Gudrun Ensslin

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Gudrun Ensslin (German pronunciation: [ˈɡuːdʁuːn ˈɛnsliːn]; 15 August 1940 – 18 October 1977) was a founder of the German militant group Red Army Faction (Rote Armee Fraktion, or RAF, also known as the Baader-Meinhof Gang). After becoming involved with co-founder Andreas Baader, Ensslin was influential in the politicization of Baader's voluntaristic anarchistic beliefs[citation needed]. Ensslin was perhaps the intellectual head of the RAF. She was involved in five bomb attacks, with four deaths, was arrested in 1972 and died on 18 October 1977 in what has been called Stammheim Prison's Death Night.


Early life

Ensslin, the fourth of seven children, was born in the village of Bartholomä in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Her father, Helmut, was a pastor of the Evangelical Church in Germany. Ensslin was a well-behaved child who did well at school and enjoyed working with the Evangelical Girl Scouts,[1] and doing parish work such as organizing Bible studies. In her family, the social injustices of the world were often discussed, and Gudrun is said to have been sensitized to social problems in West Germany and the world as a whole.

At the age of eighteen, Gudrun got the chance to spend a year in the United States of America, where she attended high school in Warren, Pennsylvania. She graduated in the Honor Group at Warren High School in 1959. After returning home, she finished the remaining requirements for her German secondary education.[2]

Like her partner Bernward Vesper and other members of the Red Army Faction (such as Ulrike Meinhof and Horst Mahler) Ensslin had excellent exam scores and received a scholarship from the German National Academic Foundation. Studying at the University of Tübingen, she read education, English Studies, and German studies as well as meeting Bernward Vesper in February, 1962.[3]

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