Ulrike Meinhof

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Ulrike Marie Meinhof (7 October 1934 – 9 May 1976) was a German left-wing militant. She co-founded the Red Army Faction (Rote Armee Fraktion) in 1970 after having previously worked as a journalist for the monthly left-wing magazine Konkret. She was arrested in 1972, and eventually charged with numerous murders and the formation of a criminal association. Before the trial concluded, Meinhof died in her cell in 1976.


Early life

Ulrike Meinhof was born in 1934 in Oldenburg, Germany. In 1936, her family moved to Jena when her father, art historian Dr. Werner Meinhof, became director of the city's museum. Her father died of cancer in 1940, causing her mother to take in a boarder, Renate Riemeck, to make money. In 1946 the family moved back to Oldenburg because Jena fell under Soviet rule as a result of the Yalta agreement. Ulrike's mother, Dr. Ingeborg Meinhof, worked as a teacher after World War II[1], and died 8 years later from cancer. Renate Riemeck took on the role of guardian for Ulrike and her elder sister.

In 1952 she took her Abitur at a school in Weilburg. She then studied philosophy, sociology, Pädagogik (roughly pedagogy) and Germanistik (German studies) at Marburg where she became involved with reform movements.

In 1957 she moved to the University of Münster, where she met the Spanish Marxist Manuel Sacristán (who later translated and edited some of her writings) and joined the Socialist German Student Union, participating in the protests against the rearmament of the Bundeswehr and its involvement with nuclear weapons as proposed by Konrad Adenauer's government. She eventually became the spokeswoman of the local Anti-Atomtod-Ausschuss ('Anti-Atomic Death Committee'). In 1958, she spent a short time on the AStA (German: Allgemeiner Studierendenausschuss, or General Committee of Students) of the university and wrote articles for various student newspapers.

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