Missed Opportunity? Hopes Pinned on NSU Trial May Be Dashed, Part 1

Published on Spiegel Online International, by David Crossland, May , 2013.

The NSU neo-Nazi trial opening on Monday offers a chance for Germany to face up to the presence of violent right-wing extremists and to tackle racism in its institutions. Anti-Nazi groups warn that the lack of real change since the case came to light in 2011 means the country risks missing that opportunity.

Germany’s biggest neo-Nazi trial ever will start on Monday in the glare of the domestic and international media when right-wing extremist Beate Zschäpe, 38, believed to be the sole surviving member of the National Socialist Underground terrorist group, will face charges of involvement in the murders of 10 people, most of them immigrants … //

… They Photographed My Father As He Lay Dying:

  • The execution-style killings, all committed with the same Ceska Browning pistol, were carried out in cities across Germany between 2000 and 2007. The police never seriously considered that the motive may be racism and instead suspected that the victims, who included a flower seller, a grocer and a part-time tailor, themselves had links with criminal gangs.
  • “After the murderers shot my father in the face they photographed him as he lay dying,” Semiya Simsek, the daughter of Enver Simsek, a flower wholesaler who was shot dead on Sept. 9, 2000 at his roadside flower stall in Nuremberg, told the newspaper Die Welt last month. He was the first victim. The police believed the family was behind the killing, and also suspected he was smuggling drugs from Holland.
  • “One explanation is the prejudice against foreigners and Turks that is deeply ingrained in people’s minds,” said Simsek. “This influenced the investigation for years and led them into the one, wrong direction.”
  • The cases were only solved by chance, and not until November 2011, when two members of the group, Uwe Böhnhardt and Uwe Mundlos, committed suicide after police closed in on them following a bank robbery, one of 15 with which they had funded themselves over the years while living in Germany, untroubled by the police.
  • Police found the Ceska murder weapon in an apartment in Zwickau, where the two men had lived with Zschäpe for three years. She had set fire to the apartment as soon as she heard of the suicides. When she left, she handed her two cats to a neighbor but didn’t help a disabled elderly lady who lived in another flat of the burning building. Zschäpe is also accused of arson and attempted murder.

Will Zschäpe Finally Testify? … //

… NSU Discovery Hasn’t Triggered Much Change:

  • But even though the Munich trial will spark a new flurry of attention, the everyday beatings, the intimidation and the abuse of immigrants by neo-Nazis around Germany will go on, say anti-racism campaigners and people who help the victims of violence.
  • On the ground, they say, not much has changed since the discovery of the NSU caused nationwide public uproar.
  • Asked whether he had the impression that authorities were getting tougher on neo-Nazis, Bernd Wagner, the founder of Exit, a group that helps neo-Nazis to quit, told SPIEGEL ONLINE: “No, I can’t detect that anything has really been learned,” said the former policeman. “Many police officers, especially leading ones, feel harassed and insulted by the criticism. Most of them are working in the same way they did before November 2011, the spirit hasn’t changed. It seems that the political leadership and their own superiors aren’t demanding it either.”
  • Biplab Basu, an Indian-born anti-racism campaigner who works for Reach Out, a Berlin-based group that helps victims of racist violence, hasn’t seen any improvement either.
  • “We had hoped that the behavior of authorities would change, at least for a year or two, but unfortunately we’re seeing that this isn’t the case,” he told SPIEGEL ONLINE.

(full text incl. hyper links).

Part 2: Accusations of Institutional Racism.

Links:

Girl Next Door: The Making of a Neo-Nazi, on Spiegel Online International, by Julia Jüttner, May 03, 2013 (14 Photos in the Gallery): Having refused to comment on her alleged crimes, Beate Zschäpe, the only surviving member of the murderous NSU neo-Nazi terror cell, remains an enigma. With her trial set to begin on Monday, prosecutors hope to illuminate the character of a woman described by neighbors as outgoing and likeable …;

Nazi Bride case highlights rising influence of women in Germany’s far-right movement, on NBCN, by Andy Eckardt, May 4, 2013.

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