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Research Paper

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University of Nevada, Las Vegas

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Las Vegas, Nevada

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Advanced Undergraduate Winner

The Red Army Faction, active from 1970-1998, was an infamous West German far-left terrorist group. Its ideology and numerous terrorist acts not only left a lasting impact upon the politics and culture of Germany, but noteworthy is also the fact that the group inspired the creation of countless works of art. This research paper seeks to understand and explain this phenomenon. It argues that the artworks inspired by the RAF are a form of Vergangenheitsbewältigung, a peculiarly German concept “coming to terms with the past,” most often used in relation to fiction and art exploring the Nazi era. The paper begins with a description of the RAF’s establishment and history, and then offers a consideration of some of its members’ relationships to the arts. The zenith of RAF-related art occurred after the group’s dissolution in 1998, so the paper analyzes artworks before and after this year in two separate portions of this text. It devotes particular attention to the concept of Prada Meinhof, which is a critique of the way that extremist views and terrorism are sometimes used as an aesthetic and alternative stage upon which to perform. The analysis of numerous works of art shows that while the earlier examples tended to analyze or discuss the RAF’s existence in a serious manner, later works tended to satirize or even glamorize the group.


Red Army Faction; Baader-Meinhof Gang; West German terrorism; Left-wing terrorism; Vergangenheitsbewältigung; Art; Film; Prada Meinhof


Contemporary Art | European History | German Literature

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Reflections on Art and Terror.docx (15 kB)
Research Essay