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“Message of the Landshut: we will not back down"

Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel talks in an interview about the plans to bring the Landshut, the Lufthansa aeroplane hijacked in 1977, back to Germany. Published in Bild on 27 July 2017.

Why is the Landshut so important to you personally?

October marks the 40th anniversary of the German Autumn. The Landshut played a major role in the drama that was RAF terrorism. No-one can forget the flickering TV images from Mogadishu, nor the huge relief when all the hostages were released unharmed.

I learnt of the sad fate of the Landshut in February. Everyone in my generation remembers the dramatic days of the German Autumn in October 1977, when the RAF kept the still young Federal Republic of Germany on tenterhooks and Palestinian terrorists attempted to force the release of the Baader-Meinhof Group by hijacking the Landshut. The hostage Hanns-Martin Schleyer, the RAF terrorists in Stammheim near Stuttgart, the odyssey of the Landshut through the Middle East and on to Mogadishu. Then the great relief at the news of the rescue. These are events which left a lasting mark on Germany and particularly on my generation.

What does the Landshut mean for us today?

The murderous terrorism of the RAF posed a serious threat to our democratic state based on the rule of law. The liberation of the Landshut at Mogadishu airport is to this day a potent symbol of our resilient democracy and a free society which does not back down in the face of fear and terrorism. The Landshut is thus much more than an old aeroplane, it is an inspiration.

What are your future plans for the Landshut?

I agree with Monika Grütters that the Landshut deserves to find a dignified, final resting place here in Germany. To this day, the story behind it remains compelling and has not lost any of its relevance at a time in which a quite different brand of terrorism threatens our peaceful coexistence. The message of the Landshut is: we will not back down. We will not give in to terrorism. We are stronger. We will not relinquish our values, our freedom, our state based on the rule or law and our way of life.

It is my hope that the Landshut will be back in Germany when we commemorate the 40th anniversary of the German Autumn. The Landshut belongs in Germany.

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