Paul Bloomquist is a highly decorated lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, when on May 11, 1972, a bomb planted by the Red Army Faction (RAF) explodes in the IG-Farben building situated on Goethe University’s Westend Campus and at the time the headquarters of the U.S. V Corps. Bloomquist is killed by a splinter. The attack marks the beginning of the RAF’s so-called “May Offensive” aimed at fighting U.S. policy in Vietnam. The offensive ends abruptly, when, after an hours-long police operation with an exchange of gunfire, on June 1, 1972, RAF members Andreas Baader, Holger Meins and Jan-Carl Raspe are arrested in a garage in Frankfurt’s Dornbusch district. Fellow RAF member Gudrun Ensslin is captured a few days later in Hamburg. By mid-July, the investigating authorities had arrested the most important RAF members.
For Bloomquist’s relatives, the attack remains incomprehensible to this day. To see the site of the terrible attack, Kevin Bloomquist (2nd from right), one of Paul’s nephews, as well as other family members paid a visit to Goethe University this August, where they met, among others, with Lucia Lentes, who offers English-language tours of the campus. “This tour was deeply personal for the Bloomquist family, and left everyone deeply touched. Standing on the spot where their uncle died some 50 years earlier and learning the details surrounding his violent death was very moving, and the family living in Arizona was able to learn a lot of new information. They were also not familiar with the role played by the U.S. in Frankfurt after World War II – something we Germans take so much for granted – and with the development of the site from a military installation to a university campus. They were incredibly grateful to the university for making this guided visit possible,” Lentes reports. A plaque commemorating Paul Bloomquist’s death will soon be installed on the building.