Armed Resistance in West Germany
The Revolutionary Cells (RZ) first appeared on November 16, 1973 with an attack against ITT in West Berlin to point out the participation of this multinational corporation in Pinochet's military putsch in Chile. In 1974, the first high-explosive attack was undertaken by the wimmin of the RZ against the Bundesverfassungsgericht (Federal Constitutional Court) in Karlsruhe, the day after it supported the abortion law, Par. 218; a paragraph against free choice on abortion, allowing abortion only in certain cases. The wimmin naturally demanded the total right for every womyn to have an abortion, as a right to self- determination over their own bodies. In the first issue of Revolutionarer Zorn (Revolutionary Rage) the RZ subdivided their actions into three main categories: 1)anti-imperialist actions, 2)actions against the branches, establishments, and accomplices of Zionism in the FRG, and 3)actions supporting the struggles of workers, wimmin and youth, and attacking and punishing their enemies. This thematic spectrum was used in the following years.
One Revolutionary Cell became several Revolutionary Cells. Later on, in the late 70's, the militant actions by the RZ became also a part of the anti-nuclear movement (at that time people marched in thousands against nuclear power and reprocessing plants in Kalkar, Wyhl, Gorleban, and Brokdorf) and the Anti-Runway 18 West Movement (Anti- Startbahn 18 West-Bewegung) in the Rhein-Main area. In this context, only one attack with deadly consequence was carried out: the Minister of Economy and Transportation, Herbert Karry, was assassinated on May 11, 1981 by the RZ.
From 1977 onwards, the militant feminist anti-patriarchal wimmin's urban guerilla group Rote Zora (Red Zora) acted autonomously and independently, though some wimmin still participated in the Revolutionary Cells."Wimmin were always a part of the armed groups. Their portion was mostly held back. But the times are changing...subversive wimmin's groups like Red Zora do exist, indeed still too few, but even that will be changing."--Red Zora.
Red Zora attacks predominantly patriarchal institutes, companies, and persons representing and building up a male sexist society, which is oppressing and exploiting wimmin worldwide. They are conducting campaigns against porntraders, sex shops, international traders of wimmin (those who profit from importing Asian wimmin as "brides" for West German men), doctors who are carrying out forced sterilizations, the Doctor's Guild ("We see the Federal Doctor's Guild as exponents of rape in white trenchcoats"), drug companies (notably Schering who produced the birth defect causing drug Duogynon), as well as computer companies such as Nixdorf and the multinational Siemens. Very popular as well was the illegal reprinting of bus and streetcar fares. In individual cases, Red Zora and the Revolutionary Cells have worked together such as in the writing of a critique of the peace movement in 1984. In this paper they criticised the peace movement as a bourgeois movement with an apocalyptic vision. The RZ and Red Zora said that the major mistake of the peace movement was to concentrate their political goal only on the pres- ervation of peace in the metropoles instead of discussing the imperialist context between armament and crisis; Third World misery and social cutbacks; sexism and racism.
In the last three years the RZ have concentrated their actions on the issue of West German foreigner and refugee policies."We want to contribute to the recovery of a concrete anti-imperialism in the FRG...Anti-imperialism doesn't mean only attacks on the military industrial complex and it is more than just solidarity with liberation movements worldwide."(Quote from Revolutionary Rage, October 1986).
Attacks such as the one on the Center for the Central Register of Foreigners in Cologne on the one hand, or the kneecapping of Hollenburg (Chief of Immigration Police in West Berlin) show the wide field of these militant politics. While those who are attacked are responsible for the racisr refugee policies in the FRG and West Berlin, the intention of the attacks on institutions, whose doc- uments, files, and data are being destroyed, is to procure a space which isn't controlled or regulated by the state. "But our actions will fizzle out ineffectually, if they don't contribute to a development of a new beginning of anti-imperialism within the radical left"(Quote by the RZ).
