Georg von Rauch
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Georg von Rauch
|Died||4 December 1971 (aged 24)|
|Organization||Movement 2 June|
Georg von Rauch was born in Marburg. His father, the historian Georg von Rauch, was a university lecturer in philosophy at Marburg University. The family moved to Kiel, where Rauch passed the Abitur in 1966 and started studying philosophy at Kiel University. Also in 1966, he married the painter Illo Wittlich, who gave birth to a daughter in 1967.
Moving to Berlin and radicalisation
The heated climate of the German student movement following the shooting of Benno Ohnesorg on 2 June 1967 made Rauch move to Berlin in order to participate in the political protests originating from Freie Universität. He joined the Socialist German Student Union and was engaged in several left-wing protests in favour of a better education policy and against the Vietnam War, which led to his radicalisation.
During this period, Rauch lived in a commune in Berlin-Charlottenburg in an apartment rented by lawyer and left-wing radical Otto Schily, who later became German Interior Minister. The group called itself Wieland-Kommune after the notorious Kommune 1 and had Michael Baumann as one of its leading figures. The philosophy of Wieland-Kommune saw a merger of socialism and Hippie culture, including the use of drugs and the embracing of the sexual revolution. Livelihood was achieved by illegal printing and sale of socialist literature and shoplifting (which was called "proletarian shopping").
The attempted murder of student leader Rudi Dutschke on 11 April 1968 and the May revolts in France led Rauch and some other members of Wieland-Kommune to break with the German state system and they started attacking it. With the example of the Tupamaros in Uruguay, a group of urban guerrillas was founded, the West Berlin Tupamaros, which later became the Movement 2 June. Rauch was an active member and committed a series of serious crimes.
Imprisonment, escape and death
After having beaten up a journalist together with Michael Baumann and Thomas Weissbecker, von Rauch was arrested on 2 February 1970. He was held imprisoned as a suspect until his court trial started in summer 1971. When the sentence was proclaimed on 8 July 1971, von Rauch fled the court in Berlin-Moabit by changing roles with Weisbecker (who was freed of all charges) in an act that was never fully explained.
On 5 December of the same year, von Rauch was caught in Berlin-Schöneberg by plainclothes policemen. A shootout ensued, during which von Rauch was mortally hit in the head. According to the police, the shootout was begun by von Rauch and his accomplices, which was questioned by left-wing supporters, who claimed that no gun had been found with him. In a later interview with Der Spiegel weekly news magazine, Michael Baumann (who was also on the scene) stated that both sides had started shooting simultaneously.
Von Rauch was buried in Kiel.
Immediately after his death von Rauch was regarded as a martyr by supporters. The remaining members of his underground organisation founded the Movement 2 June, the anarchist counterpart of the Red Army Faction. The squatters of the Bethanien Hospital in Berlin-Kreuzberg renamed it to Georg-von-Rauch-Haus in his honour. Rio Reiser, member of the band Ton Steine Scherben wrote a song about this house, the Rauch-Haus-Song.
- Ingrid Gilcher-Holtey, A Revolution of Perception ? Consequences and Echoes of 1968, Berghahn Books, 2014, p. 79.