The shredding of Germanyʹs democracy
So is that it? The Munich court has now handed down a life term for Beate Zschaepe and shorter terms for other supporters of the NSU. Is this all that the most important German trial for decades has achieved? I have been following the tortuous hearings against the "National Socialist Underground" (NSU) racist terrorist group for five long years and now that it is over, there are still many unanswered questions.
Co-defendants tattooed with Nazi slogans who donʹt remember a thing; witnesses who suddenly commit suicide a day before they are due to give evidence; an intelligence officer present at one crime scene without noticing the murder; and officials who inadvertently shred key documents. Just a load of silly coincidences. And weʹre expected to believe that?
Nothing has been cleared up
The official line is that the NSU consisted of just three people. Two of them are dead, the third has now been sentenced. The trial is over; put a lid on it.
No. I am not ready to close the file on the NSU. Nothing has been cleared up. A handful of neo-Nazis have received jail terms, but the network that helped them has been left largely intact.
Those protectors of the constitution, who are first and foremost protecting their own failures, have kept their jobs, paid for by our – by my – taxes. The NSU terrorists must have also had local helpers, because they couldnʹt have carried out these murders without knowledge of the local area. But these supporters have not been identified and remain at large. Huge gaps in the investigation still remain. The trial is over, but for me and for many other people in Germany, the matter is by no means closed. Not to mention our fear of radical right wing violence, which still persists.
I already had a bad feeling back then, when it all started. There were sporadic reports in local newspapers on the first NSU murders, which received very little national coverage. Because the same weapon was used to kill in every instance, it reminded me of a series of murders in Sweden in the 1990s, when a right wing radical – who soon earned the nickname "Laser Man" – ambushed migrants with a laser sight shotgun.
Any one of us could be next
I started collecting media reports on these murders of migrants in Germany, dubbed the "kebab murders" at the time. And I wondered if serial killings in Norway would have been described as the "herring murders". I conducted my own research, putting calls in to the official government taskforce, named Bosphorus. But all they would say was there was nothing to report. Everyone I contacted involved in the case gave me the same response. They rejected any suggestion that these might be racist murders. No one wanted to reveal any information. Either that, or the murders were not considered to be important enough to be of any great concern. Just a few foreigners, after all.
I can still remember exactly what I thought at the time: if things get out of hand here too, if a racist serial killer like Laser Man is on the loose in Germany, then any one of us could be next. Including my family and myself.