Monthly Archives: September 2014

30 September 2014

Today the court heard testimony from two contact officers of secret service informer Tino Brandt, as well as statements on Brandt’s testimony by parties. A third contact officer will testify tomorrow, several victims’ counsel have announced further statements on Brandt’s testimony.

We will report on both trial days tomorrow.

24 September 2014

On the testimony of informer and THS founder Tino Brandt – and on the question what the domestic secret service did and did not want to know.

The concluding day of Tino Brandt’s testimony again showed the NSU secret service scandal in its full dimension. From 1995 until 2001 when was uncovered as an informer, Brandt was the “best”, “most important”, “top” source for the service. During that time, the slimy informant, who still stands by his Nazi ideology, learned to give out just enough facts that they could count as “information” while at the same time being careful to limit what he divulged so as not to endanger the local or larger Nazi scenes. Quite to the contrary, he received at least 140.000 € from the service, most of which he used to build up the Nazi organizations led by him.

Wohlleben defense attorney took obvious pleasure in asking what these payments to Brandt had been used for: yes, Brandt confirmed, they had been used to pay dues for members of the Nazi party NPD in order to gain majorities in the Thuringia NPD and establish certain political standpoints within the party. These answers are of little use to the Wohlleben defense, but of potential use to the NPD in its defense in the current proceedings to abolish the party, which again shows the bond Wohlleben and his defense share with the NPD. Of course the fact that the radicalization of the party was partly the work of informers will play a role in these proceedings. It was obvious that Brandt enjoyed being able to do politics again.

He also reported that the service had told him from the beginning that it was not interested in crimes committed by Nazis, but only in demonstrations, leading personnel and the like. He had provided only information which the service could also have gained via other sources. This is quite believable – the entire case file of the proceedings in Munich show that none of the information given by Brandt led to the uncovering of crimes, let alone to an arrest. Even the information that Zschäpe, Böhnhardt and Mundlos would call him at a specific phone box at a specific time – information which would have enabled telephone surveillance leading directly to “the Three” – did not lead to any concrete measures aiming at an arrest.

Brandt now claims that he and his comrades had only conducted political activities by legal means. This is an obvious lie: Already involved in the German-wide network of militant neo-Nazis “Gesinnungsgemeinschaft der neuen Front” (“Community of Conviction for the New Front”), Brandt founded and led first the “Anti-Antifa Eastern Thuringia”, then the “Thuringia Home Guard”. These organizations collected addresses of perceived or actual political enemies, conducted hateful propaganda and used violence against their opponents on a massive scale. Another informer stated that Brandt had been called “Brandtstifter” (“fire starter”, a pun on his last name) by many in the scene. Brandt himself is obviously still full of pride when discussing firearms training in South Africa or France.

The court did not ask Brandt many questions. It was content with having him report on collection of money for the three who had gone underground and on the appointment for phone call detailed above. The federal prosecution, as was to be expected, did not ask a single question, keeping to its usual strategy of conducting the trial on the basis of its indictment as quietly as possible and without any criticism of the secret service and/or the police.

Only victims’ counsel succeeded in showing that in the witness chair sat a staunch Nazi reporting only what he wanted to and trying to give everyone the roundabout. These efforts are often criticized as making a conviction for Zschäpe harder to achieve. Such dangers are likely much overstated, and more importantly, an easy conviction of Zschäpe is not worth the price of letting responsible politicians and administrators as well as additional NSU supporters and members of the hook.
The question remain how Brandt could remain in the employ of the secret service for such a long time and only report on worthless trivia. One likely explanation is the political situation in Thuringia at the time. The administration, above all the ministry of the interior, was aggressively anti-communist. A police unit tasking with investigating Nazi crimes and also having an eye on the organizations behind those crimes was dissolved. The danger of Nazi groups was systematically trivialized, anti-fascist groups were persecuted. It was not the Nazi murderers to be who were perceived as disturbing, but Pastor Lothar König and his “Young Parish” who for many years were attacked by the “Thuringia Home Guard.” The fire bombings and pogroms against “non-Germans” were used as an argument for abolishing the right to asylum.

This type of politics continues until today, as shown not only in the nonsensical trial against pastor König for his tireless work against the Nazi march in Dresden. The domestic secret service agencies continue to recruit a large number of informers and through them to pay Nazi groups large sums of money. The racist policies to keep refugees out of the country continue unabated. One answer to the NSU’s crimes and the involvement of the State therein would be to finally allow all persons living in Germany to vote in German elections. This would be one first consequence to be drawn from that scandal, one real consequence rather than just Sunday speeches and reforms giving further powers to the very agencies that have already proven unable to do anything worthwhile with the powers they already have.

But the German state only actually combats political murder when this is in keeping with mainstream opinion. Criminal proceedings against the organizations supporting the NSU are on hold while there is a discussion of marking the ID cards of suspected “islamists” to keep them from moving the country.

