Stefan Wisniewski
Stefan Wisniewski is a former member of the Red Army Faction
Red Army Faction
The radicalized were, like many in the New Left, influenced by:* Sociological developments, pressure within the educational system in and outside Europe and the U.S...


Early life

Wisniewski was born in 1953 in Klosterreichenbach, a part of Baiersbronn
Baiersbronn is a municipality in the district of Freudenstadt in Baden-Württemberg in southern Germany. It is situated in the Black Forest on the Murg river.Administratively, Baiersbronn consists of the following nine villages:* Baiersbronn* Friedrichstal...

, Baden-Württemberg
Baden-Württemberg is one of the 16 states of Germany. Baden-Württemberg is in the southwestern part of the country to the east of the Upper Rhine, and is the third largest in both area and population of Germany's sixteen states, with an area of and 10.7 million inhabitants...

, in the Black Forest
Black Forest
The Black Forest is a wooded mountain range in Baden-Württemberg, southwestern Germany. It is bordered by the Rhine valley to the west and south. The highest peak is the Feldberg with an elevation of 1,493 metres ....

. He was the son of Gisela, a widowed refugee from East Prussia
East Prussia
East Prussia is the main part of the region of Prussia along the southeastern Baltic Coast from the 13th century to the end of World War II in May 1945. From 1772–1829 and 1878–1945, the Province of East Prussia was part of the German state of Prussia. The capital city was Königsberg.East Prussia...

, mother of three, and of Stanislaw Wisniewski from Kutno
Kutno is a town in central Poland with 48,000 inhabitants and an area of 33,6 km2. Situated in the Łódź Voivodeship , previously in Płock Voivodeship . It is the capital of Kutno County....

, a former forced labourer in German Arbeitseinsatz
Arbeitseinsatz was forced labour during World War II when German men were called up for military service and German authorities rounded up labourers, some from Germany but more from the occupied territories, to fill in the vacancies...

 during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, who died on 9 October 1953 in Tübingen. His father had not returned to Poland, believing he would not like the communists in power
People's Republic of Poland
The People's Republic of Poland was the official name of Poland from 1952 to 1990. Although the Soviet Union took control of the country immediately after the liberation from Nazi Germany in 1944, the name of the state was not changed until eight years later...

 there. During his youth, Wisniewski's mother warned him not to mention his father's past, since a number of former SS
The Schutzstaffel |Sig runes]]) was a major paramilitary organization under Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. Built upon the Nazi ideology, the SS under Heinrich Himmler's command was responsible for many of the crimes against humanity during World War II...

 and SA
The Sturmabteilung functioned as a paramilitary organization of the National Socialist German Workers' Party . It played a key role in Adolf Hitler's rise to power in the 1920s and 1930s...

 members lived in the village.

In 1968, Wisniewski abandoned an apprenticeship as electrician
An electrician is a tradesman specializing in electrical wiring of buildings, stationary machines and related equipment. Electricians may be employed in the installation of new electrical components or the maintenance and repair of existing electrical infrastructure. Electricians may also...

, and was then forced in 1969/1970 to live in reform school
Reform school
A reform school in the United States was a term used to define, often somewhat euphemistically, what was often essentially a penal institution for boys, generally teenagers.-History:...

, from which he fled seven times within a year. At the time, other future members of the RAF, Ulrike Meinhof
Ulrike Meinhof
Ulrike Marie Meinhof was a German left-wing militant. She co-founded the Red Army Faction 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...

 (Bambule) and Gudrun Ensslin
Gudrun Ensslin
Gudrun Ensslin was a founder of the German militant group Red Army Faction . After becoming involved with co-founder Andreas Baader, Ensslin was influential in the politicization of Baader's voluntaristic anarchistic beliefs. Ensslin was perhaps the intellectual head of the RAF...

, protested also against such institutions. After his release, he moved to Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

, where he became an engineer aboard a ship. In the course of his travels, he said, he got to know the plight in the Third World
Third World
The term Third World arose during the Cold War to define countries that remained non-aligned with either capitalism and NATO , or communism and the Soviet Union...



In Hamburg, Wisniewski became involved in the left-wing scene. He protested the detention of RAF terrorists and participated in squatting
Squatting consists of occupying an abandoned or unoccupied space or building, usually residential, that the squatter does not own, rent or otherwise have permission to use....

s and in the protests against the conservative Springer press
Axel Springer AG
Axel Springer AG is one of the largest multimedia companies in Europe, with more than 11,500 employees and with annual revenues of about €2.9 billion. The Company is active in a total of 36 countries, including Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Russia and Germany, France, Spain, Switzerland...

. After the death of Holger Meins
Holger Meins
Holger Klaus Meins was a German cinematography student who joined the Red Army Faction in the early 1970s and died on hunger strike in prison.-As a Revolutionary:...

