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Film on German terrorists criticized

Daughters of a Red Army Faction leader and of a victim decry 'The Baader Meinhof Complex's' approach.

October 10, 2008|From the Associated Press

BERLIN -- A new film devoted to the violent career of the Red Army Faction has drawn sharp criticism from both the daughter of one of the left-wing German terrorist group's leaders and the daughter of a prominent victim.

"The Baader Meinhof Complex," directed by Uli Edel and produced by Bernd Eichinger, was released in Germany on Sept. 25 and already has been chosen as the country's contender for a foreign-language Oscar nomination.

The daughter of Ulrike Meinhof -- a leader of the Red Army Faction, which was also known as the Baader-Meinhof Gang -- said she saw it as more hero worship than history.

"The film portrays one murder after another without any sense of meaning, any explanation," Bettina Roehl said in an interview Thursday.

The Red Army Faction followed Marxist-Leninist ideology and sought to overthrow the West German government and fight perceived U.S. imperialism. The organization killed 34 people and wounded hundreds from its first attack in 1968 to 1998, when it declared itself disbanded.

Roehl said the film is offensive not only for its glut of violent scenes but because "in nonverbal but very suggestive ways, the film insinuates that their motivations for terrorism are understandable."

"That is 100% wrong," said Roehl, who has long decried the Red Army Faction's violent campaign against the West German establishment.

Roehl, a freelance journalist, earlier this week interviewed Corinna Ponto, the daughter of Juergen Ponto, the chief executive of Dresdner Bank who was shot dead by the group at his home in 1977. The incident is graphically reenacted in the film.

"There were never any images from the [group's] assassination of my father until now," Ponto was quoted as saying in the Die Welt daily. "That always provided a degree of comfort and solace for us. I find the film's willingness to wrongfully invade our privacy particularly perfidious."

Joerg Schleyer, the son of assassinated industrialist Hanns-Martin Schleyer, praised the film in the Bild daily for showing the faction as a "pitiless gang of murderers."

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