August 25, 1947
|Died||July 19, 2016
|Organization||Movement 2 June|
Michael "Bommi" Baumann (August 25, 1947 – July 19, 2016) was one of the founders of the German organization Movement 2 June, author of a memoir, and a former militant.
Baumann was a construction worker. His nickname derives from his favorite drink, Bommi mit Pflaume (plum-flavoured spirit), although it is often wrongly attributed to his occasional preference for explosives during student unrests.
In the 1960s, he got in touch with the West Berlin student movement and with Kommune 1. His views became more radical after various experiences with police, media and bureaucracy. After the death of Benno Ohnesorg on 2 June 1967, he started to espouse violence as a means of political struggle. Unlike many students in the SDS (German Socialist Student Union), he also stressed the importance of "direct action" and Kampf in den Metropolen (combat in the metropolises) to support guerrilla warfare in the third world.
After arson attacks against a British airline, which had flown young German Military deserters from West Berlin into West Germany, where they would have faced trial, Baumann had to spend some months in prison from February 1970 to summer 1971. With his friend Georg von Rauch, he joined the Zentralrat der umherschweifenden Haschrebellen ("Central Council of Rambling Hashish Rebels"), one of the organisations that founded the Movement 2 June. The police tried to arrest von Rauch for driving a stolen car, and shot him at the scene. After this incident, Baumann decided to end his participation in urban guerrilla warfare, but he was sought by police as an accomplice.
In 1972 he escaped and traveled to various countries, including Syria, Iran, Afghanistan and India. In 1974 he abjured violence in an interview with the news magazine Der Spiegel. His quotation "Freunde, schmeißt die Knarre weg" (Friends, throw away your gat/gun) became well-known in his political circles. In 1975 his autobiography Wie alles anfing ("How it all began") was published (translated as Terror or Love? in 1979). In it he describes his personal evolution into a proponent of urban guerrilla warfare, and comments critically on armed struggle. This edition, from the Munich publishers Trikont, was seized by police after its appearance because of its supposed incitement to violence. A nationwide search was ordered immediately. In 1976, however, more than 300 left-wing writers and publishers from several European countries, some of them quite prominent, united to protest this censorship. They published an unchanged new edition, which could be sold without problems.
In 1981, Baumann was arrested in London and sentenced to a five-year imprisonment for bank robbery and bombing. While in prison, he wrote another autobiographical book, which appeared after he was released. When documents of the former East Germany were made accessible by the Stasi Records Agency after the German reunification, it became known that in 1973, Baumann had written a 125-page report to the East German Ministry for State Security (Stasi) about 94 people within the armed struggle movement, including information on assaults, attacks, weapons, and sexual preferences. Beyond that, 165 pages of interrogation records exist on Baumann. During a period of six weeks, Baumann shared his insider knowledge in 114 hours of interrogation. He died on July 19, 2016.
- Bommi Baumann: Wie alles anfing ("How it All Began") 1975, ISBN 3-88022-061-1
- Bommi Baumann: Hi Ho. Wer nicht weggeht, kommt nicht wieder ("Hi Ho. If you don't go away, you can't come back") 1987, ISBN 3-455-08655-1
- Bommi Baumann/Till Meyer: Radikales Amerika ("Radical America") 2007, ISBN 3-86789-010-2
- Bommi Baumann: Rausch und Terror. Ein persönlicher Erlebnisbericht ("Frenzy and Terror. A personal report") 2008, ISBN 3-86789-036-6
- Bommi Baumann: Terror or Love? 1979, ISBN 0-7145-3782-9
- Bommi Bauman: "How it all Began: The Personal Account of a West German Urban Guerrilla," reissued 1981, ISBN 978-0-88978-045-3, Arsenal Pulp Press
- Der Spiegel, 11 February 1974, page 32: "Freunde, schmeißt die Knarre weg"
- Wolfgang Kraushaar: "Unsere unterwanderten Jahre," Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 7 April 1998, page 45
- Mitbegründer der "Bewegung 2. Juni" – "Bommi" Baumann gestorben, Tagesschau.de, July 20, 2016