On this day in auto history - September 5th

Sun 5th Sep 2021

It was on this day in 1977 that influential German industrialist Hanns-Martin Schleyer - one of the main figures at Mercedes’ parent company Daimler-Benz - was kidnapped in a dramatic case which gripped Germany.

The outspoken executive had become a major figurehead for ‘big business’ in West Germany following his high-profile appointment as president of the industry association. This made him a prize target for the radical far left terrorist organisation, the Baader-Meinhof Group, who kidnapped Schleyer in Cologne after brutally ambushing his chauffeured Mercedes, killing his driver and three policemen.

The kidnapping of 62-year-old Schleyer - described by his captors as “the fat magnate” of the hated capitalist system - was intended to force the hand of the West German government to release imprisoned group leader Andreas Baader and other faction members.

However, after the West German government refused point blank to accede to Baader-Meinhof’s demands, Schleyer was eventually shot dead by the terrorists 44 days after his kidnapping.

As a tribute, the main public road leading to Daimler’s iconic Mannheim plant was re-named after Hanns-Martin Schleyer whilst Stuttgart also named its 15,000-seater indoor arena after him upon construction in 1983.