Children of the Revolution: The Red Army Faction and the Rise of Modern Terrorism in the 1970s


Jonathan Kirby

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In the 1970s, the world saw the dramatic ascendancy of modern, international terrorism into the spotlight of global politics - most prominently through the actions of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. However, what was perhaps even more perplexing and challenging to western democratic societies in the 1970s was the terrorism that emerged from within, as a myriad of "first world" countries spawned their own domestic terrorist groups: Japan had its Red Army, Italy the Red Brigades, the United States had the Weather Underground, England the Angry Brigade, and West Germany faced the Red Army Faction. My study questions the origins, beliefs, and decisions of such groups, with a focus on the RAF: what factors led to their formation and dedication to armed struggle? What actions did they take? What were their political beliefs? Most importantly, what was their relationship to authority, the public, the intellectual community, the past, and each other? In an analysis of the actions, politics, structure, and reception of the RAF and other groups, I aim to confront issues that challenge us today: where does terrorism come from? How does it justify its violence? How is it perceived by the communities it emerges from? However, such questions cannot yield simple answers, and I do not aim to give a simple ?narrative? structure to terrorism. If anything, my study problematicizes the simplistic and commonly held view of terrorists as madmen (and madwomen), as well as simplistic solutions to the threat terrorism poses


Wellington Chan and Joshua Goode




Corey Raffel Fellowship and Ford Research Endowment

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