Captive to Freedom: Urban Guerrillas and the West German State in the 1970s


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This project investigates both official and public reactions to the spate of anti-state violence carried out by leftwing extremists in West Germany throughout the 1970s. Although militant organizations such as the Rote Armee Fraktion (Red Army Faction, or RAF) grossly underestimated the willingness of the general public to tolerate violence as a legitimate political means, and thus failed to incite class revolution in West Germany, their actions sparked a proliferation of discourses on the nature of democracy and state power. This study examines the ways in which urban guerilla violence threatened the governability of a nation endeavoring to establish a democratic order defined explicitly in contrast to its communist neighbor, and liberated from the burdens of its own Nazi past.