Hundreds of “Nongermans” were killed by Nazis and racist in the last thirty years, were beaten to death, burned to death, shot, hundreds more were severely injured. But for the German state, the migrants themselves are still the real danger.

23 September 2014

Informer Tino Brandt: the secret service was not interested in Nazi crimes.

The first two witnesses today were a police officer and a judge from Zwickau who had interviewed the old lady who only by chance was rescued from the burning house in the Frühlingsstraße.

The Zschäpe defense made every effort to try to present the interview conducted by the judge in a bad light – despite the fact that that interview only showed the old lady to be incompetent to testify. They also tried to get the police officer to confirm that Zschäpe had rung the old lady’s doorbell before fleeing the scene. Legally speaking, however, this would only confirm Zschäpe knowledge that the old lady was at home and that Zschäpe thus acted in the knowledge that her neighbor could die in the fire. In any event, ringing the doorbell would not be enough to establish “abandonment of an attempt” and free Zschäpe from criminal responsibility.
The testimony of the next witness, Tino Brandt, will continue tomorrow, as planned. We will report on the entirety of his testimony then. Two interesting statements by Brandt, long-time informer for the domestic secret service in Thuringia, are worth reporting already since they show how that service works when it deals with Nazis.

Asked about his “truthfulness as a source”, Brandt stated that he never made any reports dealing with crimes by members of the Nazi scene. The secret service had simply not been interested in clearing up “bar fights” and had not asked about criminal acts.
Brandt also reported that in the early 1990s, he had reported to a “leading comrade” in the militant neo-Nazi scene, Kai Dalek who is now known to have been an informer for the Bavarian domestic secret service. Brandt had, inter alia, told Dalek about the interest of the Thuringia service in recruiting him as an informer. Dalek was a member of the German-wide network „Gesinnungsgemeinschaft der neuen Front“ (GdnF, „Community of Conviction for the New Front“), led by Christian Worch from Hamburg, and within that community was responsible for „leading” the scene in Thuringia.

Over more than a decade the secret service in Germany has claimed that there existed no organization of the militant Nazi scene coordinating the activity of that scene in the background. Antifascist groups had pointed out time and again the importance of the GdnF. Brandt’s testimony today again showed that they were right to do so – even groups like “Blood & Honour” were influenced and steered by this network.

22 September 2014

Information on Uwe Böhnhardt’s youth

The court only heard one witness today, a man who in the early 1990s was a member of a group of criminal youths together with Uwe Böhnhardt and Enrico Theile. According to the indictment, Theile was involved in procuring the Ceska pistol for Böhnhardt, Mundlos and Zschäpe. Already in 1993, today’s witness had reported to the police that Böhnhardt, Theile and their acquaintance Länger had access to guns. He confirmed this statement in 2012 when interviewed by the federal criminal police.

Shortly after his 1993 statement, the witness had suffered life-threatening injuries when he crashed a stolen car. His “comrades” left him to die – apparently they had heard of his witness statement. Only one of the developed a “guilty conscience” and called the police. While the witness was recuperating in a hospital, some members of the group tried to enter that hospital – his family members were afraid that he was to be killed for making statements to the police. The witness was placed under police protection and in order to prevent further attacks, his family spread the rumor that he had been killed in the accident.

In his testimony today, the witness confirmed his 2012 statement according to which Böhnhardt often behaved very aggressively, but also very strategically planned certain acts such as car thefts. He also confirmed that Theile had had several weapons. However, it was also evident that the witness tried to downplay parts of his 2012 statement which incriminated Theile, Böhnhardt and others. Another part of his statement explained why he behaved in this way: he stated that he had drunk massive quantities of alcohol already in his youth, but that he had been sober for many years after the accident. It was only after his statement in 2012 that the events of the early 1990s, including the accident and the threats received thereafter, had come back in force. He started drinking shortly thereafter and is also currently suffering from anxiety attacks, for which he has recently started treatment.

His testimony today provided important insights into the mixed scene of Nazis and ordinary criminals in Jena. They not only confirm Böhnhardt’s propensity for violence, but also show that Theile was a logical contact when it came to buying a gun.

18 September 2014

More on the Ceska pistol and on the investigations of the investigative team „Bosporus“

The first witness today was the police officer who had questioned Hans-Ulrich Müller, according to the indictment the original buyer of the Ceska murder weapon. In the last interview conducted by this officer, Müller was asked about his contacts in Thuringia, including Enrico Theile, the next link in the pistol’s chain of custody. Müller admitted to knowing Theile as well as other persons from the intersection of criminal and Nazi scenes. However, he still denied having bought the Ceska pistol. However, his statements conflicted not only with those of his acquaintance, but were also contradictory and unbelievable by themselves.

