On this day in 1970 the Red Army Faction was established in West Germany.
The Red Army Faction existed from 1970 to 1998, committing numerous operations, especially in late 1977, which led to a national crisis that became known as “German Autumn.”
It was held responsible for thirty-four deaths, including many secondary targets, such as chauffeurs and bodyguards, and many injuries in its almost thirty years of activity.
Although better-known, the RAF conducted fewer attacks than the Revolutionary Cells (German: Revolutionäre Zellen, RZ), which is held responsible for 296 bomb attacks, arson and other attacks between 1973 and 1995.
Although Meinhof was not considered to be a leader of the RAF at any time, her involvement in Baader’s escape from jail in 1970 and her well-known status as a German journalist led to her name becoming attached to it.
There were three successive incarnations of the organization:
- The “first generation” which consisted of Baader and his associates,
- The “second generation” RAF, which operated in the mid to late 1970s after several former members of the Socialist Patients’ Collective joined, and
- The “third generation” RAF, which existed in the 1980s and 1990s.
On 20 April 1998, an eight-page typewritten letter in German was faxed to the Reuters news agency, signed “RAF” with the submachine-gun red star, declaring that the group had dissolved.