Kommune 3 Wolfsburg
The Kommune 3 (Wolfsburg) (K3) in the Breslauer Strasse in Wolfsburg (home of Volkswagen) was started in March 1970 by Ilse Schwipper (1937 - 2007). The name Kommune 3 was a clear reference to the Kommune1 and Kommune 2 in Berlin, and the antiauthoritarian ideas of the Berlin communes were influential on the formation of the new group. The members of the commune were mostly young people, with Ilse the oldest at 34. She was seen as the head of the commune, in the sense of the brains behind it rather than its leader. She was also the only woman, living there with her 3 children. The foundation of the commune took place parallel to a campaign to support an imprisoned member of the mens commune in Morse, a village about 5 miles from Wolfsburg. There was some fluctuation in the membership of the commune, but there was always a solid core of communards. All the members came from a working class background. The group were interested in antiauthoritarian education, self-management, and "cultural revolution". They also discussed the ideas of armed struggle.
Police raids and arrests - 1971:
At the end of 1970, the police in Wolfsburg had the suspicion that the members of the Kommune 3 were responsible for a number of politically motivated crimes. After a number of actions in April and May 1971, including arson attacks, and bomb threats against neo-nazis, politicians and police, the police raided the commune and a second commune nearby on the 10th. June. The nine members of the commune were arrested and held in prison without bail until their trial. Five of the commune members pleaded guilty, Ilse and two others not guilty. One of the commune members lead the police to a site in the woods in Wolfsburg - Detmerode where small arms and ammunition were hidden.
The court case - 1972:
The court case in Hildersheim lasted seven weeks, from February to April 1972. The supporters of the commune claimed that the members of the commune were being repressed because of their political activities, which included helping deserters from the german army, prisoners and runaways from childrens homes. The prosecution claimed that there was no political background to the trial. The young communards were given probationary sentences, Ilse was sentenced to 3 years in prison.
A second commune and more arrests:
On her release from prison in 1973, Ilse started a second commune in an old farm house in Wolfsburg - Hesslingen, the Kommune Bäckergasse. Again, most of the commune members were young people who were active in the radical-left. This second commune had links to the Movement 2nd. June urban guerrillas. After the death in June 1974 of a member of the Movement 2nd. June, Ulrich Schmücker, who had been suspected of being a police agent, Ilse and the five other communards were arrested under suspicion of being connected with the murder. At the end of the first trial, June 1976, the young commune members were convicted under "youth laws" to jail sentences of between 4 and 8 years, and Ilse was given a life sentence. She was released for reasons of bad health in 1982. (From the total of 12 years that she spent in prison, more than 6 were spent in solitary confinement/isolation). After a number of appeals, the 4th court case was finally ended in 1991 with freedom for the accused based on no clear decision of guilt; it was no longer possible to reach a verdict, partly because of the involvement of police agents in the radical left. It had become the longest trial in West German history. (See also the role of Peter Urbach in the Wielandkommune).
Sources and external links:
- An interview with Ilse Schwipper in "Schrittweise (Geschichte der Kommunebewegung), Uwe Kurzbein, in "Das Kommunebuch", Verlag Die Werkstatt, Göttingen, 1998.