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OF-R 821, was the license plate of the silver-grey ISO Rivolta which the young Andreas had stolen. The car appeared to reside in the Frankfurt suburb of Offenbach am Main, but the license plates were of course stolen from another car. Andreas loved cars and the ISO Rivolta was his trophy – there were only 50 of them in all of West Germany. It never came to drive, despite the license plates, but remained hidden in a garage. But nevertheless, Andreas did drive plenty in other cars; his full name was Andreas Bernd Baader…

The name Andreas Baader was, as we know, half of the duo which made up the Baader-Meinhof Group or the Rote Armee Fraktion as it was also known (translates into Red Army Faction – in short: RAF). He grew up with his mother and aunts during the post-war years in Munich, Germany – his father had disappeared as a prisoner of war on the eastern front. A fate his father had in common with many others, as described for example in several novels by the famous German writer Heinrich Theodor Böll: “The train was on time” (his first published novel from 1949), “And where were you, Adam” and “House without Guardians; Tomorrow and Yesterday”. Heinrich Böll – and his entire family – opposed the rise of Nazism and as a consequence, Henrich refused to join the Hitler Youth during the 1930s. When Heinrich started writing at the age of 30, he was soon being labelled by some, as the “Gewissen der Nation” (which translates into “Conscience of The Nation) due to his resistance of holding back any opportunity to talk and/or write about the many issues with Nazism and all that followed. Later, Heinrich’s conviction led to him being accused – primarily of course by the conservative press – of sympathizing with terrorism. This particular criticism was driven in large part by his repeated insistence upon the importance of due process and the correct and fair application of the law in the case of the Baader-Meinhof Group/RAF. Heinrich Böll received the Nobel Prize of Literature in 1972. He died when he was 67 years old, in 1985, near Cologne, Germany. He was, and probably still is, considered as one of Germany’s foremost post-World War II writers.

Now, back to the famed Andreas Baader…

Andreas was an unsettled young man, utterly unable to sit still at school, and eventually dropping out of school early. He wandered aimlessly around in his local neighborhood in Munich – his time was spent with petty theft and other criminal activities wherever and whenever he could get away with it. Despite not having a driver’s license, he could easily drive a car – and drive it with power, commitment and speed! Politics did not interest him the least at that time… until he met a girl, fell in love and she became his girlfriend. This girl was Gudrun Ensslin.

Gudrun, born in 1940, was a girl who had always behaved sensibly and, inter alia, been a scout leader, doing parish work such as organizing Bible studies and always being a hardworking student. But that changed, according to her father – who was a priest – when she became “erotized” and started having boyfriends. In 1962 she met Bernward Vesper (his father, Will Vesper was a pro-Nazi), got engaged with Bernward in 1965, and in May 1967 she gave birth to a baby boy: Felix Robert Ensslin. But later that year Gudrun met Andreas Baader and they soon began a love affair. Baader had come to Berlin in 1963, to escape ongoing troubles with the Munich justice system and not least to avoid conscription. The young criminal Andreas Baader, who had drifted in and out of youth detention centers and prison soon became the man of Ensslin’s life. Gudrun Ensslin left Bernward Vesper and her child for good. Soon after this, she and Andreas Baader (together with Thorwald Proll and Horst Söhnlein) decided to escalate their fight against the system.

The year was 1968…

As a protest against the Vietnam war, Andreas Baader and Gudrun Ensslin, along with Thorwald Proll and Horst Söhnlein, decided to fire bomb two Kaufhof department stores in Frankfurt (Galeria Kaufhof GmbH is a German department store chain). This was their baptism of fire!

Andreas Baader, despite the lack of a driving license, was completely obsessed with cars. He craved cars that were powerful and was for obvious reasons very fond of Porsches – but not all Porsche models; he felt that the older 356 was too slow and much preferred the 911. Bizarrely, to make any drive perfect, he liked to have a tennis racket on the passenger seat. Regardless of this odd habit, if it was not Porsche, it could also be BMW, but then preferably a 2002ti or 2800CS. He had a very selective taste in cars.

The rest of the “executive” members of RAF had the same taste in cars; BMW actually turned out to be a kind of a synonym for “Baader-Meinhof-Wagen” (translates into “Baader-Meinhof-Wagon”). Baader also decided that newcomers to the RAF could only drive an Audi 100 as the “highest ranked” car – clearly, equality was not a central part of the RAF.

