In the 1960s, the young democracy of West Germany was embarrassed by its Nazi past, and ingrown in its role as imperialist and capitalist outpost faced by its communist double. The postwar generation, in direct conflict with their fathers, was trying to find its place. The student movement exploded in 1966. The pas de deux between students and the government deteriorated, and radicalized those involved in a gradual escalation of violence and reprisals. From this seething youth emerged the journalist Ulrike Meinhof, filmmaker Holger Meins, students Andreas Baader and Gudrun Ensslin, as well as the lawyer Horst Mahler. When the student movement collapsed at the end of ’68, they remained isolated in their radicalism, and desperately sought ways to continue the revolutionary struggle.
The French movie A German Youth (Une Jeunesse Allemande), filmed in 2015, chronicles the political radicalization of some German youth in the late 1960s that gave birth to the Red Army Faction (RAF), a German revolutionary terrorist group founded notably by Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof, as well as the images generated by this story. The film is entirely produced by editing preexisting visual and sound archives and aims to question viewers on the significance of this revolutionary movement during its time, as well as its resonance for today’s society.