Searching for clues: September 5, 1977 at the scene of the kidnapping of employer president Hanns Martin Schleyer in Cologne. The four RAF terrorists shot Schleyer’s driver and three police officers.
The state security of the GDR used the kidnapping of Hanns Martin Schleyer for their perfidious disinformation work – and relied on the help of a former SS man.
In the late afternoon of September 5, 1977, Hanns Martin Schleyer got into his dark Mercedes 450 SEL in front of the Federal Headquarters of the German Employers’ Associations on the banks of the Rhine in Cologne. The employer president wanted to go to his official apartment in Cologne-Braunsfeld. As usual, three bodyguards followed in a civilian vehicle. When the small convoy was almost there, a yellow car abruptly reversed out of an exit. Schleyer’s driver was able to brake in time, but the escort vehicle pushed the employer president’s car onto the blocking vehicle of the RAF commando “Siegfried Hausner”. A blink of an eye later, the four terrorists opened fire. Schleyer’s driver and the three police officers were dead. The terrorists dragged the employer president, who was unharmed, into a VW bus and sped away.
Political correspondent in North Rhine-Westphalia.
In a large-scale manhunt of unprecedented proportions, the security authorities were feverishly searching for Schleyer and his kidnappers. Crisis teams met constantly, the latest computer technology was in use. Enormous excitement also prevailed in the headquarters of the GDR state security in East Berlin. Shortly after the kidnapping, Erich Mielke’s deputy gave the order to immediately and comprehensively clarify everything. So the West German radio traffic was recorded and the telephone lines of the Federal Criminal Police Office and the crisis teams of the Federal Government of Chancellor Helmut Schmidt (SPD) were tapped. In their book published last year on the role of the Stasi in the Schleyer case, Georg Bönisch and Sven Röbel write that the GDR agents’ primary concern was to find out whether the searches could have “impact on operational work”. After all, a particularly large number of GDR spies worked not only in the ministries in the federal capital Bonn, but also in Cologne and the surrounding area, for example in the police or in the residents’ registration offices.