6 June 2013

Accused Gerlach apologizes to the victims, but claims to have known nothing.

At the request of accused Carsten Schultze, the rest of his testimony was moved to next week, when expert witness Prof. Leygraf will be back in the courtroom. This trial day was instead devoted to the testimony of co-accused Holger Gerlach. He is charged with having provided the members of the NSU who had gone underground with his driver’s licence and passport as well as other documents. In addition, he is accused of having transported a pistol to “the Three” in 2001 at the behest of co-accused Ralf Wohlleben. However, since the investigation did not resolve the question whether this pistol was used in the NSU’s crimes, this crime is statute-bared.
Gerlach admitted having committed all these acts and apologized to the victims of the NSU for the suffering which Böhnhardt, Mundlos and Zschäpe had caused them. However, he stressed that these had solely been acts in support of friends. He claims to not have had any idea that the three would commit violent crimes. He stressed several times that he was just as clueless as all German police and secret service agencies had been at the time. Gerlach read a pre-written statement and was not willing to answer questions.
Earlier, he had made statements on his curriculum vitae and had also answered the presiding judge’s questions on that topic. In contrast to co-accused Schultze, he freely admitted to having been a neo-Nazi and to having harbored xenophobic views. He also stressed that he and his friends had not been Skinheads who “run around beating people up”, but had tried to achieve real political change. He claims to have exited the scene in 2004, but admits to still being friends with some of his old political allies.
His apology and his claim of having known nothing about the murders of “the Three” are not very believable. Gerlach acknowledged again today that he had provided “the Three” with a gun in 2001. In an earlier statement during the investigation, he claimed to have said that one could not “presume to try and save the world with five people”. Today, he claimed not to have used those exact words. Nonetheless, it seems likely that he saw himself, Wohlleben and “the Three” as a coherent group of three illegal members and two legal members who could provide support for their deeds. This obviously stands in clear contradiction to his claim to not have had any idea that the NSU would commit violent crimes. Another reason not to believe his claim is that he was active for many years in the Nazi scenes of Jena and Hannover, scenes which were particularly militant and openly propagated violence against different-minded people and “Nongermans.”
His claims of having “exited” the Nazi scene will also have to be thoroughly scrutinized – for example, he has admitted to having participated in several Nazi marches in 2005, but had claimed that this was simply a friendly turn.
One of the NSU victims asked for the opportunity to comment on Gerlach’s statement, but the presiding judge did not give him the floor.