She was born 1940 in the village of Bartholmä in Baden-Württemberg, the daughter of a pastor of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD). From conventional, religious beginnings, she became the intellectual head of The Red Army Faction (RAF) or, as it became later known popularly, The Baader-Meinhof Gang.
At the age of 18, due to her excellent school exam results, she received a scholarship to spend a year at an American High School in Pennsylvania, after which she continued her education at The University of Tübingen, where she read Philosophy, plus English and German Studies. In 1965 she moved to Berlin where she worked on a Doctorate at The Free University - and perhaps surprisingly, appeared in a ‘somewhat pornographic’ experimental film entitled ‘Das Abbonnement’. In Berlin, she became increasingly involved in political protest movements and met, the intellectually inferior Andreas Baader, with whom she planned to actively fight ‘The System’ with violence, beginning in 1968 with the fire-bombing of two large department stores in Frankfurt and continuing until her arrest in 1972, when she was imprisoned in Stammheim Prison, Stuttgart.
A series of attempts to free her followed, including abduction and the hijacking of a Lufthansa airliner, which culminated in the death of a prominent businessman Hans-Martin Schleyer on October 17th 1977.
The following morning, Ensslin was found hanging in her cell. The official verdict on her death was suicide, however sympathizers insist that her death had been an extra judicial execution, though evidence would seem to suggest that this is highly unlikely.