Silke Bischoff (1970-1988)

On August 16, 1988, a bank robbery in Gladbeck, Germany went wrong, degenerating into a series of events that were to shock Germany, and indeed all of Europe.

Two bank robbers, hardened criminals Dieter Degowski and Hans-Jürgen Rösner, robbed the branch office of the Deutschen Bank in Gladbeck, taking hostages and around 400,000 Deutschmarks. Under pursuit by German police and with massive media attention, the robbers fled with their hostages. Along the way, they picked up another (female) accomplice, 15-year-old Emanuele di Giorgi, heading to the coastal city of Bremen. Due to the many reporters getting in the way, the police briefly lost the hostage-takers' trail, on the 17th, but picked it up again.

On the evening of the 17th, an attempt by the police to capture the robbers and free the hostages resulted in the death of Emanuele di Giorgi. Shortly thereafter, a traffic accident during the pursuit resulted in the death of a police officer.

By this time, the bus containing the robbers and their hostages had a trail of about 60 police and media cars following in their wake. It wandered across the border into the Netherlands, then back into Germany. Most of the hostages managed to escape from the bus, but the hostage-takers fled in a car with two of the hostages, Ines Voitle and Silke Bischoff, two young women from Bremen.

On the afternoon of August 18, 1988, police corralled the car on the A3 Autobahn near Frankfurt. A shootout ensued, wherein Silke Bischoff was killed (by Rösner) and Ines Voitle was wounded.

The events of the hostage drama were shocking to Europe, but equally shocking was the level of media frenzy that the hostage situation had engendered. Many Europeans asked whether the massive media attention had contributed to the tragic conclusion of the situation - whether the press had, in fact, caused the shootout by pressuring the hostage-takers and the police.

The public, always eager for martyrs, had its own take on the tragedy. Within a month, graffitti with the text "Silke Bischoff sterbt für uns" (Silke Bischoff died for us) was appearing all over Germany.

Some time later, in 1991, when the immediate attention had died down, Felix Flaucher and Frank Schwer formed a band named for Silke Bischoff, releasing their first album, "Silke Bischoff" (also known as "This is the New Religion"). Like Rammstein, they had chosen to capture (or, in less forgiving terms, to ghoulishly exploit) the Zeitgeist by naming their band for a tragic contemporary event.

Silke Bischoff (the band) went on to produce a number of albums, until May 2002, when they renamed themselves 18 Summers (the age Silke Bischoff was when she died). Their complete discography is:

I wonder what Silke Bischoff's family feels about the band...

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