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1975: Baader-Meinhof blow up embassy

VIDEO : Report from the ruined embassy

A tense stand-off at the West German embassy in Stockholm has ended in violence, with the death of at least three people.

Five Baader-Meinhof guerrillas had been holding 11 people hostage, including the German ambassador to Sweden, for almost 12 hours.

Shortly before midnight, a cache of dynamite detonated, setting the building on fire. Staff in the embassy could be seen at the windows, calling for help.

Two hostages shot dead

Journalist Roger Schoter described the scene as one of "turmoil and confusion".

"From what we can see the entire first floor of the embassy is ablaze," he said. "Flames are shooting out of the windows."

The extent of the injuries suffered by those inside the embassy is still not clear, although at least one of the guerrillas is believed to have died.

The group are thought to have shot dead two of the hostages, both attachés at the embassy, during the 11-hour siege.

Military attaché Colonel Andreas von Mirbach died soon after the embassy was seized. The economics attaché, Heinz Hallagaart, was also shot shortly before the blaze which destroyed the four-storey building.


"We told them the only realistic thing they could do was to leave the country"

Swedish Justice Minister Lennart Gerjer

The guerrilla group were demanding the release of the 26 Baader-Meinhof group members currently in prison in Germany.

Among them are four of the founders of the group: Gudrun Ensslin, Andreas Baader, Ulrike Meinhof and Jan-Karl Raspe, due to go on trial in Stuttgart next month.

The German government were anxious to avoid a second humiliation after being forced to release five Baader-Meinhof prisoners in exchange for the kidnapped opposition leader Peter Lorenz two months ago, and refused the demands point-blank.

The Swedish justice minister, Lennart Gerjer, was given the task of breaking the news to those inside the embassy.

"They could not believe this," he said. "We told them the only realistic thing they could do was to leave the country, and the Swedish government was prepared to help them do this on condition they released their hostages."

Immediately after the explosion, police said most of the guerrillas, gave up without a fight. At least one is said to be critically injured.

In Context
Four of the five Baader-Meinhof members were immediately deported back to West Germany. The fifth was too badly injured to be moved, and later died in hospital.

The German ambassador and the remaining nine hostages escaped from the embassy, most with only light injuries.

The trial of the 26 Baader-Meinhof prisoners began in 1976 and lasted almost two years in all, the longest and most expensive trial in West German history.

Three of the four main defendants were sentenced to life imprisonment. The fourth, Ulrike Meinhof, committed suicide in prison during the trial.

The other three hardliners also committed suicide in 1977, bringing to an end the "German Autumn", in which the country was gripped by a series of terrorist attacks.

The Baader-Meinhof gang continued to be active until the early 1990s, when it was finally disbanded.


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