Symbol site of the left-wing terrorists
RAF courtroom in Stammheim is demolished
3/28/2023 3:44 am
The courtroom in Stuttgart-Stammheim was specially built in the 1970s for the trials of RAF members. In 2019, the last verdict against Islamists will be passed here. Now only the wrecking ball awaits the highly controversial building.
The clock in the foyer of the famous courtroom in Stuttgart-Stammheim reads shortly before ten o’clock. In fact, it’s already half past ten on Monday – time has literally stood still in the courthouse where the terrorists of the Red Army Faction (RAF) were sentenced. The building was built specifically for the trials of the first generation of the RAF, the accused Ulrike Meinhof, Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin and Jan-Carl Raspe. Demolition is to begin soon and a symbolic site in the history of German left-wing terrorism will finally be a thing of the past.
The last verdict was pronounced here in 2019 – in another terrorist case against Islamists. Countless lines on a whitewashed wall in the passageway to the courtroom are reminiscent of the endless RAF proceedings. Federal prosecutor Klaus Pflug, who led the investigations into the then terrorist Peter-Jürgen Boock and was also the interrogator of the so-called life confessions, drew the first line. “I climbed onto the table and drew a line like a prisoner. In the end it was 85 lines,” the 75-year-old recalls the first trial against Boock.
Pfluger spent more than 200 days of trial in the courtroom with the orange bucket seats. “The multi-purpose building stands for the rule of law’s successful fight against terrorism,” says Pflug in retrospect. In April 1977, the State Security Senate of the Higher Regional Court in Stuttgart sentenced the terrorists Baader, Ensslin and Raspe to life imprisonment. Meinhoff hanged herself in her cell in 1976. However, the judgment against the others did not become final either – they also committed suicide in 1977 during the “German Autumn”.
Judge Kurt Breucker was a reporter for the State Security Senate in the first terror trial in Stammheim. According to the lawyer, this was neither influenced by the agitation of the accused and their defense lawyers nor by numerous left-wing supporters and sympathizers “nor by the pressure from right-wing circles, led by the Springer press”. Again and again he and his colleagues took a seat at the long judge’s bench, which is now to be dismantled over the next few days and kept as an exhibit.
One of the defense attorneys in the first Stammheim trial was the lawyer and former Green Party politician Rupert von Plottnitz. “My experiences weren’t such that I grieved during the demolition,” he says today. Almost five decades later, he also complains that the building was specially built for the first terror trial. “Hearings in special buildings instead of in normal courts inevitably stigmatize the accused as an alleged public danger, which cannot do the presumption of innocence any good.”
The spectator area in the sober courtroom, which exudes the charm of a production hall, is separated only by a waist-high wooden railing. The process visitors were always strictly controlled during all processes in Stammheim. There were several small cabins for this purpose. The iron turnstiles for the identity checks still work – they squeak in the entrance area as they did decades ago.
The empty building appears to the visitor as if it had been abandoned in a hurry. Criminal codes of different editions lie around in the judges’ rooms. In one room someone even seems to have made themselves comfortable – there is still an old leather armchair here. A wall of 38 ancient screens towers in the rear of the police control center. Small traffic lights there used to indicate when a person came near the prison fence.
The cells appear extremely sparse – table, chair, sink and toilet in just a few square meters. Stickers are attached to some doors and objects – including from the Ludwigsburg Prison Museum and the House of History Baden-Württemberg. At the beginning of April, the latter takes over several pieces of furniture and other objects.
Judges’ and defenders’ tables and even several seating units from the spectator area will be removed and removed, reports exhibition manager Rainer Schimpf. “The tables stand for the massive confrontation that took place in the so-called Stammheim trial from 1975 to 1977 between the presiding judge Theodor Prinzing and the defense attorneys for the accused from the RAF.”
The door, table and chairs are also taken from one of the custody cells for the accused and taken to a depot. At some point, all of these objects will then be exhibited – and tell the story of the multi-purpose building in Stuttgart-Stammheim.