chapter capsules Chapter 2 — Gudrun

1942 – 1967, 19 pages: This chapter opens with a vivid description of a riot that took place in Berlin on June 2, 1967. Students are demonstrating against a visit by the Shah of Iran when Berlin police began beating them. In the confusion, a policeman shoots a young protestor, Benno Ohnesorg, killing him instantly. Ohnesorg quickly becomes a martyr for the growing radical student movement. A reed-thin young woman attends a student rally an hour after Ohnesorg’s shooting; it was Gudrun Ensslin, screaming hysterically, arguing for violent response.

At this point the chapter shifts to tell of the beginnings of Ensslin. Her father was a Protestant pastor, and she was a bright student. She marries at a young age and has a son, Felix. Through the mid-60s she becomes increasingly radicalized, pulling further away from the mainstream and also away from her husband. The chapter ends with a party in her apartment a few months after the June 2, 1967 riot. At the party a handsome young radical is there; Andreas Baader is calling for a campaign of violence against the German state. Gudrun is aroused.