Fall 2007 Lecture Series

The “German Autumn” of 1977: Terror, State, and Society in West Germany 

All lectures begin at 6:30pm (refreshments will be served from 6:00 to 6:30 pm) and will be held at the German Historical Institute, 1607 New Hampshire Avenue NW (Directions)

Deutscher Herbst – “German Autumn” – was the name a group of filmmakers bestowed upon a series of terrorist attacks and the atmosphere of crisis they provoked in West Germany in late 1977. On September 5 of that year, the self-styled urban guerillas of the Red Army Faction (Rote Armee Fraktion, RAF) kidnapped Hanns Martin Schleyer, a prominent businessman, and demanded that imprisoned RAF members be freed as the condition for Schleyer’s release. After the government of Chancellor Helmut Schmidt refused to meet the kidnappers’ terms, a group of Palestinian terrorists hijacked a Lufthansa passenger jet and, like Schleyer’s kidnappers, demanded the release of the imprisoned RAF members. West German counterterrorist forces stormed the plane in the night of October 17-18 and succeeded in rescuing the 86 passengers on board. Later that same night, four imprisoned RAF members attempted suicide; three died, the fourth survived. Shortly after the raid on the hijacked plane, Schleyer was shot by his captors; his corpse was found on October 19. These events and the measures enacted in response to them gave new urgency to West Germany’s long-running debate on political violence and civil liberties. This lecture series will revisit the Deutscher Herbst and West Germany’s confrontation with terrorism.

Ideology and Terror in the Red Decade: Reflections on Communism, Anti-Zionism, and the Memory of Terrorism’s Victims
September 27, 2007
Jeffrey Herf (University of Maryland)

Refusing to be “Good Germans”: New Left Violence as a Global Phenomenon
October 25, 2007
Jeremy Varon (Drew University)

Terror and Security: Law Enforcement, the Media, and Social Change in West Germany during the 1970s
November 1, 2007
Klaus Weinhauer (University of Bielefeld)

Militant Subcultures: The Origins of West German Terrorism in the Late 1960s
November 8, 2007
Detlef Siegfried (University of Copenhagen)

Stammheim and Majdanek: Prosecuting Terrorists and Nazis in 1970s West Germany
November 29, 2007
Rebecca Wittman (University of Toronto)

RSVP (acceptances only)
Phone: 202.387.3355 - Fax: 202.387.6437 - E-mail