, a member of the RAF, as the result of a hunger strike
Hunger strike
A hunger strike is a method of non-violent resistance or pressure in which participants fast as an act of political protest, or to provoke feelings of guilt in others, usually with the objective to achieve a specific goal, such as a policy change. Most hunger strikers will take liquids but not...

 in 1974, Wisniewski joined the group. In 1975, he went into hiding. In the summer of 1976, Wisniewski was in a training camp of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine is a Palestinian Marxist-Leninist organisation founded in 1967. It has consistently been the second-largest of the groups forming the Palestine Liberation Organization , the largest being Fatah...

 (PFLP) in Southern Yemen
The Republic of Yemen , commonly known as Yemen , is a country located in the Middle East, occupying the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, and Oman to the east....


In August 1977, he participated in a bank robbery
Bank robbery
Bank robbery is the crime of stealing from a bank during opening hours. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Uniform Crime Reporting Program, robbery is "the taking or attempting to take anything of value from the care, custody, or control of a person or persons by force or threat of...

 in Essen
- Origin of the name :In German-speaking countries, the name of the city Essen often causes confusion as to its origins, because it is commonly known as the German infinitive of the verb for the act of eating, and/or the German noun for food. Although scholars still dispute the interpretation of...

, to finance the upcoming kidnapping of Hanns-Martin Schleyer, an employers' representative and former SS member. Wisniewski was not only part of the group which kidnapped Schleyer, he was also the one who called the shots at the scene of the kidnapping. While his collaborators shot Schleyer's driver and body guards, Wisniewski drove the van which Schleyer was taken away in. It is believed that it was Wisniewski, nicknamed Die Furie (the fury), who later transferred Schleyer from Cologne to another group hideout in Brussels
Brussels , officially the Brussels Region or Brussels-Capital Region , is the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union...

, Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

, in the trunk of a car. Weeks later, Schleyer was shot and killed in a forest after the passengers of kidnapped German Lufthansa Flight 181
Lufthansa Flight 181
Lufthansa Flight 181 was a Lufthansa Boeing 737-230 Adv aircraft named Landshut that was hijacked on October 13, 1977 by four members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine...

 had been rescued by the GSG 9 commando following negotiations by German politician Hans-Jürgen Wischnewski
Hans-Jürgen Wischnewski
Hans-Jürgen Wischnewski was a German Social Democrat politician....



On May 11, 1978, Wisniewski was arrested at Orly Airport
Orly Airport
Paris-Orly Airport is an airport located partially in Orly and partially in Villeneuve-le-Roi, south of Paris, France. It has flights to cities in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, the Caribbean, North America and Southeast Asia. Prior to the construction of Charles de Gaulle Airport, Orly was...

 in Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 and extradited to Germany. After his arrest, he was aggressive from the start. During an interrogation, he assaulted a custodial judge after jumping over two tables until he was subdued by a guard. For this, he would be convicted and sentenced to eight months in prison. On March 28, Wisniewski attempted to escape from prison. Somehow, he acquired a knife and scissors, which he used to overcome a guard. He bound and gagged the guard and locked him in a cell. While leaving the prison, Wisniewski was spotted by a guard. While being returned to his cell, Wisniewski attacked the director of the jail with a sock filled with batteries. During the trial, which took several months, Wisniewski went on hunger strike, but was force-fed. On December 4, 1981, Stefan Wisniewski was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for murder, kidnapping, coercion of a constitutional body, and membership in a terrorist organization. He commented the verdict by saying that he did not care.

In an 1997 interview with die tageszeitung
Die tageszeitung
die tageszeitung , was founded in 1978 in Berlin. It is a cooperative-owned German daily newspaper which is administrated by a workers' self-management...

, a German daily newspaper, Wisniewski called the murder of Schleyer a "disaster". He explained that setting the hostage free without receiving anything in return would have been a sign of weakness. The same year, Polish writer Hanna Krall
Hanna Krall
Hanna Krall is a Polish writer.-Childhood:Krall is of Jewish origin. During World War II she lost some of her close relatives. She survived the war only because she was hidden from the Nazis.-Journalism:...

 interviewed him and wrote a story about him. In 1999, he was released on parole. The judge considered his renunciation of his actions credible.

In 2007, the fellow RAF terrorists Peter-Jürgen Boock
Peter-Jürgen Boock
Peter-Jürgen Boock is a former member of the Red Army Faction.-Earlier life:After completing secondary school, Boock began training as a mechanic but soon quit. Claiming that his father was a staunch Nazi, Boock then left his parents’ home and travelled to the Netherlands...

 and Verena Becker
Verena Becker
Verena Becker was a West German member of the Movement 2 June and later the Red Army Faction. She was under the control of West German intelligence since 1972 at least.-Terrorist career:...

 stated that Wisniewski had also been involved in the shooting of the federal prosecutor Siegfried Buback
Siegfried Buback
Siegfried Buback was the Attorney General of Germany from 1974-1977.Buback studied at the University of Leipzig. From 1940 to 1945 he was a member of the Nazi Party. From 1945 to 1947 he was a POW...

, who was killed by the RAF in 1977. Wisniewski's involvement is now being investigated by the police.
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