27 November 2013

Zschäpe’s family: her mother does not testify, her cousin „does not remember“

Two family members of Beate Zschäpe were called to testify today and to afford the court a glimpse of the personality and development of the main accused. Her mother, however, refused to testify, as is her right as mother of the accused. She only spent three minutes in the courtroom.

Her cousin, Stefan A., did testify. He describes himself as a fun-oriented member of the skinhead part of the Jena Nazi scene, someone who did not have much to do with politics. “One gets incited by the music, it describes what many thought back then – against the state, against foreigners, against leftists, against communism”, he describes the atmosphere in Jena in the 1990s. Beate Zschäpe was part of that scene. The witness describes her as confident. Her first serious boyfriend had tried to dress the part, but had not been accepted by the scene. Zschäpe later hung out with Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Böhnhardt, who were very interested in Nazi music and politics.

When it comes to his own role, however, he denies having had a relevant position in the Nazi scene of Jena. Asked about police dossiers and other documents describing him as one of eight members of the “Kameradschaft Jena”, he tries to downplay his role. From this point on, he answers nearly every question by claiming memory gaps – hardly any memories of concerts attended, of trips to Nuremberg, of conversations. He does at least relate that Uwe Mundlos was in charge of upholding the contact to Thomas Starke, imprisoned Nazi and later informer for the domestic secret service – Mundlos also delivered greetings from the witness to Starke. However, A. claimed not to remember that Starke, as well as another acquaintance, were likely leading members of “Blood and Honour” Chemnitz. A. obviously follows the parole passed out to witness from the Nazi scene – “forget everything”. He only admits having taken part in a KKK-style cross burning and having shown the “Kühnen salute”, a variant of the Nazi salute, after pictures of these events have been shown in court and there is no use denying. Again, he claims not to have known what that signal meant.

The court does not pressure him – after all he has already said what was needed to confirm the indictment: Beate Zschäpe was self-confident, had her men under control, was a member of equal standing of the Nazi scene surrounding her, Mundlos, Böhnhardt, Kapke, Gerlach and Wohlleben.

A.’s testimony will continue tomorrow. Other witnesses originally called for tomorrow have been postponed, with the exception of a former girlfriend of accused André Eminger.