Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Germanic & Slavic Languages & Literature

First Advisor

Helmut Müller-Sievers

Second Advisor

Patrick Greaney

Third Advisor

Beverly Weber


Although terrorism has existed for centuries, it continues to be extremely difficult to establish a comprehensive, cohesive definition - it is a monumental task that scholars, governments, and international organizations have yet to achieve. Integral to this concept is the variable and highly subjective distinction made by various parties between "good" and "evil," "right" and "wrong," "us" and "them." This thesis examines these concepts as they relate to the actions and manifestos of the Red Army Faction (die Rote Armee Fraktion) in 1970s Germany, and seeks to understand how its members became regarded as terrorists. While their writings called for an organized, armed resistance, and promoted a rational, systematic uprising, their actions directly contradicted this, and caused excessive, unnecessary death and destruction. Whatever their initial intentions, Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin, Ulrike Meinhof, and Horst Mahler created an alliance that rapidly evolved from a group of disillusioned radicals into a terrorist organization.