From Left Wing Journalist to Urban Guerrilla: A Historical Biography of German Terrorist Ulrike Meinhof

By: Ellen Heartlein '14

Advising Faculty: Frederick Paxton

For her senior integrative project through the Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts (CISLA), Heartlein researched Ulrike Meinhof, a founder and leader of the West German terrorist organization, the Rote Armee Fraktion (RAF), which throughout the 1970s unleashed numerous violent acts such as bombings, kidnappings and executions on the German people. By constructing a historical biography of this dynamic woman, one can trace her development from a prominent journalist to a student activist, and to her ultimate identity as an urban guerrilla. The analysis of her articles for leftist magazine konkret serves as a fascinating focus, through which the transformation of her ideas and actions is revealed. Ulrike Meinhof reflects the conflicts and struggles related to Germany's past, including the formation of a new democracy post-World War II and the emerging generational conflict of the 1960s and 1970s, which for some led to more radical beliefs and actions.

Related Fields: CISLA, Fulbright, German Studies, Global/International, History