Terrorism in Germany

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GSG9 team returning in 1977 after liberating the passengers of Lufthansa Flight 181

Germany has experienced significant terrorism in its history, particularly during the Weimar Republic and during the Cold War, carried out by far-left and far-right German groups as well as by foreign terrorist organisations.

In recent years, both far left, far right and Islamist groups have been suspected of terrorism or terrorism plans.

Weimar Republic[edit]

Germany's loss in the First World War resulted in a chaotic situation, with multiple far-left and far-right organisations attempting to seize power. Both the far left and the far right organised their own militias, and carried out assassinations. For example, the Foreign Minister Walther Rathenau was assassinated in 1922 by a far-right group. Members of the Communist Party of Germany assassinated police captains Paul Anlauf and Franz Lenck in Berlin in 1931.

Islamic terrorism[edit]

Turkish and Kurdish Islamist groups are also active in Germany, and Turkish and Kurdish Islamists have co-operated in Germany as in the case of the Sauerland terror cell.[3] Political scientist Guido Steinberg stated that many top leaders of Islamist organizations in Turkey fled to Germany in the 2000s, and that the Turkish (Kurdish) Hizbullah has also "left an imprint on Turkish Kurds in Germany."[3] Also many Kurds from Iraq (there are about 50,000 to 80,000 Iraqi Kurds in Germany) financially supported Kurdish-Islamist groups like Ansar al Islam.[3] Many Islamists in Germany are ethnic Kurds (Iraqi and Turkish Kurds) or Turks. Before 2006, the German Islamist scene was dominated by Iraqi Kurds and Palestinians, but since 2006 Kurds and Turks from Turkey are dominant.[3]

Terrorism in (or involving) West Germany and reunified Germany[edit]

During the Cold War, especially in the 1970s, West Germany experienced severe terrorism, mostly perpetrated by far-left terrorist groups and culminating in the German Autumn of 1977, the country's most serious national crisis in postwar history. Terrorist incidents also took place in the 1980s and 1990s. Some of the terrorist groups had connections to international terrorism, notably Palestinian militant groups, and were aided and abetted by the communist regime of East Germany.

Known groups responsible for attacks in Germany
Red Army Faction

Held responsible for numerous bomb attacks, arson, kidnapping and murder of 34 people between 1970 and 1998.

Revolutionary Cells

Held responsible for 296 bomb attacks, arson and other attacks between 1973 and 1995.

Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine Black September National Socialist Underground
Tupamaros West-Berlin Movement 2 June Anti-Imperialist Cell Militante gruppe (mg) Rote Zora

List of significant terrorist incidents in Germany[edit]

Germany
Date Sub Location Deaths Injuries Type Perpetrator or motives Description
10 February 1970 Arms of the Free State of Bavaria.svg Munich 01 011 Grenade & Small arms fire PDFLP (Palestinian nationalists) -- Airports & airlines
Three terrorists attack El Al passengers in a bus at the Munich Airport with guns and grenades; one passenger is killed and 11 injured. All three terrorists were captured by airport police. The Action Organization for the Liberation of Palestine and the Popular Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine claim responsibility for the attack.[4]
11 May 1972 Coat of arms of Hesse.svg Frankfurt 01 013 Improvised Explosive Device Red Army Faction -- Government institutions (Foreign: United States Army)
A bomb explodes at the Headquarters, V Corps (US Army) in the Abrams Building (IG Farben Building) in Frankfurt, killing US Army officer Paul A. Bloomquist and injuring a further 13.[5][6]
24 May 1972 Coat of arms of Baden-Württemberg (lesser).svg Heidelberg 03 005 Car bomb Red Army Faction -- Government institutions (Foreign: United States Army)
Two large car bombs are detonated at the US Army Supreme European Command within the Campbell Barracks in Heidelberg, killing three. The dead are identified as Ronald A. Woodward, Charles L. Peck and Captain Clyde R. Bonner[5][6][7][8]
5 September 1972 Arms of the Free State of Bavaria.svg Munich 17
(5 perps.)
- Hostage taking

