Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Baader Meinhof Gang

Deaths, Arrests and Bombs Away!

Petra Schelm
Petra Schelm

At 19, Petra Schelm was one of the younger members of the RAF. She also had certain working-class credentials since she had been a hairdresser and had planned on a career in beauty parlors before deciding to give her all to the communist cause.

The young lady was driving a blue BMW on July 15, 1971 when police gave a signal to stop. She ignored it and stepped on the gas, so the cops gave chase. The police car overtook the BMW and the blue car braked. The male passenger got out and shot at the police, who returned fire and ordered the pair to surrender. Schelm began firing. The man with her tried to run away on foot. Schelm ducked behind another vehicle and kept blasting away at the police. An officer fired with a machine gun, shooting Schelm in the head and killing her.

Werner Hoppe
Werner Hoppe

The man who had been in the car with Petra was one Werner Hoppe. His connection with the RAF was unknown but he was tried and convicted of attempted murder for shooting at the police officers.

Another RAF-connected shooting took place about two months later on September 25. Two police officers saw a car parked incorrectly. They began walking toward what they assumed was a routine parking violation when two people, a man and a woman, jumped out of the automobile with guns blasting away. One cop was shot through the hand and the other seriously wounded although he was able to recover. Their assailants were identified as Holger Meins and Margrit Schiller, both with the RAF.

Irmgard Möller
Irmgard Möller

On October 22, two police named Schmid and Lemke spotted Schiller along with two compatriots, Irmgard Möller and Gerhard Müller. The police car pulled up beside the trio strolling on the sidewalk. Schiller raced to a nearby park and the two cops followed her. Schmid caught up with Schiller and grabbed one arm just as she pulled a gun with the other one. He shouted, "They're armed!" just as Schiller's friends opened fire. Lemke returned fire even though he was wounded in the foot. Schmid took six bullets and was dead on arrival at the hospital.

Police Officer Norbert Schmid shot
Police Officer Norbert Schmid shot

Margrit Schiller was apprehended as she came out of a telephone booth at 2:30 AM that morning. When placed under arrest, she cried to the two male cops, "Oh! I thought you just wanted to f*** me!"

Other lesser luminaries of the Baader-Meinhof Gang got arrested and still others, both rank and file and bigshots, committed robberies. The December 22 robbery of the Bavarian Mortgage and Exchange Bank ended with the shooting death of police officer Herbert Schoner, a thirty-two-year father of two children.

Baader-Meinhof Gang members, their faces covered by carnival masks, entered and robbed another branch of the same bank on February 21, 1972. This robbery left a mystery that persists to this day.

Ingeborg Barz
Ingeborg Barz

The gang had recently acquired a member named Ingeborg Barz. She was a pretty young woman with blonde hair who had done secretarial work and dabbled in radical politics before joining the RAF. On the evening of the February 21 robbery, a tearful and distraught Barz telephoned her mother and said that she, Ingeborg, wanted to quit the gang.

Ingeborg Barz was never seen alive again. Gerhard Müller, a RAF terrorist who turned state's evidence, testified that Andreas Baader shot her to death for wanting to leave the group. However, there were many inconsistencies in his testimony and no body was found at the location he claimed Barz had been buried. In 1975, a female skeleton was found outside Munich and identified by the cops as that of Ingeborg Barz. However, many people dispute the identification and that woman had not been shot.

The skull identified as Ingeborg Barz
The skull identified as Ingeborg Barz

On March 2, 1972, police opened the front door of the apartment in which two RAF affiliates, Wolfgang Grundmann and Manfred Grashof, were holed up. The cop shouted, "Hands up — police!"

"Don't shoot! We're unarmed!" Grundmann told the arresting officers but Grashof's firing of a gun soon belied his words. Manfred hit one of the police officers and the other one hit him. Grashof recovered from his wound but the cop was not so lucky. He was in the hospital, unconscious for three weeks, before succumbing to his injuries.

That same day saw the shooting death of a leftist terrorist named Thomas Weissbecker and the arrest of the comrade with him, Carmen Roll.

Early in May 1972, the United States began mining harbors in North Vietnam. The main honchos of the RAF were in a Frankfurt apartment, listening to the radio, when they heard this news. Gudrun Ensslin said the group should bomb American army bases in retaliation and Andreas Baader gave his hearty approval to that suggestion.

On the evening of May 11, pipe bombs exploded in the officers' mess at the Fifth US Army Corps in Frankfurt. Gas and glass and debris flew every which way. Four wounded people ran down to the basement to hide and somebody screamed, "Put your jackets over your heads!" Another shouted, "Everybody out of the building!"

39-year-old Lieutenant Colonel Paul A. Bloomquist lay dead on the floor, killed by glass that had lodged in his throat. He was the only one killed but 13 others were wounded in this RAF attack.

The group soon issued a statement taking responsibility for the blast in the officers' mess. That declaration was signed "Petra Schelm Commando" and said, "West Germany and West Berlin will no longer be a safe hinterland for the strategists of extermination in Vietnam."

After the car bomb exploded
After the car bomb exploded

The RAF decided to fan out and bomb in other cities. Around noon on May 12, bombs went off in an Augsburg police station, injuring five officers. Just two hours later, an explosion occurred in the car park of the Munich regional Criminal Investigation Office, destroying 60 vehicles.

On May 15, a woman named Gerta Buddenberg was planning to do some shopping, and then pick her husband up from work. His work was at the federal court and he was Judge Wolfgang Buddenberg, who had signed warrants for the arrests of many RAF members as well as warrants for the searches of their hiding places. Frau Buddenberg slid behind the wheel of her husband's bright red Volkswagen and turned on the ignition. Instantly, the car blew up. Greta Buddenberg survived but was permanently disabled by injuries to her legs.

Four days later, the Springer building in Hamburg got a warning phone call. A man told the answering worker that, "A bomb will go off in the building in five minutes time!" The woman who took the call dismissed it as a prank and told the caller she was certain he was joking. "You swine never take anything seriously," he replied before hanging up.

A second warning call was placed and taken by an answering operator sitting beside the first, disbelieving lady. "A bomb will go off in five minutes' time!" the caller shouted frantically. "Clear the building at once!"

"Is it that crazy man again?" the skeptical operator asked with a conspicuous air of unconcern.

Her co-worker nodded as the caller screamed, "You bloody swine!" before slamming down the phone.

The second operator took the caller more seriously and called the administration. It was too late. The bomb exploded while she was on the line and seventeen people were injured.

The three unexploded bombs are displayed at a press conference
The three unexploded bombs are displayed at a press conference

The next day, the Springer office received another phone call. "There are more bombs in the building," the anonymous caller warned. This statement was taken very seriously. Police carefully scoured the building and found three more bombs that were successfully defused.

Letters explaining the bombings were sent to the German Press Agency, the UPI, and two German publications. "Springer would rather risk seeing his workers and clerical staff injured by bombs than risk losing a few hours' working time, which means profit, over a false alarm," the missive said. "To capitalists, profit is everything and the people who create it are dirt. We are deeply upset to hear that workers and clerical staff were injured." The letters were signed: "the 2 June Commando."

On May 24, 1972, pipe bombs exploded just outside the Campbell Barracks at the US Army headquarters in Heidelberg. Killed were three American GIs. Five more were wounded. Again the 2 June Commando claimed responsibility.

The police of West Germany engaged in an intense and coordinated man — and woman — hunt for both the RAF and the 2 June Commando. That search would soon pay off.

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