Since the early 70's, the RZ and Red Zora have launched over 200 attacks. Red Zora's most comprehensive and successful attack campaign so far has been the deposit of incendiary bombs in ten branches of the Adler Corporation, one of West Germany's largest clothing manufacturers selling discount clothing in the FRG, produced by low paid wimmin in South Korean and Sri Lankan factories. "The wimmin at Adler in South Korea struggle against the exploitation of their capacity for work and are putting up a fight against the daily sexism. They call for support from the FRG for their struggle. As a result, the shitty living and working conditions of wimmin in the vacuous production centers of the three continents and especially those of Adler in South Korea and Sri Lanka are becoming more widely known here through leaflets, events, and actions in front of Adler's retail centers. In these actions, anti-imperialism can be practical."(Quote from Red Zora, in their Adler statement.)
In a later released statement from Red Zora, the consideration was again concretized that the attacks were the correct strategy:"Consciousness had already been raised through the leaflet actions organized by human rights groups (Terre des Femmes) and independent church groups. So preparatory work had been done. The wimmin in South Korea have taken control of and defended their own situation."They went on strike to protest low minimum wages, lay offs, deplorable work conditions, and rampant sexism from West German foremen."So it was possible that the struggle there (by the wimmin in South Korea) and the struggle here (by Red Zora) are compatible. We aren't fighting for the wimmin in the Third World,"they said,"we're fighting alongside them." This defines Red Zora's struggle against imperialism.
In 1987, when Red Zora and their sister group in West Berlin, the Amazonen, fire bombed ten Adler outlets throughout West Germany, they caused millions of dollars in damages. Because of this, Adler was forced to meet the demands of the textile workers. Red Zora and the Amazonen clearly proved that militant resistance can be very effective.
Both the Revolutionary Cells and Red Zora have anti- authoritarian structures and a decentralized decision- making process for choosing targets. As well, they point out that militant direct actions are just one part of the revolutionary movement. Although they participate in extensive and far-reaching legal work campaigns and social movements through their militant actions, these actions aren't of any more importance to handing out flyers or leaflets, going to demonstrations, having sit-ins, publishing newspapers, educating people, squatting houses, or organizing strikes at work. "We don't have a hierarchical system for choosing actions. Thinking in hierarchical divisions puts actions in a perspective of priveledge and is prone to a patriarchal way of thinking."(Quote by members of the RZ in an interview that appeared in Autonomie, 1980.)
Besides the RZ and Red Zora, there exists several other militant autonomous groups who are all integral components of the revolutionary movement in West Germany and West Berlin. Most of these groups originate from the mass social movements of the 80's. They all work independently of each other and issue political statements of their actions, much like the RZ and Red Zora, but unlike them, many of these groups haven't been around very long.
In 1986, at the peak of resistance aginst the nuclear power plant in Brokdorf and the nuclear reprocessing plant in Wackersdorf, thousands of people participated in demon- strations as a part of the anti-nuclear movement. During this time, several hundred attacks were made by militant autonomous cells against certain companies and corporations to protest their involvement in the nuclear industry. The most popular activity at this time was sawing down electric power lines that were directly connected to the nuclear power plants. Around 2-300 attacks were made. Some of the militant autonomous groups from this period have survived into the present. Others have disbanded and have gone on th influence and form other groups. Following is a list of a few of these groups. It would be impossible to name all of them.
-Revolutionare Handwerker: involved in direct actions against nuclear plants by sawing down electric power lines. No longer active.
-Amazonen: Sister group of Red Zora, but independent of them.
Two people are currently in jail for being members of the
-Zornige Viren: on January 2, 1989, attacked the Gen-Institut (Gene Institute) at the University of Darmstadt causing DM2,000,000 in damages.
-Autonome Zellen Alois Sonnenleitner (AS): autonomous anti- nuclear cell. Destroyed excavators, trucks, and building site of Hofmeister AG (an NPP company) by setting fire to them. Alois Sonnenleitner was an elderly man who was killed in Wackersdorf by the cops in 1986. Still active.
