chapter capsules Chapter 13 — Capture

May 1972 – June 1972, 19 pages: This chapter will be mostly straightforward narrative, following the successful effort to capture most of the gang leadership over the next few weeks. The loose confederation of supporters who had provided housing, transportation and money begins to crumble. On June 1, a disillusioned Baader-Meinhof supporter tips off police with the location of a gang hideout. Hundreds of police, with machine guns, rocket launchers, and tanks, converge on a Frankfurt machine shop to ferret out Baader, Raspe, and Meins. German television covers the entire three-hour standoff live as a Raspe and Meins are captured with little struggle, and then Baader, ever the fashion plate, is pulled from the garage with Ray-Bans on his face, and a police bullet in his thigh.

The ensuing week Ensslin is captured in Hamburg when a clothing boutique clerk notices a gun in her purse. The next day several other gang members are captured in Berlin. The following week Meinhof is captured in Hannover along with fellow gang member Gerhard Müller. At first police are not sure that it is indeed Meinhof. One of the police remembers that a recent magazine article had featured a photo of the X-ray taken of the Meinhof’s head after her brain surgery in 1962. Meinhof is taken to a hospital, sedated, and x-rayed again. The telltale metal clip proves Meinhof’s identity. In two short weeks the entire leadership of the Baader-Meinhof Gang has been captured.

One of the more amusing incidents happens a few months after Meinhof’s capture. Police arrange for an identity lineup featuring Meinhof and several actresses. When the police bring in a witness to one of the bank robberies that Meinhof had participated in, she begins screaming, “I am Ulrike Meinhof! Swines! This is all just a show!” The actresses are instructed to follow Meinhof’s lead so the witness is treated to the unforgettable spectacle of a real life version of the “To Tell the Truth” game show–five women, tearing at their dresses and hair, each screaming that they indeed are the true Ulrike Meinhof.