(2 days)

Black September (Palestinian nationalists) -- Olympic Games
Eight armed terrorists stage an attack during the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, West Germany on 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team, who were taken hostage and eventually killed, along with a German police officer. Five of the attackers also died in the raid to free the hostages.[9][10][11][12]
7 April 1977 Coat of arms of Baden-Württemberg (lesser).svg Karlsruhe 03 - Small arms fire Red Army Faction -- Government institutions
Shortly after 9:00 CET, a motorcycle pulls up next to the car of Germany's chief federal prosecutor, Siegfried Buback, a stoplight on the outskirts of Karlsruhe in western Germany. The motorcycle passenger proceedes to fire at least 15 bullets into the car. Buback and his 30-year-old driver Wolfgang Göbel die at the scene; the head of the chauffeur service Georg Wurster, 33, succumbs to his injuries six days later.[13]
30 July 1977 Coat of arms of Hesse.svg Oberursel 01 - Small arms fire Red Army Faction -- Business
Jürgen Ponto, the head of Dresdner Bank, is shot and killed in his house in Oberursel. It is thought that three assailants attempted to kidnap Ponto, and after he resisted they shot him. He was shot five times and later died of his serious wounds. Susanne Albrecht, the daughter of a good friend of the Pontos, was later identified as one of the attackers.[14]
5 September 1977 Coat of arms of North Rhine-Westfalia.svg Cologne 05 - Small arms fire Red Army Faction -- Business
A group of armed terrorists attack the chauffeured car carrying Hanns Martin Schleyer, then president of the German employers' association, in Cologne. Four masked RAF members sprayed bullets into the two vehicles, killing Marcisz and a police officer, Roland Pieler. The driver of the police escort vehicle, Reinhold Brändle, and a third police officer, Helmut Ulmer, were also killed.
Schleyer was abducted and held prisoner in an apartment in a residential neighborhood near Cologne. He was forced to appeal to the West German government under Helmut Schmidt for several RAF members -- then imprisoned -- to be exchanged for him. On 18 October 1977, three of the imprisoned RAF members were found dead in their cells. In response, Schleyer was shot dead en route to Mulhouse, France, where his body was left in an Audi 100.[15]
27 September 1980 Arms of the Free State of Bavaria.svg Munich 12
(one perp.)
213 Suicide bombing Gundolf Köhler -- Private citizens & property
A bomb detonates at the Oktoberfest fairgrounds in Theresienwiese, Munich, killing twelve and injuring over two hundred more. The dead include the alleged bomber Gundolf Kohler, a member of the neo-Nazi Military Sport Group Hoffman.[16][17]
15 January 1982 Country symbol of Berlin color.svg Berlin 01 025 Improvised Explosive Device Palestinian nationalists -- Private citizens & property
An explosion at the Mifgash-Israel, a Jewish owned restaurant in West Berlin, injures 25 people. An infant girl, who was in critical condition after the blast, later dies of her injuries.[18]
25 August 1983 Country symbol of Berlin color.svg Berlin 02 023 Improvised Explosive Device ASALA (Armenian nationalists) -- Diplomatic (French)
A bomb detonates on the fifth floor of the six-story French consulate building in West Berlin, causing extensive damage on the floor below, in which the consulate offices and a visitor's lounge were situated. The 11:20am explosion collapsed sections of the front facade and attic and catapulted parts of interior walls to the street below, although all dead and injured had all been inside the building.[19]
1 February 1985 Arms of the Free State of Bavaria.svg Munich 01 - Small arms fire Red Army Faction -- Business
