terminology Baader-Meinhof Wagen

BMW or
Baader-Meinhof Wagen
Bayerische Motoren Werke or
Bavrian Motor Works

Bayerische Motoren Werke was the third largest manufacturer of cars on Germany, but by the mid-sixties the company was in financial trouble. Its cars were well built, yet plain. They were also distressingly easy to break into and hot-wire. Though the Baader-Meinhof Gang stole as many Mercedes as BMWs, they were forever linked to the little Bavarian cars in part because of the popular reworking of its name — from Bayerische Motoren Werke to Baader Meinhof Wagen.

Such was the presumed connection between the gang and the cars that when police would receive a tip that members of the gang were in a particular area, the would often set up a road block and stop only passing BMWs. Often the gang members would be able to drive unmolested past the roadblocks in their freshly stolen Mercedes.

Frustrated BMW owners took to placing bumper stickers on their cars indicating to police that the driver was not, in fact, a member of the Baader-Meinhof Gang. “Ich gehöre nicht zur Baader-Meinhof Gruppe” (“I do not belong to the Baader-Meinhof Group”) read the stickers, which were a practical statement as much as a political statement on the tenor of West German state caught in the grip of anti-terrorist mania. (To purchase your own copy of the famous bumper sticker, visit our store)

The BMWs began to shed their staid reputation among Germans early in the seventies, benefiting immensely from the new connection to the Baader-Meinhof Gang. Among younger Germans, the BMWs became hip and cool. Perhaps not coincidentally, concurrent with the rising prominence of the Baader-Meinhof Gang, BMW turned the corner financially and went on to become one of the world’s most prominent, respected, and financially successful auto makers.

Watch an exclusive documentary about BMW and their connection to the notorious Baader-Meinhof Gang.