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A Terrorist Call for "Building a Red Army" (June 5, 1970)

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What does it mean to push the conflicts to a head? It means don’t go meekly off to slaughter. This is why we are building the Red Army. Standing behind the parents are the teachers, the youth welfare department, the police. Standing behind the foreman is the master craftsman, the personnel office, the factory security office, the welfare workers, the police. Standing behind the house superintendent is the property management, the owner, the bailiffs, the eviction suit, the police. Whatever the pigs manage with grades, dismissals, terminations, with bailiff’s seals and billy clubs, that’s what they manage. Of course they reach for their service revolver, turn to tear gas, hand grenades, and submachine guns; of course they escalate the means in order to get what they want. Of course the GIs in Vietnam were retrained in guerilla tactics and Green Berets were set on a torture course. So what!? Of course the enforcement of sentences for political prisoners is being intensified.

You have to make clear that it’s social democratic bullshit to claim that imperialism along with all the Neubauers and Westmorelands,* Bonn, the senate, the State Youth Welfare Office and district offices, that the whole filth can be undermined, duped, overpowered, intimidated, and eliminated without a fight. Make it clear that the revolution will not be an Easter stroll. That of course the pigs will escalate the means as far as they can, but no further. We are building the Red Army in order to push the conflicts to a head.

Without simultaneously building the Red Army, every conflict, all political work in the factories, in the Wedding and Märkische Viertel districts,** in the Plötze,*** and in the courtroom will degenerate into nothing more than reformism, which means you merely push through better means of discipline, better methods of intimidation, better methods of exploitation. All that does is break the people down. It does not break down what breaks the people down!

If we don’t build the Red Army then the pigs will be able to do anything, the pigs will be able to go on as usual: Locking people up, firing them, impounding, stealing children, intimidating, shooting, ruling. Pushing the conflicts to a head means they can no longer do what they want, but have to do what we want.

You have to tell all those who don’t gain anything from the exploitation of the Third World, from Persian oil, Bolivia’s bananas, South Africa’s gold, who have no reason to identify with the exploiters. They can understand that what is starting here has already started in Vietnam, Palestine, Guatemala, in Oakland and Watts, in Cuba and China, in Angola and New York. They understand if you tell them that the action to liberate Baader is not an isolated act, and it never was, but it was just the first act of its kind in the FRG. Damn it.

Don’t sit around on your house-searched couches and count your loved ones like some petty-minded bourgeois. Set up a proper distribution apparatus and leave behind the scaredy-pants, the cabbage eaters, the social workers who do nothing but kiss ass, this riffraff.

Find out where the state homes are and the large families and the subproletariat and the proletarian women who are just waiting for the chance to punch out the right person. They will assume the leadership. And don’t let yourself get caught, and learn from them how not to get caught. They know more about that than you do.

Gudrun Ensslin

Develop the class struggles. Organize the proletariat.
Start the armed resistance!


* Kurt Neubauer, West Berlin interior senator; William Childs Westmoreland, commander of U.S. armed forces in South Vietnam, 1964-68, and later U.S. Army Chief of Staff – trans.
** Working class districts in northern Berlin – trans.
*** Plötzensee women’s prison in West Berlin – trans.

Source: Gudrun Ensslin, “Die Rote Armee aufbauen!” [“Build up the Red Army!”], June 5, 1970, from

Translation: Allison Brown

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