Head of the Federal Union of German Aerospace and Heavy Industries (BDLI), Ernst Zimmermann, is shot once in the head by a man with a sub-machine gun. The assailant forced his way into the industrialist's home in suburban Munich after his wife opened the door for a woman allegedly claiming to have a letter for Mr. Zimmermann.[20]
19 June 1985 Coat of arms of Hesse.svg Frankfurt 03 042 Improvised Explosive Device - -- Airports & airlines
A powerful bomb rips through an international departure lounge of the Frankfurt Airport, killing three people and wounding 42. The dead include a man and two children, and of the many injured, 18 were hospitalized. The explosive device, which the police said appeared to have been placed among seated passengers waiting for their flights, blasted a large hole in the cement floor of the airport terminal, then one of the busiest in Europe.[21][22]
8 August 1985 Coat of arms of Hesse.svg Rhein-Main Air Base 02 020 Car bomb Red Army Faction & Action Directe -- Government institutions (Foreign: United States Army)
A car bomb explodes outside the headquarters building at the Rhein-Main Air Base, where members of the United States Armed Forces are stationed, killing two Americans and wounding about 20 people.
The dead were Airman Frank H. Scarton, 19, who was serving with the 437th Military Airlift Wing, and Becky Jo Bristol, the wife of Senior Airman John Bristol, who wss with the Medical Airlift Squadron at the base.[5][23]
4 April 1986 Country symbol of Berlin color.svg Berlin 03 231 Improvised Explosive Device Libyan agents -- Private Citizens & Property
A bomb placed on the dance-floor of the La Belle Discotheque, popular with United States military personnel, explodes, killing 3 and injuring hundreds more. Two of the dead were members of the United States military.[24]
9 July 1986 Arms of the Free State of Bavaria.svg Munich 02 - Improvised Explosive Device Red Army Faction -- Business
The physicist Karl-Heinz Beckurts, director of research and technology at the Siemens electronic company, and a driver are killed by a remote controlled bomb planted in his car in a Munich suburb.[25][26]
30 November 1989 Coat of arms of Hesse.svg Bad Homburg vor der Höhe 01 001 Improvised Explosive Device Red Army Faction -- Business
Banker Alfred Herrhausen dies instantly and his driver is seriously wounded in a blast caused by a remote controlled bomb under his vehicle. Mr. Herrhausen, who headed Deutsche Bank A.G., was described as the most powerful person in the West German economy and a dominant figure in European banking.[27]
23 November 1992 DEU Schleswig-Holstein COA.svg Mölln 03 - Incendiary device - -- Private Citizens & Property
A molotov cocktail is thrown into the house of a Turkish migrant family, destroying the property and killing three occupants. A neo-Nazi group is suspected.[28]
28 April 1993 Coat of arms of North Rhine-Westfalia.svg Solingen 05 014 Incendiary device - -- Private Citizens & Property
Four young German men (aged between 16 and 23) belonging to the far right skinhead scene, the oldest with known neo-Nazi ties, set fire to the house of a large Turkish family in Solingen in North Rhine-Westphalia. Three girls and two women died; fourteen other family members, including several children, were injured, some of them severely.[29][30]
9 June 2004 Coat of arms of North Rhine-Westfalia.svg Cologne - 022 Pipe bomb National Socialist Underground -- Private Citizens & Property
25 April 2007 Coat of arms of Baden-Württemberg (lesser).svg Heilbronn 01 001 Small arms fire National Socialist Underground -- Government institutions (Police)
2 March 2011 Coat of arms of Hesse.svg Frankfurt 02 002 Small arms fire Arid Uka

