October 18, 1977
Daimler-Benz executive found dead
On September 5, Hanns Martin Schleyer, a Daimler-Benz executive and head of the West German employers’ association, was kidnapped in Cologne by the Red Army Faction (RAF) during an assault in which his driver and three police were killed. The Red Army Faction was a group of ultra-left revolutionaries who terrorized Germany for three decades, assassinating at least 30 corporate, military, and government leaders in an effort to topple capitalism in their homeland. Six weeks after the kidnapping of Schleyer, Palestinian terrorists, who had close ties with the RAF, hijacked a Lufthansa airliner to Somalia, and demanded the release of 11 imprisoned RAF members. On October 17, after the pilot was killed, a German special forces team stormed the plane, releasing the captives and killing the hijackers. The RAF’s imprisoned leaders responded by committing suicide in their jail cell in Stammheim, and Schleyer’s murder was ordered. The next day, October 18, Hanns Martin Schleyer was found dead in Alsace, France.