Robert Graves was half-German and his uncle Von Ranke was Germany's most famous historian in the late nineteenth century, who coined the phrase "wie es eigentlich gesehen ist" or "how it really was" to define the task of the true historian. The movie on the Baader Meinhof Gang, who was a fact of the seventies that all Germans found hard to ignore, are now depicted in Von Ranke's terms, but the perspicacious reviewer of the flick who teaches at St. Francis College in Brooklyn finds that somehow a Herr Aust, who was the progenitor of the film as the ultimate verisimilitude of how it really was, actually failed to either find or depict some salient facts. As the reviewer notes:
Where the film falls down has to do with the name that the gang gave itself: the Red Army Faction (RAF). With the Soviet army camped nearby, notes writer Paul Berman, the RAF saw itself as an extension of the Soviet cause, which during the 1970s seemed far from hopeless. The RAF even received funds and logistical support from the East German secret police, the Stasi. As the historian Jeffrey Herf puts it, the gang’s exploits thus constitute “an episode in the history of Communism”; through it, the USSR got an enormous return on its investment in the German New Left. But the role of the Stasi barely surfaces in Aust’s film. Since the movie’s completion, moreover, historians working in the East German archives have discovered that the cop who killed Ohnesorg at the protest was working for the Stasi. And as Aust told me himself with some excitement, the two photographers who captured Ohnesorg’s last moments also had links to the Stasi.
The Stasi was also the crucial intermediary between the RAF and Palestinian terrorists and between older forms of anti-Semitism and its newer incarnation as anti-Zionism. The film touches only in passing on the anti-Semitism of parts of the New Left. But RAF members were pathbreakers here as well. In the wake of the Palestinian massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics, notes Herf, Meinhof became the first public figure in post-Holocaust Germany to describe the murder of Jews as an anti-fascist act.
When I spoke with Aust, who still sees himself as a man of the Left, I asked him if he had read the German left-wing author Mattias Kuntzel’s book on the close ties between the Nazis and both the Muslim Brotherhood and the founder of the Palestinian movement, Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. He had not. When I suggested that the book might have given him a crucial perspective on the RAF, about whom he’s been writing for over 30 years, he replied, “Possibly.”
His reply led me to wonder what the film might have been like had Aust acknowledged, say, the links between the RAF and Francois Genoud, the neo-Nazi executor of Goebbels’s will who was dubbed “Sheik Francois” by some of the Palestinian terror leaders he worked with. Similarly, a film so deeply concerned with accusations of resurgent Nazism might have noted that Horst Mahler, one of the central players in the RAF, began on the neo-Nazi Right, joined the RAF, and since his release from prison has again become a full-fledged neo-Nazi.
Aust’s book on the RAF, first published in 1985, has gone through three revisions as new information became available. His movie deserves viewing, but it also merits, or perhaps even demands, a similar updating.
Okay, so some of the facts "surfaced" after the completion of the film, but how the connection between Palestinian terrorists and the Nazis was so well known that Meinhof's specious claim might have been put in the context of the Grand Mufti's devotion to Hitler. If the enemy of my enemy is my friend, the absurd calculus comes out that Hitler is Meinhof's friend, since they both hate Jews as their enemy. And Horst Mahler's neo-Nazi background before and after his B-M Gang incarnation, how is that not relevant? If Von Ranke is your guideline, breaking a storyline ain't as important as tellin' it like it is.
Maybe Robert Graves was right in the end of Goodbye to All That when he first noted that the Brits had fought on the wrong side, since the Froggies [or whatever pejorative he used] were insufferable. But then he noted that the Germans "had to be treated like dogs, either they are completely under control or they try to control everything....nothing in between" or words to that effect. I'm sure the spirit of his deceased great-uncle was perturbed, but German insubordination resurfaced a second time with Hitler and a second conflict exhausted Europe so that it is now an energy satrapy of Russia and economically unsustainable. But Putin, who may have been "running" Stasi operations like Baader Meinhof when he was KGB czarovitch in East Germany, now has ex-Prime Minister Schroeder safely on a leash sitting on his haunches and walking beside him when Vlad says "heel." How much longer, now that Brobambi has ceded American sovereignty to the UN, Russia, Iran, and resolutely opposes the visa for President Michelletti of Honduras to visit the UN, will the US not resist having the UN take over our status as the world currency of choice with a new "international currency."
If he's as spineless as he was on the missile shield, the Europeans may yet cede sovereignty to Russia, at least in its eastern members of the EU.