(Islamist)

-- Government institutions (Foreign: United States Army)
An immigrant from Kosovo fires upon a United States Air Force bus, killing two and wounding two. At the time of the attack the vehicle is parked outside the terminal building waiting to transport 15 U.S. airmen to Ramstein Air Base. The attacker first shoots an airman outside the vehicle, and then enters the bus, shooting and killing the driver and firing three shots at two other airmen, wounding them.[31][32][33]
17 September 2015 Country symbol of Berlin color.svg Berlin 01
(one perp.)
001 Knife attack Rafik Mohamad Yousef

(Islamist)

-- Government institutions (Police)
A 41-year-old self-proclaimed Islamist was shot dead in Berlin after he severely stabbed and injured a policewoman in an incident on a public street in Berlin.[34]


26 February 2016 Coat of arms of Lower Saxony.svg Hanover - 001 Knife attack to neck Safia S.

(Islamist)

-- Government institutions (Police)
A policeman was severely injured by a 15-year old girl, Safia S., who was acting "on behalf of the Islamic State" [35][36]
19 July 2016 Arms of the Free State of Bavaria.svg Würzburg 01
(one perp.)
005 Axe attack Riaz Khan Ahmadzai (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) -- Private Citizens & Property
24 July 2016 Arms of the Free State of Bavaria.svg Ansbach 01
(one perp.)
012 Suicide bombing Mohammad Daleel (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) -- Private Citizens & Property
19 December 2016 Country symbol of Berlin color.svg Berlin 12 056 Truck attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant -- Private Citizens & Property
11 April 2017 Coat of arms of North Rhine-Westfalia.svg Dortmund 00 003 Explosives Profit motive -- Private Citizens & Property

Significant foiled terrorism plots[edit]

List of international terrorist incidents with significant German casualties[edit]

See also[edit]

Response to terrorism[edit]

The terrorism of the 1970s has formed Germany's political culture and its policy of not negotiating with terrorists. It also led to the formation of the GSG9 counter-terrorism unit. In 1972, a law was passed, the Extremist Act (Radikalenerlass), which banned radicals or those with a 'questionable' political persuasion from public sector jobs.

In popular culture[edit]

Berlin citizens attending the funeral of assassinated police captains Paul Anlauf and Franz Lenck in 1931

A number of books and films address this topic.

