Gladbeck hostage crisis
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|Gladbeck hostage crisis|
|Date||16–18 August 1988|
|bank robbery, hostage taking|
|Perpetrators||Dieter Degowski, Hans-Jürgen Rösner|
The Gladbeck hostage crisis was a hostage-taking crisis in that happened in August 1988 after an armed bank raid in Gladbeck, Germany. Two men with prior criminal records, Dieter Degowski and Hans-Jürgen Rösner, went on the run for two days through Germany and the Netherlands.
On 18 August 1988 the hostage situation was put to an end in a police operation on the A3 motorway. Three people were killed during this crisis. The whole episode became a media circus in Germany and the Netherlands.
In the morning two armed and hooded offenders broke into a branch of the Deutsche Bank in the district of Rentford-Nord in Gladbeck before opening hours.
At 8:04 am an emergency call was made by a witness to the police. A parked police car was seen by the offenders as they left the branch. They went back into the bank and took two clerks hostage, demanding a car and ransom money, firing their guns into the air several times.
A radio station were the first to conduct an interview with them as the hostage crisis was happening. After several hours of negotiations the abductors were given 300,000 DM and a white Audi 100 as a getaway car. At 9:45 pm the getaway started. Marion Löblich, the girlfriend of Hans-Jürgen Rösner (who was one of the robbers), boarded the car in Gladbeck.
After driving on the Autobahn to Bremen, the abductors stopped in the district of Huckelriede and hijacked a public-transit bus with 32 passengers at 7:00 pm on 17 August. The media interviewed the abductors and the hostages without any interference from the police. Some hostages even had a pistol pressed against their throats.
After the release of five hostages, the bus was driven to the Autobahn service area of Grundbergsee. The two bank clerks were released there.
Two police officers arrested Löblich, who was using the toilet. Demanding an exchange, Degowski and Rösner threatened to kill a hostage every 5 minutes. After the expiration of the ultimatum they shot a 15-year-old Italian boy in the head. Löblich was about to be released by the police on demand of the abductors but arrived too late because of a broken handcuff key and bad communication of the police. However, the boy died after 20 minutes because there was no ambulance attending the situation.
After this incident the bus was driven to the Netherlands. During the chase a police car collided with a truck, leaving one police officer dead and another injured.
At 2:30 pm on August 18, 1988, the bus entered the Netherlands. At 5:15 pm two women and three children were released, after the Dutch police refused to negotiate if children were held hostage. At 6:30 pm Rösner and Degowski got a BMW 735i. The getaway car had been prepared by the police so that the engine could be stopped by remote control. While attempting to escape, Löbich and the bus driver were injured.
During a stop in Wuppertal the abductors went shopping in a pharmacy.
After having stopped in a pedestrian area in Cologne at 11:00am, the car was surrounded by media and shoppers. Some reporters offered to guide the abductors on their way or to hand them pictures of police officers to prevent trickery if hostages were exchanged. A reporter guided the abductors to a nearby rest area on an Autobahn and accompanied them for several kilometers.
On the A3 close to Bad Honnef, a few kilometres before the state border between North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate, a police car crashed into the getaway car at 12:00am. This led to a gunfight and the death of one of the hostages. After that the abductors were arrested.
The remote control to stop the car engine was not used since the police officers had forgotten to take it with them. Across the state border, a special task force (GSG9) was in position waiting to take action.
On 22 March, 1991 Rösner and Degowski were pronounced guilty by the regional superior court of Essen and received life sentences. Löblich was sentenced to 9 years. In 2002 the Higher Court in Hamm ascertained "guilt of a very serious nature" and Degowski's sentence was increased to 24 years . In 2004 the same Higher Court refused an application for parole and a request by Rösner to shorten his sentence. The court also declared a state of "preventive detention" ("Sicherungsverwahrung") and therefore Rösner is unlikely to be freed after the end of his sentence.
On 20 November, 1988 the Minister of the Interior of Bremen Bernd Meyer resigned over mistakes by the police.
Conduct of the media
This was the first incident in Germany with direct interference by representatives of the media. The media were severely criticized for their handling of this situation and for conducting interviews with hostages.
References in the media
The German dark wave band Silke Bischoff was named after one of the hostages. They later split as a band, though two original members continued making music together, but had to change their band name for legal reasons. Their band is called 18 Summers, referring to the girl's age when she was killed. The song Hostage on Mike Oldfield's album Earth Moving includes an authentic sample of a news broadcast on German radio referring to the event.
- http://www.presserat.de/1980-1989.115.0.html Deutscher Presserat Dokumentation in German
- Deutsche Welle: The Gladbeck Hostage Drama
- NY Times: Hostage Dies as German Drama Ends, published on 8/19/88
- NY Times: Killings in German Hostage Incident Stir Dispute, published on 8/28/88
- http://rhein-zeitung.de/on/98/08/11/topnews/glad1.html Ten years after. News story with pictures and links (German)
- http://www.focus.de/panorama/welt/gladbeck-ich-war-feige_aid_323612.html (German)