figures of Andreas Baader (Moritz Bleibtreu), Ulrike Meinhof (Martina Gedeck) and Gudrun Ensslin (Martina Wokalek) are fighting a violent war against what they perceive as the new face of fascism: American imperialism supported by the German establishment.

At first they bomb empty buildings, but get more and more violent in the process. One of their two main enemies are the Axel Springer Verlag and the American bases in Germany. They try to fight the war in Vietnam and bomb an American base which costs the lives of soldiers.

The ideas behind their doings were far from wrong. They wanted to build a new society where there was no room for fascism and totalitarianism. Despite the violence, the support in the German population was huge and the whole nation followed how they were hunted down and captured.

Once the heads were arrested they were isolated and held under inhumane conditions which they fought. But even inside of prison, they still organized terrorist acts  and their collective suicide must be seen as a last attempt to right the wrong.

The Baader Meinhof group is highly interesting. This was the birth of terrorism. Nothing like this has been seen before. They went to training camps in Jordan and fought together with the Palestinians against Israel that was considered to be an enemy like the US.

These were not mindless people, they were students and intellectuals, Ulrike Meinhof was a well-known journalist.

Although I cannot approve of their methods, there were too many killings and kidnappings, I can’t help thinking that they changed the fate of Germany for the good. The German society after WWII was still highly infected by Nazism. Many Nazis got away and played important roles in Germany. The Baader-Meinhof did denounce and unmask this. Without them, who knows what Germany would look like today?

The cast of this movie is excellent. The hunted are well chose and so are the hunters. The head of the police force is played by Bruno GanzHeino Ferch stars as his assistant.

The heads of the first wave all died. Meinhof, Ensslin, Baader and Raspe committed suicide in prison. It was rumoured that it was murder but nothing could ever be proven.

The second wave, among them Brigitte Mohnhaupt, left prison a while back (2007), after 25 years of incarceration.

10 thoughts on “Der Baader Meinhof Komplex aka The Baader Meinhof Complex (2008)

  1. Guy Savage says:

    I was eager to see this film as I’ve read a number of books about the RAF. I had problems with the film–particularly the ending as it made it seem as though the group agreed to commit suicide. I don’t believe that. In fact they’d stated categorically that they would NOT commit suicide, and then there are many unanswered questions regarding exactly how guns and a knife were smuggled in to the prison. My feelings are that the RAF leaders were considered a dangerous attraction and that as long as they were alive, kidnappings to free them would continue.

    Have you seen Fassbinder’s Autumn in Germany?

    • I expected a very bad movie as the reviews in Germany were very unkind but that was to be expected. The critics had problems with the actors. I think they did a good job though. haven’t read all that much about them. I read one of Meinhof’s books. Are you implying that they were killed? I really don’t think so. From everything I heard and knew about them, they did commit suicide. Their lawyer must have helped them to get the weapons, the guy who is still in one of the German parties, can’t recollect his name right now. The second wave under Brigitte Mohnhaupt was already so active that killing the Baader Meinhof didn’t really bring that much.

  2. warmoviebuff says:

    Sounds interesting. I barely remember hearing about them when I was younger. They were demonized in America, of course. Shockingly, it is available on Net Flix instant play, so I may watch it soon. The poster makes it look like there are some hot chicks in it. I hope I am not disappointed

    • The Baader-Meinhof women were very good looking, indeed. I can see why they were not appreciated in the US, they were indiscriminately anti-US. This is the birth of large-scale terrorism. Everythig that came after was copying them. So it is interesting for many reasons.

      • warmoviebuff says:

        Just finished watching it. Thanks for the recommendation. Very good film. Well acted. Very interesting. I learned a lot about something I knew little of. Did some research and I can say it is accurate historically. I admire the even-handedness of the protrayal. As an American, I would have to say the RAF comes off as a bunch of bored young people looking for a dragon to slay. I have a hard time understanding why America’s involvement in Vietnam would upset Germans so much. It strikes me that they were envious of our radical left and wanted to emulate them. It is amazing to me that even though the U.S. was in a very divisive war, we saw little of the violence from our radicals that West Germany saw from theirs. Is that the German personality thing?

      • I’m glad you liked it. I think that the American left followed the European left. It started in Paris, if I’m not mistaken. French students were not as radical. I don’t think they were bored at all. Germany was still a Nazi state, believe it or not. The same “spirit” that reigned in the country before the war, was still there. I seriously doubt Germany would be what it is nowadays without the Baader Meinhof. They unmasked a lot of things, put a lot of things in motion.
        The Europena left, until this day, is fanatically anti-US. I know places where you cannot order Coca Cola.

  3. Novroz says:

    this sounds interesting and educational. I have never heard of this terorist before.
    the lead of the second wave left prison in 2007, what happened to him now?

    • I don’t know what happened to them. I remember when they came out in 2007 they were questioned on German TV on many details but didn’t say a thing. there is still a lot that has never been clarified and will never be known. I presume they lve under different names but I’m not sure.

  4. Curvy Kitty says:

    I think the Nazi state element is completely missing from the film. I have to agree withbth War Movie Buff. They come across as bored and, to my mind, completely reprehensible. Maybe you need to know the full context in order to appreciate their stance.

    • Growing up in a German speaking country you always heard things about them, I have also read quite a bit, this probably entered my viewing of the film. They certainly weren’t just bored… They hated the States as all the other leftists do, to this day.

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