Films[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • German Jihad: On the Internationalisation of Islamist Terrorism by Guido Steinberg. Columbia University Press, 2013
  1. ^ National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism. (2016). Global Terrorism Database (globalterrorismdb_0616dist.xlsx). Retrieved from https://www.start.umd.edu/gtd University of Maryland
  2. ^ National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism. (2016). Global Terrorism Database (gtd1993_0616dist.xlsx). Retrieved from https://www.start.umd.edu/gtd University of Maryland
  3. ^ a b c d *German Jihad: On the Internationalisation of Islamist Terrorism by Guido Steinberg. Columbia University Press, 2013
  4. ^ "Significant Terrorist Incidents, 1961-2003: A Brief Chronology". Office of the Historian: Bureau of Public Affairs. United States Department of State. Retrieved 8 February 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c "2 Americans killed by car bomb at USAF base in West Germany". Schenectady Gazette. 9 August 1985. Retrieved 8 February 2014. 
  6. ^ a b Varon, Jeremy (2004). Bringing the War Home: The Weather Underground, the Red Army Faction, and Revolutionary Violence in the Sixties and Seventies. University of California Press. p. 210. ISBN 9780520930957. 
  7. ^ Desmond Butler; Mark Landler (9 September 2002). "THREATS AND RESPONSES: HEIDELBERG; One Terror Plot May Have Been Foiled, but a U.S. Base in Germany Is Still Vulnerable". The New York times. Retrieved 8 February 2014. 
  8. ^ Moncourt, André. The Red Army Faction: A Documentary History. Projectiles for the people. PM Press. p. 178. ISBN 9781604861792. 
  9. ^ Juan Sanchez (7 August 2007). Terrorism & Its Effects. Global Media. p. 144. ISBN 978-81-89940-93-5. Retrieved 16 December 2012. 
  10. ^ The new dimension of international ... Google Books. 11 September 2001. Retrieved 22 June 2010. 
  11. ^ Encyclopedia of terrorism . Google Books. Retrieved 22 June 2010. 
  12. ^ The terrorist trap: America's ... Google Books. 18 July 1976. Retrieved 22 June 2010. 
  13. ^ "Who Assassinated Siegfried Buback? Germany Revisits RAF Terrorism Verdict". Der Spiegel. 23 April 2007. Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  14. ^ Heinrich August Winkler (2007). Germany: 1933-1990. Oxford University Press. p. 318. ISBN 978-0-19-926598-5. Retrieved 13 September 2013. 
  15. ^ Büchel, Helmar; Aust, Stefan (17 September 2007). "Dann gibt es Tote" (in German). Der Spiegel. 
  16. ^ "Neo nazis Arrested in Octoberfest Bombing". Beaver County Times. Associated Press. 28 September 1980. Retrieved 5 February 2014. 
  17. ^ Gerber, Larry (29 September 1980). "Neo Nazi group suspected in Munich Oktoberfest bomb". The Lewiston Daily Sun. Retrieved 6 February 2014. 
  18. ^ "Group claims responsibility for restaurant bombing". The Victoria Advocate. Associated Press. 16 January 1982. Retrieved 9 February 2014. 
  19. ^ "FRENCH CONSULATE BOMBED IN BERLIN". The New York Times. 26 August 1983. Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  20. ^ "Guerrillas Kill Top West German Arms Executive". The Glasgow Herald. 2 February 1985. Retrieved 16 February 2014. 
  21. ^ "BOMB AT FRANKFURT AIRPORT KILLS 3 AND WOUNDS 42". The New York Times. 20 June 1985. Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  22. ^ "ARAB GROUP ASSERTS IT PLANTED BOMB IN FRANKFURT". The New York Times. 22 June 1985. Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  23. ^ Tagliabue, John (9 August 1985). "CAR BOMB KILLS 2 ON A U.S. AIR BASE IN WEST GERMANY". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  24. ^ Chalk, Peter (2012). Encyclopedia of Terrorism. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO. pp. 401–402. ISBN 9780313308956. 
  25. ^ "Germans Get 3 Suspects In an Ice Cream Parlor". The New York Times. 4 August 1986. Retrieved 8 February 2014. 
  26. ^ Tagliabue, John (26 July 1986). "CAR BOMB HITS A WEST GERMAN COMPANY INVOLVED IN 'STAR WARS'". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 February 2014. 
  27. ^ Protzman, Ferdinand (1 December 1989). "Head of Top West German Bank Is Killed in Bombing by Terrorists". The New York times. Retrieved 8 February 2014. 
  28. ^ Charles Hawley; Daryl Lindsey (24 August 2012). "Twenty Years after Rostock: Racism and Xenophobia Still Prevalent in Germany". Der Spiegel. Retrieved 20 September 2015. 
  29. ^ Kinzer, Stephen (4 June 1993). "Thousands of Germans Rally for the Slain Turks". New York Times. Retrieved 20 September 2015. 
  30. ^ "Neo-Nazi Asks Forgiveness for Death of Turks". New York Times. 14 April 1994. Retrieved 20 September 2015. 
  31. ^ "US soldiers shot dead in Germany". Al Jazeera English. March 2, 2011. 
  32. ^ Pidd, Helen (3 March 2011). "Frankfurt airport shooting may have Islamist link, say police". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 6 March 2011. 
  33. ^ "Frankfurt airport shooting: Jammed gun 'saved lives'". BBC News. 4 March 2011. Retrieved 6 March 2011. 
  34. ^ "'Islamist' shot dead in Berlin after knife attack on policewoman". Deutsche Welle. 17 September 2015. Retrieved 20 September 2015. 
  35. ^ http://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/anschlag-in-hannover-jaehrige-soll-im-auftrag-des-is-polizisten-verletzt-haben-1.3011720
  36. ^ http://www.thelocal.de/20160531/teen-who-stabbed-police-officer-linked-to-isis
  37. ^ Park, Andrew (10 October 2012). "Bali bombings: Full list of victims' names". SBS Australia. Retrieved 28 June 2015. 
  38. ^ "Al-Qaeda claims Tunisia attack". BBC News. 23 June 2002. Retrieved 29 June 2015. 
  39. ^ Der Baader Meinhof Komplex vs RAF Film Chronicle by Ron Holloway, accessed 19 April 2009