Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Baader Meinhof Gang

Spoiled Boy Baader

Andreas Baader (AP)
Andreas Baader (AP)

Born in Munich on May 6, 1943, Andreas Baader probably could not even remember his father, historian and archivist Berndt Baader. Berndt had fought for Germany on the Russian front and been taken prisoner in 1945. He had never been heard from again and was presumed dead.

His mother, an aunt, and a grandmother raised little Andi. He was a boy in a household of women because so many male relatives had lost their lives in combat during the Second World War. The women who reared him doted on the energetic, mischievous, blue-eyed lad. He was believed to be of high intelligence, and some teachers commented that he wrote good essays, but he made poor grades because he simply did not apply himself. He was frequently rebellious and lazy at schoolwork but those caring for Andi were reluctant to discipline him even when informed by teachers that he was leading other children astray. Their lackadaisical approach to child rearing meant that Andreas Baader never learned to delay gratification and could not buckle down to the hard work necessary for accomplishment. Overindulged, he was paradoxically deprived.

As an older teenager, he developed a love for motorcycles and cars. However, he bothered neither to obtain a valid driver's license nor to observe speed limits and often stole vehicles just for a joyride. As a result, he soon racked up a long list of traffic violations and was in and out of court frequently.

Kicked out of high school, he tried an art college but soon quit. He tried writing advertising copy but that job didn't last.

Much of his ample free time was spent hanging out in various cafés and bars. Loose-fitting jeans were in fashion for men at the time so Andreas made his own britches that would hug his buttocks and show off his endowment, especially since he eschewed underwear. He was indeed attractive, both to women, whom he bedded, and to gay men, whom he would lead on and then ridicule.

At 20 years of age, a vain, stubborn, lazy, and floundering Andreas headed for West Berlin. There he met a lady named Ellinor Michel. She was a somewhat successful artist who favored a bohemian type of lifestyle. Andreas moved in with both "Elly" and her husband, although the latter left during Baader's stay. Andreas impregnated Elly and their daughter, Suse, came into the world in 1965. He continued to make love with other women, to tear through the city in borrowed (usually from girlfriends) cars, and to rack up traffic violations.

In 1967 Andreas became acquainted with Gudrun Ensslin. She soon turned into much more than just another casual bedmate. For in between lovemaking, Gudrun spoke incessantly of leftist politics and theory. At first, Baader was dismissive. The whole system was a "shithouse," not worth bothering about. But under her influence, his attitude changed and he adopted radical left-wing politics along with monogamy. Did he see in Marxism an easy justification for his own failure to "make it" in a capitalist country? That is possible. However, he may also have become genuinely converted to the cause, partly because he saw in revolutionary action a way that his traits of fearlessness and rebelliousness could finally be put to good use. Statements made by Andreas show that he acquired a more than rudimentary knowledge of leftist ideology and the persistence with which he pursued radical activism suggests true commitment.

Some of Baader's habits of speech suggest that, at least in his attitudes about gender, he remained somewhat old-fashioned. Although the band he would come to head would include many women and, as was fashionable among leftist groups of the time period, pay lip service to the cause of female emancipation, Andreas would always refer to women as "cunts." Indeed, he would even address Gudrun as "cunt," while she called him, "baby."

Perhaps now is a good time to discuss the government that Baader, Ensslin, and others of like mind wanted so desperately to overthrow.

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