-Revolutionare Viren: fighting gene technology, human genetics, and biotechnology.
-Anti-rassistische Zellen: carrying out actions against Shell.
-Kampfende Einheiten: "Fighting Units".Anti-imperialist cells
attacking military industrial complexes. One cell, Kampf- ende Einheit Crespo Cepa Galende, named itself after an ETA (Basque guerilla organization) fighter who was killed by the Spanish authorities. Made an attack on a border police security building.
The militant direct action groups in West Germany and West Berlin have received widespread support from the larger movements there, including from some of the more liberal organizations. This is partially because the underground cells are dependent on the larger movements and, as well, are active in them. Their actions address issues that many people are already educated on and sympathetic to. For example, Red Zora has gained wide popular support because their actions appeal to the massive feminist movement already existing in West Germany, where the leftist and radical media has been doing much work for some time now to educate the public on issues involving sexism, wimmin's oppression and exploitation, and wimmin's rights to the control of their own bodies. While the RZ doesn't claim as much support as Red Zora, in 1987, supporters of the Revolutionary Cells published the book Der Weg zum Erfolg (The Way to Success), explaining their strategies, politics, and actions. Less than a week after the book hit the shelves of radical bookstores, the entire printing (around 3000) was sold out.
The high degree of effectiveness of many RZ and Red Zora actions wouldn't be possible without popular support. By themselves, their actions would only serve to alienate them from the struggle. Moreover, with the support of the mass movements, members of the RZ and Red Zora are able to work among the numbers of people active in the struggle without exposing their underground identities. In their herstory, only one womyn has been arrested for membership in Red Zora, but due to lack of evidence against her, the charges were dropped. The RZ, however, has had a few convictions over the past 16 years. Ingrid Strobl, most recently was sentenced to five years in prison on the 9th of June 1989 for being a member of the RZ. Her sentence is the longest issued to any of the convicted RZ members. While prisoner support is an important task that consumes a great amount of time, most of the work is done by the larger movement, and the RZ and Red Zora can continue organ- izing actions against oppressive, imperialist companies and corporations.
Other revolutionaries sentenced to prison:
-Erik Prauss and Andrea Sievering: accused of membership in the "terrorist" organisation, Red Army Faction (RAF),and a bombing of Dornier, a war corporation, which caused 1.3 million DM in damages.
Each was sentenced to 9 years in prison on January 18, 1989.
-Norbert Hofmeier, Barbara Perau, Thomas Thoene, and Thomas Richter: accused of membership in the RAF and a bombing. Sentenced all together to 32 years on January 20, 1989. Sentencing judge (Arend) also sentenced Ingrid Strobl.
Hofmeier-10 years, Perau-9, Thoene-9, Richter-4.
In both of the trials involving the mentioned people, the BAW (Federal State Prosecutors) and the judges were alledging that the accused people were members of the RAF, but this was the false claim of the court to get these people stiffer sentences. Both attacks (the one at Dornier, and the other at the border police security building) were claimed by the Kampfende Einheiten. This group works independently from the RAF. But since the RAF is defined as a "terrorist" organization by the state, conviction as a member can carry a longer sentence. Kampfende Einheiten isn't defined as such and would not be subjected to as heavy a sentence. So the BAW and the judges set up the construct of the Whole-RAF (Gesamt-RAF) and claimed that Kampfende Einheiten is a part of the RAF.
At the trial of Erik and Andrea, Eva-Haule Frimpong, an imprisoned member of the RAF, stated on the witness stand that "in 4 years, no one but myself has been caught from the RAF. The twelve comrades of the resistance who were supposedly arrested since then (the six from Kiefernstrasse nor the people from Stuttgart) were not organized in the RAF." (Quote by Eva on November 29, 1989).
-Fritz Storim: sentenced to one year in prison. A teacher, accused of supporting the RAF. Supposedly a member of the autonomous newsjournal SABOT.