My Life as a Terrorist: The Story of Hans-Joachim Klein

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On December 21, 1975, six terrorists from the Revolutionary Cells, led by Carlos 'The Jackal' forced their way into the conference room of the OPEC headquarters in Vienna and took seventy ministers hostage. A gun battle with the police ensued, and three people were killed. One terrorist was seriously wounded. The terrorists managed to escape to Algiers with a few hostages and the wounded man. There the hostages were released. The wounded terrorist was Hans-Joachim Klein.




85 min


Alexander Oey

At the moment that Klein arrived in Algiers, he decided to quit terrorism. The only question was how. Quitting would be seen as treason, and Carlos was known for his relentless position about this. Klein escaped with the help of an old comrade from the student movement. This comrade was Daniel Cohn-Bendit, and he would continue to help him in subsequent years, until Klein’s arrest in 1998. When Klein broke away from terrorism, he took refuge in the countryside of Normandy and continued to hide there for many years.

Klein blamed himself for realizing too late what terrorism was about. He now sees that he was used by Middle East organizations. While Klein thought the OPEC action was in support of the Palestinian cause; in reality it turned out to be a way for Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to get a better grip on OPEC. Klein believed in the idealism of terrorism, but there proved to be great political powers at work that had their own agenda. In 1998, he let himself be arrested in Normandy.

The documentary The Terrorist Hans – Joachim Klein shows how the personal events in the life of an individual can lead to radicalism and terrorism. Director Alexander Oey reconstructs the life of Hans – Joachim Klein and unravels Klein’s earlier choice for terrorism. Then up to the present, up to the moment that the terrorist has returned to village life, Oey films his daily existence in the Normandy countryside while Klein tells his life story. Oey travels back to Germany with him and meets Klein’s old friends such as European parliament member Daniel Cohn-Bendit. Can they remember the moment when a divergence of opinions arose between those who became radical and those who decided to remain on a straight path?

Directed by
Alexander Oey

Director of Photography
Jackó van ’t Hof

Edited by
Chris van Oers

Benny Jansen

Eva Rink

Executive producers
Christian Beetz
Femke Wolting
Bruno Felix

Line Producers
Gerhard Hehrlein

Commissioning Editors
Esther Schapira (HR)
Jutta Krug (WDR)

My Life as a Terrorist – The Story of Hans-Joachim Klein
  • „Just in diesem Moment überraschen uns die aus dem Theaterbereich stammenden jungen Regisseure Hans Block und Moritz Riesewieck mit einem erstaunlichen Dokumentarfilm, der seit Monaten Publikum und Kritik auf den wichtigsten Festivals der Welt elektrisiert. Völlig zu Recht: Es ist, als würden einem die Scheuklappen weggerissen, als sähe man das, was sich seit Jahren direkt vor unseren Augen abspielt, zum ersten Mal unverschleiert... eine fesselnde ,Doku noir' mit höchstem Anspruch...Dieser Film müsste an allen Schulen gezeigt werden.“
    Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

In co-production with

  • wdr

Produced by

  • navigator

In co-production with

  • submarine
  • hr
  • vpro
  • wdr

In collaboration with

  • arte

Supported by

  • media
  • EU Commission
  • FFA Filmförderungsanstalt
  • DFFF
  • medienboard

Supported by

  • media
  • EED
  • nrw