Today in History
16.8.1988: The Gladbeck Hostage Drama
Behind the succinct news reports was the end of an unprecedented media and police drama in what was then West Germany.

Dieter Degowski and Hans-Juergen Roesner brutally robbed a branch of the Deutsche Bank in Gladbeck and took two employees hostage. They demanded 300,000 Marks and a fast getaway car. They were granted both. But it was then that the real drama began to unfold.

That same evening the two convicted violent criminals seized a public service bus with 25 passengers on board. They now had new demands, which they cold-bloodedly sent to the police via the journalists and television camera teams on the scene. The gangsters willingly gave interviews to the running cameras and microphones, openly threatening to blow up the bus if their further financial demands were not met.

The state TV station, ZDF, broadcast interviews with Roesner and Degowski at peak viewing time. Meanwhile the first casualty ensued. The police looked on helplessly as a 15 year old Italian was shot dead because overzealous comrades attempted to overwhelm accomplice Marion Loeblich in full view of the culprits, provoking the boy’s murder.

The getaway cars were changed and the hostages exchanged likewise. Two young women from the bus were forced to accompany the gangster duo together with the accomplice. Unobstructed, the two criminals travelled from Bremen to Holland and back to the Ruhr.

For Western German Radio WDR, journalist Ulrich Leidholdt reported: "Sometime late morning it turned out that the car was in Cologne, in the pedestrian zone, at a snack stand. Pedestrians and journalists crowded around the BMW. There were no police to be seen. Roesner sat in the front with his girlfriend and Degowski sat in the back with both hostages. One of them, Silke Bischof, was threatened with a weapon. It was quite an absurd scene. No police as far as the eye could see."

The masses of hurriedly following journalists proved to be a greedy mob, they stopped at nothing in order to get interviews and pictures.

"More and more people gathered around the car - a macabre scenario. Journalists interviewed hostages and kidnappers, a particularly macabre scene was when a photographer from a Cologne tabloid newspaper said to Degowski: 'Hold the gun on her temple again, I don’t have the photograph yet'.”

Their behaviour was embarrassing and even life threatening, as Ulrich Leidholdt noted: "The police behaviour was also critical. A police spokesperson who emerged wearing plain clothes and mingled in with the people, asked a kidnapper: What would they do if the police turned up? And Roesner answered: Then there’s going to be a bloodbath here."

The gangsters drove without restrictions from Cologne city centre onto the motorway towards Frankfurt with their hostages, accompanied by an impressive press convoy. But this attempted escape ended in more bloodshed. Special units rammed the vehicle in the vicinity of Bad Honnef and a wild shoot-out began. One hostage, the 18-year-old Silke Bischof was killed immediately, the second hostage sustained minor injuries and both gangsters and their accomplice were seriously injured.
Zitat des Tages
Zitat des Tages
Which of the following works was written by Charles Bukowski?
  Tropic of Capricorn
  Naked Lunch
  Post Office