Let us go back to the year 1977, maybe some of you were not even born. In the month October, the 13th day a plane left the airport at the Spanish island Palma de Mallorca to fly to the German city of Frankfurt. The Lufhansa plane carried 86 passengers, many of whom had enjoyed a holiday at this island.
A few months earlier in Germany the leftwing terrorist group Rote Armee Fraktion (RAF) had killed a director of a bank. The very same RAF kidnapped an important member of the German industrial establishment. These actions were all attempts to achieve the release of 11 members of the RAF. All to no avail, for the West German government did not budge.
Entering now is the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), just like the RAF a leftwing terrorist group and secular as well. The PFLP decided to help the RAF in its demand for the release of the 11 RAF members.
On October 13, 1977 a group of 4 PFLP members took over control of the Lufthansa flight on its way to Frankfurt, demanding the release of the 11 terrorists and a fair sum of money. What followed was a journey from airport to airport and finally the plane landed at Mogadishu airport and the hijack was ended on the 18th of October by the German anti-terror commando GSG 9 that had been formed four years earlier.
Now enters the German writer Friedrich Christian Delius. He has written a novel about the hijack. Not a historical account from different perspectives. He has choosen one perspective. The novel has been written from the perspective of the German woman Andrea Boländor, who is thirty years old. Son in this novel we do not get any outside perspective, not about the people who captured the plane, not about the German government to get the passengers released, not the place where the plea lands and tries to land. Andrea can have hardly any contact with her fellow passengers. All have to be silent, all have to stay put. At times the passengers are being tied to the chairs. The staff of Lufthansa has to help in serving food and drinks and translating into German.
Andrea is stuck with her situation, the people sitting around her and her own thoughts. At times Delius shifts the chronology to find Andrea struggling with papers she has to fill out to claim support from the government. To her the set questions do not fit her situation and that makes reading the questions a gruesome experience. At other times Andrea reflects about her reasons for travelling to Palma da Mallorca. She thinks about her lover and how she could see him again.
Delius has managed to write a captivating book, from the perspective of one lady on one chair at a window seat (Fensterplatz). Never a dull moment in this book. I tried to guess with Andrea what the next airport would be, what the response of the terrorists would be, how her fellow passengers would act, how the Lufthansa staff would keep cool.
Friedrich Christian Delius – Mogadischu Fensterplatz – 1987