23 July 2014

Lies and Trivialization, Part VIII – Andreas Rachhausen

The trial day with a report by the presiding judge that the witnesses summoned for the morning had called and told him that he would not appear – he had become lightheaded and would have to visit a pub. Götzl recounted this phone call in a rather jocular manner, which was also how it was taken up in the media. However, there is a serious background to it: the witness used to be a member of a criminal youth gang together with Uwe Böhnhardt. After he had talked to the police, he was involved in a car accident and the rest of the group left him lying severely injured and did not offer any help. When he did survive and was brought to the hospital, he was threatened by the rest of the group. It seems that he still suffers from serious anxiety when confronted with this past.

The court next heard witness Andreas Rachhausen, one of the leaders of the “Thuringia Home Guard” (Thüringer Heimatschutz, THS) besides Tino Brandt. Like Brandt, Rachhausen also sold information to the domestic secret service, albeit in a somewhat less institutionalized role. The files contain only two “meeting reports” concerning these activities – as of now it is not known whether there are further reports, whether reports may have been destroyed.

Rachhausen appeared with his lawyer, right wing attorney Jauch, who had himself been summoned to testify on 8 July 2014.

Rachhausen was first questioned by presiding judge Götzl for several hours and claimed that the THS had been more or less a front, that there had been no relevant structures, that he had only seen a small number of THS meetings in the “Heilsberg” pub which consisted mostly of drinking. He also claimed to have hardly known the accused, Uwe Böhnhardt and Uwe Mundlos and to have had no contact to Nazis outside Germany. He admitted to having towed a car on behalf of Wohlleben and Kapke, but claimed to not have known any details. This was in fact the car used by “the Three” in going underground.

Later, upon intense questioning by victims’ counsel, Rachhausen had to admit that he had been filmed by German TV magazine “Spiegel-TV” during paramilitary exercises (so-called “Wehrübungen”) and urban combat training with Nazis from Böhnhardt’s clique. He had also worked in the “Heilsberg” pub at the time when the THS meetings were going strong, meaning that he was present at practically all such meetings. In 1992, he was one of the organizers of a “Rudolf Hess-march” in Rudolstadt, which was attended by 1800 Nazis from all over Germany and all of Europe. When he was wanted for aggravated assault, he fled to Belgium, the US and Denmark, where he found refuge with Nazi cadre and Auschwitz denier Thiess Christophersen.

Rachhausen stated that he had told Brandt that he worked for the secret service. Generally, it had been known in the scene that, “whenever four people were sitting together, two of them were working for the secret service”. However, this had been no problem as he had only told the service banalities.

Rachhausen’s questioning will be continued on a later trial day.

What became clear during the entirety of his testimony so far was that he lied in order to downplay his role in the THS as well as the importance of the THS generally. However, it also became clear that the Nazi scene in Thüringen had experience with people going underground when wanted by the police and that, from 1992 at the latest, German Nazis were well-connected nationwide and globally. It became obvious that “armed resistance” was being discussed, trained and used as a propaganda vehicle via the media. The Nazis thus used violence in a two-fold way: on the hand by means of individual attacks, on the other hand through intimidation by means of public announcements via the media or stickers etc.

Years before the first NSU murder, the use of weapons against political enemies was thus a normal topic for the Nazi scene in Thuringia and the THS. The secret service knew this and paid important protagonists large sums of money, but was only given useless information.

The trial day on 24 July, which would have consisted of the continued testimony of Thomas Gerlach, was canceled. The court has received several dozen binders containing the files of a “criminal organization” investigation against the Hammerskins as well as the files of an investigation against Gerlach charging him with weapons crimes. These files, which had only arrived at the court last week, will have to be viewed by all parties; on their basis, the court will have to decide whether Gerlach may be able to invoke the privilege against self-incrimination.