Remembering the Armed Struggle: My Time with the Red Army Faction
Author: Margrit Schiller • Foreword: Ann Hansen • Afterword: Osvaldo Bayer • Appendix: J. Smith & André Moncourt
Series: PM Press
Subjects: Biography & Autobiography/History: Europe
Margrit Schiller was an early member of the Red Army Faction, the West German urban guerrilla group. In 1971 she was captured and charged with a murder she did not commit, and upon her release she returned to the underground, being captured again in early 1974. She would spend most of the 1970s in prison, enduring isolation conditions meant to break the human spirit, and participating hunger strikes and other acts of resistance along with other political prisoners from the RAF.
In Remembering the Armed Struggle, Schiller recounts the process through which she joined her generation’s revolt in the 1960s, going from work with drug users to joining the antipsychiatry political organization the Socialist Patients’ Collective and then the RAF. She tells of how she met and worked alongside the group’s founding members, Ulrike Meinhof, Andreas Baader, Jan-Carl Raspe, Irmgard Möller, and Holger Meins; how she learned the details of the May Offensive and other actions while in her prison cell; about the struggles to defend human dignity in the most degraded of environments, and the relationships she forged with other women in prison.
Also included are a foreword by Ann Hansen, who situates the draconian prison conditions inflicted on the RAF within the context of a global counterinsurgency program that would help spawn the plague of mass incarceration we still face today, an afterword by the late Osvaldo Bayer, and an appendix by J. Smith and André Moncourt summarizing the politics and history of the RAF in the 1970s.
“Margrit Schiller’s life story Remembering the Armed Struggle, is not meant to mark a hard break with the Red Army Faction, but is more of a critical reflection in the spirit of solidarity. Even those who do not share Schiller’s perspective well find it interesting to join her as she looks back on her years underground and in prison.”
“Schiller’s recollections are profoundly honest and to the point. She neither glorifies the Red Army Faction nor does she repent or distance herself from her past.”
“I am moved by the honesty of this story, showing the limits, doubts, and uncertainties. Margrit is far from pretending to be a hero or providing a heroic tale. May Margrit’s experiences and those of her comrades help us to continue the battle for the freedom of political prisoners in any corner of the world. May they also allow us to radically question the prison system, which is used as a space to discard the excluded and to criminalize poverty. . . . Memory, freedom, and desire are part of the experience of resistance of our bodies, of our lives. And Margrit, stripping away her own history in this book, with pain but with courage, helps us to continue spinning colors, flavors, sounds and aromas in this mild time of attempts.”
—Claudia Korol, author of Las Revoluciones de Berta (2019) from the Prologue to the Spanish edition
“The book challenges prejudices and dares to address subjects that are taboo, especially in these latitudes so plagued by silences about the human aspects that mark the reality of the struggle to free ourselves. This story is the story of hundreds of antisystem militants . . . [It] contains that old but not perished left-wing argument from the 1960s about how words should have some connection to actions . . .”
—Grupo de ex presas politicas: Memoria v testimonios
About the Contributors
Margrit Schiller was a member of the Red Army Faction in the early 1970s, and as a result spent most of the decade in West German prisons. Released in 1979, she moved to Cuba in 1985, and then to Uruguay in 1993. After ten years in Montevideo she returned in Germany. She is now living in Berlin. She described her experiences in Cuba and Uruguay in her memoir So siehst du gar nicht aus! (2011).
Ann Hansen served seven years of a life sentence in federal prisons for acts carried out as part of the group Direct Action in Canada. She is a prison abolition activist and author of Direct Action: Memoirs of an Urban Guerrilla and Taking the Rap: Women Doing Time for Society’s Crimes.
Osvaldo Bayer (1927–2018) was an author, journalist, and scriptwriter who was exiled from Argentina during the years of military dictatorship. His works include The Anarchist Expropriators, Anarchism & Violence, and Rebellion in Patagonia.
J. Smith and André Moncourt are the coeditors of the Red Army Faction Documentary History series, comprising Projectiles for the People (Vol. 1) and Dancing with Imperialism (Vol. 2), with a third volume forthcoming.
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