Shortly before the fire bombing of 1968 in Frankfurt, the German journalist, Ulrike Meinhof, “joined the fight” and wrote in the magazine, “Konkret”:

“Protest is when I say it does not suit me. Resistance is, when I make sure that what does not suit me, no longer happens.”

She would take no more b/s… Ulrike Meinhof was fed up!

Ulrike Meinhof was married to the publisher of the extreme left-wing magazine “Konkret”, Klaus Rainer Röhl or “K2R”, as he loved to call himself. Röhl enjoyed playing the role of a playboy – always surrounding himself with admiring women, owning a villa in Blankenese (a very posh neighborhood in Hamburg) and “Konkret” gave him a Porsche 911 as a company car (here we go again… another Porsche 911!).

The Communist Party, KPD, was banned in West Germany, but Klaus Rainer Röhl was secretly a member anyway. The magazine “Konkret” was kept alive through financial support through substantial subsidies from the GDR, the labour and federal state, thus ensuring that Röhl could maintain a “somewhat tolerable life”.

Ulrike Meinhof debuted in the group during a liberation action to free Andreas Baader, who had previously been arrested after speeding in a stolen Porsche 911 (yes, another 911!!), and had furthermore identified himself with a false name and driver’s license. The escape car used for the liberation was a silver-grey Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT – not Baader’s choice, since he was in prison! But nevertheless… they managed to escape in it.

During the next couple of years, the Baader-Ensslin couple and the rest of the RAF left a bloody trail of attacks and bank robberies in their wake – as a peculiar note: their prominent victims typically drove Mercedes-Benz. The RAF actions had to be stopped and the net was tightened around them – the rest of West Germany had enough! Andreas Baader’s last drive, out of prison, was – as so many times before – in a stolen Porsche 911, this time an aubergine-colored Targa model.

An interesting note to the story is, that the Porsche 911 Targa belonged to the famous motorsport photographer, Rainer Schlegelmilch. Below is Rainer Schlegelmilch together with his recovered aubergine-colored Targa in the garage of the BKA (“Bundeskriminalamt”, the German “Federal Crime Office”) in Wiesbaden, Germany.

Looking at this picture, there are a lot of fingerprints smothered all over the front edge of the bonnet. The forensics team clearly knew that when you close the bonnet of a Porsche 911, it has to be done with reasonably firm pressure applied to the front…

Only with a cream-coloured VW 411 Variant parked between them, the ISO Rivolta from the very first picture is clearly parked in the BKA’s garage along with the Porsche 911 Targa – we have come full circle…

The ISO Rivolta was always a rare car produced in fewer than 1,000 examples. On the flipside, we know that up to 80% of all produced Porsches still exist. Did these two examples go straight from the BKA garage and directly to the scrap press, or were they perhaps sold with a discount? Do they still exist? If so, maybe they’re even worth a premium due to their history?

Footnote: If you “dare” to dive further into the story about RAF, the drama documentary: “Der Baader Meinhof Complex”, based on Stefan Aust’s book of the same name, comes highly recommended. The movie describes quite accurately this dramatic chapter of German history. Along the way you are treated to several scenes with the mentioned cars in action. Be warned though, if you haven’t already seen the movie, especially considering that it’s based on real events, it’s not a movie for the faint of heart!

 

References:

  1. Der Terrorist ohne Führerschein, Klaus Stern, Spiegel Online, 18.10.2007.
  2. RAF-Autos: Die schnellen Reifen der Revolution, Helmut Werb, Stern, 22.10.2008
  3. Stop, a Terrorist Has Stolen My Porsche!, Classic Driver, 03.05.2013

 

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2 Responses

  1. Tony Wawryk
    Interesting piece, thanks Michael! Even bad people can have good taste in cars, it seems.
    To pick up on a non-car aspect of your article, your mentioning Heinrich Böll takes me back to when I was a teenager and had to read “Im Tal der donnernden Hufe” (in the valley of the thundering hooves”) as a German A-Level (Abitur) text back in the ’70’s. It was basically a teen rites-of-passage novella, full of imagery relating to blood, sex, and death – happy reading it was not. I have to say that it didn’t entice me into reading any more of his work…
    Reply

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