Josef Bachmann

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Josef Erwin Bachmann (12 October 1944 Reichenbach im Vogtland, Saxony – 24 February 1970) became widely known in Germany for his assassination attempt on the student movement leader Rudi Dutschke, firing three bullets at him, on 11 April 1968. Bachmann was convicted of the attack and sentenced to seven years in prison. He committed suicide in 1970 while serving his sentence.

Early life[edit]

Bachmann was born on 12 October 1944 and grew up in East Germany in a family situation that had been described as difficult. In 1956, he left the GDR with his mother for West Germany and settled in Peine, Lower Saxony. Considered a poor student, he began to finance his lifestyle with a series of break-ins. He moved around frequently and changed jobs multiple times. In 1966 he was convicted for break-ins he committed in France.[1]

In 1968 he moved to Munich, searching for work. While in Munich, he had heard of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.. This inspired him to assassinate Dutschke, whom he disliked for "being a communist".[2]

In 2009 it emerged that Bachmann had contact with an active cell of Neonazis in Peine starting in 1961 and that he participated in shooting practice with them.[1]


Bachmann left his place of work in Munich on 10 April 1968 and travelled by train to Berlin. On his departure he told his fellow workers that they would hear about him in the media soon.

On the afternoon of 11 April, Bachmann approached the residence of Dutschke on Kurfürstendamm 140. Seeing Dutschke leaving the building at around 4:35pm, Bachmann approached him, inquiring if he was Rudi Dutschke. On Dutschke's confirmation, Bachmann pulled his gun and shot him with three bullets, calling him a "dirty communist pig".

Bachmann fled the scene, leaving the seriously injured Dutschke behind. Bachmann went into hiding in a nearby basement, where police tracked him down. Following a shoot-out with police he was arrested. Prior to his arrest, Bachmann attempted to kill himself with sleeping pills. He was taken to a hospital to deal with the poisoning.[3][1]


Bachmann confessed to the assassination attempt and was convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison in 1969.[4]

In the attempt on his life, Dutschke suffered brain damage and had to learn to speak again. Being aware that Bachmann had attempted to kill himself, Dutschke started to converse with Bachmann in a series of letters. In this exchange, Dutschke considered suicide as cowardly. Bachmann apologised for what he had done to Dutschke.[4][5][6]

In the night of 23-24 February 1970, Bachmann committed suicide by suffocating himself with a plastic bag.[4]

In media[edit]

Bachmann was portrayed by Tom Schilling in the 2008 film Der Baader Meinhof Komplex.


  1. ^ a b c Kellerhoff, Sven Felix (6 December 2009). "Neonazi-Verbindung: Die undurchsichtige Tat des Dutschke-Schützen". Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  2. ^ Dehn, Peter (21 November 2012). "Bachmann vor Gericht". Die Zeit (in German). ISSN 0044-2070. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  3. ^ Aust, Stefan (2009). Baader-Meinhof: The Inside Story of the R.A.F. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195372755.
  4. ^ a b c "Blinder Hass auf Kommunisten: Wer war Dutschke-Attentäter Josef Bachmann?". Berliner Zeitung (in German). 10 April 2018. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  5. ^ Mohr, Reinhard (6 December 2009). "Enthüllung über Dutschke-Attentäter: Schrecken aus dem braunen Sumpf". Der Spiegel. Retrieved 29 May 2020.
  6. ^ Gessler, Philipp (10 December 2009). "Dutschke-Biograf über Attentäter: "Ein fürchterliches Erwachen"". Taz. Retrieved 29 May 2020.