Back to the video list: German History


The so-called German Autumn in 1977 (Deutscher Herbst) was the height of left-wing terrorism in Germany. German terrorists abducted the president of the employers association Hanns Martin Schleyer and Palestinian terrorists hijacked the Lufthansa plane Landshut.






  • Date: 05 Sep – 18/19 Oct 1977
  • Location: Germany & Somalia
  • Start: Abduction of the president of the Employer Association Hanns Martin Schleyer
  • End: GSG9 free the hostages aboard the Lufthansa plane Landshut / RAF murder Hanns Martin Schleyer


Parties & Persons Involved

  • Federal Republic of Germany
  • GSG 9 under the command of Ulrich Wegener (1929 – )
  • Helmut Schmidt (1918 – ), Bundeskanzler (Chancellor)
  • Red Army Faction (RAF)
  • Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine



  • Founding of the anti-terrorist elite unit GSG 9 (operational since April 1973) after the Munich Massacre (05 Sep 1972)
  • Left-wing terrorism in Germany (since 1970) & Palestinian terrorism in the Middle East (at least since 1948)
  • The leaders of the 1st generation of the Red Army Faction (RAF) are imprisoned in Germany
  • In exchange for hostages German authorities release terrorists who commit further terrorist acts:
    • Release of the 3 surviving terrorists of the Munich Massacre in exchange for a hijacked Lufthansa flight (29 Oct 1972)
    • Abduction of Peter Lorenz (27 Feb – 03 Mar 1975) - 6 terrorists (RAF & 2 June Movement) are flown out to Yemen



  • 07 Apr 1977: With the murder of attorney general Siegfried Buback & 2 members of his detail the Red Army FAction starts the “Offensive 77“
  • 30 Jul 1977: The RAF fails to abduct the CEO of Dresdner Bank Jürgen Ponto & murders him instead
  • 05 Sep 1977: Abduction of Hanns Martin Schleyer & murder of his detail (4 victims)
  • 05 Sep 1977: The Red Army Faction holds Schleyer Prisoner in multi-storey building in Erfstadt where he is forced into a sound proofed wall cabinet
  • Schleyer is forced to read the demands of the terrorists which is caught on video: Release of 11 imprisoned Red Army Faction terrorists
  • 16 Sep 1977: Schleyer is brought to The Hague
  • 19/20 Sep 1977: Schleyer is brought to Brussels
  • 13 Oct 1977: 4 terrorists of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine hijack a Lufthansa plane Landshut with tourists aboard
  • 13 Oct 1977: Because of fuel shortage the plane lands in Rome where the hijackers demand the release of 11 RAF terrorists in Germany (matches the RAF demands) & 2 Palestinian terrorists in Turkey
  • 14 Oct 1977: Flight to Dubai (airports in Beirut, Damascus, Bagdad & Kuwait are closed) where flight captain Schumann informs the security forces about the number of hijackers
  • 16 Oct 1977: Flight to Aden (South Yemen) where Schumann conducts an emergency landing because the authorities have blocked the runway
  • 16 Oct 1977: The terrorist leader executes captain Schumann without warning after he returned a few minutes late from an outside inspection of the aircraft
  • 17 Oct 1977: Flight to Mogadishu where the Landshut lands at 04:30 hrs
  • 17 Oct 1977: The hijackers pour alcohol over the hostages, prepare the aircraft to be blown up & issue an ultimatum until 15:00 hrs
  • 17 Oct 1977 – 15:30 hrs: The German government pretends to accept the demands but states that the release & fly out of the RAF terrorists require more time
  • Extension of the ultimatum until18 Oct 1:30 hrs
  • 18 Oct 1977 – 00:05 hrs: GSG 9 assaults the Landshut & frees all of the hostages
  • 18 Oct 1977 – 00:12 hrs: Chancellery minister Wischnewski informs Chancellor Schmidt of the successful operation
  • 18 Oct 1977: Baader, Ensslin & Raspe, imprisoned leaders of the first generation of the Red Army Faction, commit suicide
  • 19 Oct 1977: Murder of Hanns Martin Schleyer


Consequences & Impact

  • 10 victims of left-wing terrorism in the conduct of the German Autumn
  • All of the passengers of the Landshut are rescued
  • The left-wing terrorism in Germany has passed its climax
  • The “Offensive 77” of the RAF fails & the leaders of the 1st generation commit suicide
  • The German authorities prevail & demonstrate that they cannot be blackmailed by terrorists
  • Begin of legendary reputation of the GSG9 which helps to deter terrorists