The network in Chemnitz
Today’s first witness was one of the agents of the domestic secret service who had been responsible for informer Tino Brandt. He stated that he had thought at first that Brandt was trying to dupe them, but that a good routine of day-to-day cooperation had later developed. He had had to “switch off” Brandt because the head of the office, Roewer, had felt that Brandt’s contact agent, Wiessner, was trying to go behind his back. Like last week’s secret service witnesses, today’s witness will have to return to Munich to testify again after Brandt has testified.
The court then questioned Thomas Rothe, who provided the first flat to “the Three” after they had gone underground. He first tried to stonewall with statements like “They appeared at my door, later they spent the night.” Patient questioning revealed that Rothe was a member of the Nazi music scene in Chemnitz and often had members of international Nazi bands as houseguests. He stated that Mundlos, Böhnhardt and Zschäpe not only lived with him for a while, but that he also continued to meet them, both in Chemnitz and in Zwickau, after they had moved out and until 2001.
He had been brought into contact with “the Three” by Thomas Starke, who had appeared at his door with them and asked him to allow them to move in for a while. Starke had also called him and talked about a TV report concerning the manhunt, stating that “you know who you have there.” Rothe admitted having been a member of “Blood and Honour”, the Nazi organization of which Starke was also a member and from whose ranks came many of the NSU supporters in Saxony. Thomas Starke will testify on Wednesday.
Interestingly, the presiding judge asked a number of questions regarding “Blood and Honour” even though the indictment only mentions that organization in passing. However, the witness refused to answer questions concerning other “B&H” members: After the presiding judge had threatened him with an administrative fine and coercive detention for refusing to answer, he referred to a criminal investigation against him regarding his “B&H” activities, which had only been discontinued in 2010 on the grounds of “minor guilt.” Rothe claimed a privilege against self-incrimination in connection with that investigation. The presiding judge interrupted his testimony in order to find out whether that privilege applies, which will require taking a look at the case file of that investigation. The witness will likely face considerable pressure from the court when he continues his testimony.