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Sie sind hier: Home » Girl Friday – the Book of Bad » Girl Friday – the Book of Bad 30. Ulrike Goes Pop

Gabbi WernerGirl Friday – the Book of Bad 30. Ulrike Goes Pop

Von | 07.03.2014, 13:41 | Kein Kommentar

Times are a-changing. So are the people. And dead terrorists make great pop icons.

Welcome. To the stories I told in many hotelrooms. To a man who had trouble falling asleep. A business deal. He paid for my words.

Here they are.


The Rote Armee Fraktion changed. More and more, their methodology and vocabulary became a twisted duplicate of the fascists they tirelessly fought. Ulrike Meinhofs´pamphlets started to sound like statements which Goebbels had sent out in the Second World War. „It is with great pride that we can announce that one of our most ardent members has died an heroic death combatting the capitalist pigs“, one of her messages read. The same way the Nazis announced their soldiers dead in newspapers at the end of the war. The actions became even more violent, the people of Germany no longer sympathised with them, but feared the group. Thus, the German government felt the pressure of having to catch the Rote Armee Fraction. An enormous task force was put just on getting their hands on them. The group was caught and sentenced.

 Ulrike Meinhof was found hung in her cell in Stammheim Prison in 1976. It was during the kidnapping of Hanns Martin Schleyer that the group became a daily news item. More so after one member shot a Dutch policeman in Utrecht. Then, when the kidnapping turned out to be a futile tactic to have the other members of the group released, Baader, Enslin, Raspe were found dead in their cells on October 18th, 1977. Schleyer was executed by the Rote Armee Fraktion that night. My parents had intense arguments about the abduction, the shooting, the trial and the alleged suicides. I didn´t understand anything my parents said, they were more interested in the legal side of the trial than in the fact that Schleyer had died, or in what the Rote Armee Fraktion stood for. My father would recite the verdict of one court case, my mother would name the number of a statutory provision, it had nothing to do with the images I saw on television and in the newspapers: these people were rough, they fought with a vehemence that made their small army powerful enough to get the German prime minister into a complete state of shock. I did not know whether to admire or to detest Baader Meinhof, nor did my parents. Their discussions did not clarify the matter for me either. Did I want to join the group, were they fighting for a better world, a world in peace, as one of my teachers in school said? Or should I, like the police wanted me to do, go chase them and collect the reward?
But as far as the news goes, the group disappeared from the headlines.
Then, in the Mid-Eighties, being a punk made knowledge of the Baader Meinhof Gruppe worthwhile again. It was important to dig deeper into the matter. I suddenly found myself surrounded by people who, under circumstances, would embrace Germany. This was a new sensation. It had to be the right Germany however, meaning left-wing. Heinrich Böll,  Margaretha von Trotta. They were good Germans. I had to educate myself into a completely new person. When my classmates in high-school would learn grammar, geography and maths, I was working hard on the subjects communism and anarchy. I was memorising the lyrics of songs by the Birthday Party and Einstürzende Neubauten.  My tuition expanded to watching Eisensteins Potemkin and Fritz Langs Metropolisalthough the projectionist at the cinema had accidentally changed the reels in the wrong order, so that nobody had a clue what that movie was about. I got a small part in Berthold Brechts  „Threepenny Opera“, Brecht was a good German too in 1985. All the punks in our city were the same in a way, we came from rather well-to-do families and tried to hide the fact that we had grown up in big houses with huge gardens. We were part of the proletariat. I don´t think we wanted to start a revolution or anything, but we had to have at least some kind of ideal. And hippies were just utterly unfashionable, so we were punk.
That summer I learned more about anarchy. I went on tour with an English band. We travelled in a black van of a friend of ours. We would listen to Reggae music and Neue Deutsche Welle songs and sing along to them. The van was spray-painted grey and had a graffiti on each of the side doors: it was a red star with the face of Ulrike Meinhof in the centre. The graffiti looked like an Andy Warhol  painting. In a way, the terrorist martyr had become a pop icon.

To be Continued. Next Friday. Every Friday. From 09.00h.

Link to German Translation: click  Girl Friday – Buch des Bösen 30. Nur tote Terroristen sind gute Pop-Ikonen

Artwork: Gabbi Werner

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