|West German embassy occupation|
German embassy in Stockholm (photo from 2008)
24 April 1975 |
12.00pm – 23.47pm (CET)
|Target||West German embassy|
|Siege, hostage crisis|
|Weapons||TNT, submachine guns|
2 embassy personnel,|
10 embassy personnel, |
|Perpetrators||Kommando Holger Meins/Red Army Faction|
The West German embassy occupation in Stockholm, Sweden, was carried out by the Red Army Faction on 24 April 1975. Collectively, the attackers referred to themselves as Kommando Holger Meins, named after their comrade Holger Meins, who had died after staging a hunger strike in Wittlich Prison on 9 November 1974.
The RAF group executed the occupation because they wanted to free RAF members from prison in West Germany. During the siege they stated;
"The Holger Meins Commando is holding members of the embassy staff in order to free prisoners in West Germany. If the police move in, we shall blow the building up with 15 kilos of TNT."
The group consisted of six members: Karl-Heinz Dellwo, Siegfried Hausner, Hanna-Elise Krabbe, Bernhard Rössner, Lutz Taufer and Ulrich Wessel. They entered the embassy, took thirteen embassy officials, including ambassador Dietrich Stoecher, hostage (or twelve officials, according to some sources), and then proceeded to occupy the upper floors of the building. They warned Swedish police to back off or some hostages would be killed, but the police did not comply and one of the hostages, Baron von Mirbach, a German military attaché was marched out on to the landing and murdered.
The group was then told that Chancellor Helmut Schmidt was not prepared to negotiate with them; in response, economic attaché Hillegaart was made to stand at a window and was then shot three times. With the murder of Hillegaart, the attackers announced that they would execute one hostage every hour until their demands were met.
Swedish police prepared to storm the building, but before they had the chance to, the embassy was rocked by a series of violent explosions; the TNT had been detonated. Ulrich Wessel dropped a grenade, which detonated and killed him. The remaining hostages, as well as the RAF terrorists, all suffered severe burns. Siegfried Hausner was flown back to West Germany, but died later of his wounds.
The explosion of the embassy was caught on tape. Swedish news reporter Bo Holmström was standing outside the embassy ready to broadcast when the explosions took off. After taking cover Holmström starts yelling "Lägg ut, lägg ut!" ("Start broadcast, start broadcast!") to make sure that he was out in the air. When he knew he was live he began to report from the events.
The entire siege lasted for approximately twelve hours, and it was later proven that the explosives had been set off accidentally. This event was one of many terrorist activities related to the Red Army Faction during the 1970s, although it marked the turning point in relations with the government, which decided it would no longer co-operate/negotiate with terrorists as they had during the Peter Lorenz kidnapping.
Norbert Kröcher, another German radical militant, was caught by Swedish police in May 1977. By then, he (along with another Red Army Faction group, "Kommando Siegfried Hausner") had been planning another attack, this time targeting minister Anna-Greta Leijon. The justification for their new plan was that Siegfried Hausner had been expelled from the country and had later died because of this. The goal of the attack would be the same as the occupation of the embassy; to free numerous RAF leaders imprisoned in Germany.
Also, on 28 February 1986, eleven years after the embassy incident, Olof Palme, the Prime Minister of Sweden, was assassinated. Although there are numerous theories on who assassinated Palme, the Red Army Faction was one of the organisations which claimed responsibility via an anonymous call to a London news agency. They said the assassination was carried out by the 'Holger Meins Commando' and that "you can check the history books for why this was carried out". Palme had been the PM of Sweden during the Occupation of the West German Embassy in 1975.
- A Brief History of the Red Army Faction
- Video Bo Holmström "Lägg ut, lägg ut!"
- Video of the embassy burning after the explosion
- "BBC on this day 24 April". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/april/24/newsid_2523000/2523095.stm.
- Ascherson, Neal. "A terror campaign of love and hate". http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/sep/28/germany.terrorism.
- "5 terrorists seize embassy". http://www.baader-meinhof.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/4-24-1975-Five-Terrorists-Seize-Embassy.pdf.
- "German terrorists captured after embassy bomb attack". http://www.baader-meinhof.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/4-25-1975-GermanTerroristCaptured-MontrealGazette.pdf.
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