Stefan Aust has spent his career finding out, saying it was a once in a lifetime case of a “story looking for an author”. The Baader Meinhoff complex examines in gripping detail the lives of a group of German revolutionaries known as the Red Army Faction (RAF). They began as protesters against war and the state in the sixties and ended up committing arson, bombings, murders and kidnappings. In prison they went on hunger strikes, and won sympathy when the authorities force fed them.
Some of the of the group died in prison – there were questions over whether it was murder or suicides? Two had shot themselves, one had hung herself – but even though they were closely guarded, no-one heard the shots or found them until the following morning.
At his festival session with Mark Sainsbury, Aust decribed this chapter of German history as “the most interesting and dramatic time after the Second World War”.