Communiqués Build up the Red Army! – June 2, 1970 (English)
This communiqué, delivered to the the radical underground newspaper Agit 883 on June 2, 1970, appeared three weeks after the rescue of Andreas Baader from police custody. Significantly, it also appeared three years to the day after Benno Ohnesorg was shot and killed at a Berlin demonstration. It was probably written by Ulrike Meinhof shortly before the gang traveled to the Jordan desert for guerrilla training (though some sources claim it was written by Gudrun Ensslin). It was printed in the June 5th edition of the newspaper.
Build the Red Army!
Comrades of 883 –
It is pointless to explain the right thing to the wrong people. We’ve done enough of that. We don’t want to explain the action to free Baader to babbling intellectuals, to those who are freaked out, who know it all anyway, but rather to the potentially revolutionary section of the people. That is to say, to those who can immediately understand this action, because they are themselves prisoners. Those who want nothing to do with the blather of the “left,” because it remains without meaning or consequence. Those who are fed up!
The action to free Baader must be explained to youth from the Märkisch neighbourhood, to the girls from the Eichenhof, Ollenhauer, and Heiligensee, to young people in group homes, in youth centers, in the Grünen Haus and Kieferngrund.
To large families, to young workers and apprentices, to high school students, to families in neighborhoods that are being gentrified, to the workers at Siemens and AEG-Telefunken, at SEL and Osram, to the married women who, as well as doing the housework and raising the children, must do piecework—damn it.
They are the ones who must understand the action; those who receive no compensation for the exploitation they are submitted to. Not in their standard of living, not in their consumption, not in the form of mortgages, not in the form of even limited credit, not in the form of midsize cars.
Those who cannot even hope for these baubles, who are not seduced by all of that.
Those who have realized that the future promised to them by their teachers and professors and landlords and social workers and supervisors and foremen and union representatives and city councelors is nothing more than an empty lie, but who nonetheless fear the police. It is only necessary that they—and not the petit bourgeois intellectuals—understand that all of that is over now, that things are moving, that the liberation of Baader is only the beginning! That an end to pig power is in sight! It is to them that you have to say that we are building the red army, and it is their army. It is to them that you have to say that things are moving.
They are not the ones asking, why now? They have already traveled a thousand roads controlled by the authorities and managers—they’ve done the waiting room waltz; they remember the times when it worked and the times when it didn’t. And in conversations with sympathetic teachers, who are assigned to the remedial schools that don’t change anything, and the kindergartens that lack the necessary spaces—they don’t ask why now—damn it!
They certainly won’t listen to you, if you aren’t even able to distribute your newspaper before it is confiscated. Because you don’t need to shake up the left-wing shit eaters, but rather the objective left, you have to construct a distribution network that is out of the reach of the pigs.
Don’t complain that it’s too hard. The action to free Baader was hardly a walk in the park. If you
understand what’s going on (and your comments indicate that you do understand, so it’s opportunism to say that the bullet also hit you in the stomach—you assholes), if you understand anything, you need to find a better way to organize your distribution.
And we have no more to say to you about our methods than we do about our plans for action—you
shitheads! As long as you allow yourselves to be brought in by the cops, you aren’t in a position to be giving anyone else advice about how to avoid being brought in by the cops.
What do you mean by adventurism? That one only has oneself to blame for informers. Whatever.
What does it mean to bring conflicts to a head? It means not allowing oneself to be taken out of action. That’s why we’re building the red army. Behind the parents stand the teachers, the youth authorities, and the police. Behind the supervisor stands the boss, the personnel office, the workers compensation board, the welfare office, and the police. Behind the custodian stands the manager, the landlord, the bailiff, the eviction notice, and the police. With this comes the way that the pigs use censorship, layoffs, dismissals, along with bailiff’s seals and billy clubs. Obviously, they reach for their service revolvers, their teargas, their grenades, and their semi-automatic weapons; obviously, they escalate, if nothing else does the trick.
Obviously, the GIs in Vietnam are trained in counterguerilla tactics and the Green Berets receive courses on torture. So what?
It’s clear that prison sentences for political activities have been made heavier. you must be clear that it is social democratic bullshit to act as if imperialism—with all its Neubauers and Westmorelands, with Bonn, the senate, states’ youth offices, borough councils, the whole pig circus—should be allowed to subvert, investigate, ambush, intimidate, and suppress without a fight. Be absolutely clear that the revolution is no Easter March. The pigs will certainly escalate their means as far as possible, but no further than that. To bring the conflict to a head, we are building the red army.
If the red army is not simultaneously built, then all conflict, all the political work carried out in the factories and in Wedding and in the Märkisch neighborhood and at Plötze and in the courtrooms is reduced to reformism; which is to say, you end up with improved discipline, improved intimidation, and improved exploitation. That destroys the people, rather than destroying what destroys the people! If we don’t build the red army, the pigs can do what they want, the pigs can continue to incarcerate, lay off, impound, seize children, intimidate, shoot, and dominate. To bring the conflict to a head means that they are no longer able to do what they want, but rather must do what we want them to do.
You must understand that those who have nothing to gain from the exploitation of the Third World, of Persian oil, of Bolivian bananas, of South African gold, have no reason to identify with the exploiter. They can grasp that what is beginning to happen here has been going on for a long time in Vietnam, in Palestine, in Guatemala, in Oakland and Watts, in Cuba and China, in Angola and in New York.
They will understand, if you explain it to them, that the action to liberate Baader was not an isolated action, that it never was, but that it is just the first of its kind in Germany. Damn it. Stop lounging around on the sofa in your recently-raided apartment counting up your love affairs and other petty details. Build an effective distribution system. Forget about the cowardly shits, the bootlickers, the social workers, those who only attempt to curry favor, they are a lumpen mob. Figure out where the asylums are and the large families and the subproletariat and the women workers, those who are only waiting to give a kick in the teeth to those who deserve it. They will take the lead. And don’t let yourselves get caught. Learn from them how one avoids getting caught—they know more about that than you.
DEVELOP THE CLASS STRUGGLE
ORGANIZE THE PROLETARIAT
START THE ARMED STRUGGLE
BUILD THE RED ARMY!