Manufacturing ‘Terrorism’: The Media and the Red Army Faction, 1970-1977


MLLI Department Lecture
Hanno Balz, visiting assistant professor of history, Johns Hopkins University
“Manufacturing ‘Terrorism’: The Media and the Red Army Faction, 1970-1977”
Thursday, October 20, 7 p.m.
Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery

In the aftermath of the revolt of the 1960s, the discourse on politics in West Germany appeared intensified and determined by ideological dichotomies yet unprecedented. The attack on the state by the militant “Red Army Faction,” with a range of bombings and assassinations of high ranking economic leaders, soon played the role of a paradigmatic debate. After the group emerged in 1970, the terrorism discourse became the pivot of negotiating the state of the nation.

This talk will portray how West German media and society in the 1970s dealt with an attack from the radical left that shocked the nation and still is regarded as the biggest crisis in post-war Germany. Media strategies ranged from creating doses of moral panic to denouncing those who would not denounce the armed struggle. With regards to the German past, both sides of the conflict referred to Nazi Germany, calling the other side “fascist state,” respectively “Hitler’s children.” Also a rather hostile gendering of the discourse can be observed since a significant part of the RAF’s members were women. According to the slogan of the RAF, “throwing bombs into the consciousness of the masses,” the hegemonic discourse aimed at the consciousness on a wide scale as well.

Light refreshments will be served.

This event is free and open to the public.


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