chapter capsules Chapter 15 — The Most Secure Prison Block in the World

December 1973 – December 1974, 14 pages: Throughout 1973 and 1974, the German government prepares for the massive Baader-Meinhof trial. Early on it is decided that the trial should be held in Stuttgart, but the authorities are worried over possible rescue attempts during the course of the lengthy trial if the defendants are transported to a courthouse everyday. The solution is to build a courthouse on the ground of Stuttgart’s imposing Stammheim prison.

No expense is spared in building the courthouse. The roof is covered in spikes to prevent any rescue attempts by way of a helicopter landing, and the walls are made of hardened concrete. All told the cost of building the courthouse tops $5 million. As the courthouse nears completion, the major defendants, Meinhof, Baader, Ensslin and Raspe are moved to a special prison block in Stammheim prison, which is billed as the most secure prison block in the world. Unbeknownst to any of the defendants, the German government secretly, and quite illegally, installs bugs in the cells of the all of the defendants.

The Baader-Meinhof defendants become a cause celebre amongst leftist Europeans. Existentialist Marxist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre visits Baader in Stammheim, lending considerable credence to the notion that the Baader-Meinhof defendants are indeed political prisoners.