Following his testimony, police detective Vögeler from the Nuremberg criminal police was questioned again – he had already testified on the investigations into the Şimşek and Özüdoğru murder cases on 1 August 2013. One topic today was a discussion between the investigative team “Bosporus”, which was conducting the investigation into the series of murders, and the criminal police in Cologne concerning connections between the murders and the nail bomb attack in Cologne – the Cologne police was in possession of videos showing the perpetrators. These investigations – like the entire investigation of “Bosporus” – remained without result. A proposal to conduct a profiling session on both the murders and the bombing attack was rejected by the Cologne police, who felt that it would be “like comparing apples and oranges.”
Vögeler was also asked about the common investigations with police from other federal Länder, above all the police in Hamburg and Dortmund. Again, he reported that there had been investigations, but these had not led to any concrete results. This was mainly because all police units involved considered the case only under the angle of “criminal acts by foreigners” – despite concrete statements by family members that this must have been the work of Nazis and despite concrete clues in that direction provided by witnesses. Vögeler today could or would not even remember that there had been such clues at the time.

At the end of the trial day, victims’ counsel made three motions for the hearing of evidence concerning the close involvement of “the Three” into the “Blood & Honour” scene in Saxony. These motions aim at showing that Zschäpe, Mundlos and Böhnhardt were fully integrated into the local Nazi scene during the entirety of their stay in Chemnitz, that they took part in leisure activities and political discussions and were even involved in the production of magazines and propaganda papers. This would again show that the NSU was an accepted part of the German Nazi scene which consciously followed and supported armed groups as part of the strategy to reach its political goals. That it was supported in this aim by informers and payments from the interior service has already been uncovered.

16 and 17 September 2014

On the origins of the Ceska murder weapon in Switzerland

Yesterday and today, the court heard two Swiss police officers who had conducted several interviews concerning the Ceska murder weapon between 2007 and 2012. Their testimony revealed that the gun was originally bought by Swiss national Hans-Ulrich Müller, albeit with the aid and in the name of an acquaintance. That acquaintance had first denied any involvement, but had finally stated in 2012 that he had bought the gun for Müller and received 400 Swiss francs for doing so. Müller had told him that he wanted to sell the gun in Germany and that it was better if Müller did not ask any questions.

In his interviews, Müller denied these allegations, but quickly got caught up in contradictions. He was arrested by Swiss authorities in 2012. When charged with aiding and abetting murder, he quickly stated that he had been arrested with a silenced Ceska pistol in Germany in the 1990s. He had in fact been arrested in Germany in 1997 – but the gun in question had been a Luger .22 without a silencer. By immediately referring to the silenced Ceska gun, which was frequently mentioned in the press from November 2011 on, Müller showed that he knew of the connection of the gun he had sold to the NSU murders.

The defense teams of Zschäpe and Wohlleben made much of trying to show supposed contradictions in the statement of the first policeman. They objected to his statement on the first interviews of Müller’s acquaintance being considered in the judgment. This is not quite understandable: for one, it is hard to see any reasons on which such an objection could validly be based. Most importantly, however, even if the court indeed set aside his testimony, this would not help the defense’s case at all – after all, it was only in a later statement that Müller’s acquaintance had admitted to his role in buying the gun.

The testimony of the second officer is not yet finished and will continue tomorrow.

5 September 2014

On Enrico Theile’s strategy as a witness

The first witness today was a federal criminal police detective who had questioned witness Enrico Theile. According to the indictment, Theile was involved in providing the Ceska pistol to “the Three”. In his testimony in court, Theile, as many Nazi witnesses before him, had answered evasively and claimed not to remember anything (see the reports of 28 April and 2 July 2014). Now the detective who had questioned him reported on Theile’s police interview.

Above all, his testimony today concerned one sentence contained in the minutes of that interview which Theile claimed not to have uttered: When asked why, after the uncovering of the NSU, he had been afraid of being arrested, Theile had answered that this was because “all the weapons had come from Müller.” According to the indictment, Theile had received the weapon from Müller and passed it on, via Länger, to the proprietor of the Nazi shop “Madleys”, who then gave the gun to Wohlleben and Schultze. The witness today confirmed that Theile had made the statement exactly as contained in the minutes. In addition, it became clear that Theile had lied from the very beginning, especially as to his knowledge concerning the Ceska pistol. Theile’s claims not to have had anything to do with the sale of the gun are not believable at all, his statement in court is an obvious case of perjury.

The older brother of André and Maik Eminger – who in contrast to his brothers is not active in the Nazi scene – relied on his right, as brother of an accused, to refuse to testify. In his statement to the police, he had tried to downplay his brothers’ Nazi activities.

4 September 2014

On the investigation against Zschäpe, Mundlos and Böhnhardt in Jena and on the house searched on 26 January 1998

According to the court’s time schedule, the testimony of Jürgen Dressler, a former detective of the Thüringen criminal police “state security division”, was supposed to take only one hour; Thomas Rothe (29.07.2014) was to continue his testimony afterwards. However, the testimony of Dressler – who was head of the investigative team “Tex” which had conducted an investigation against Mundlos, Zschäpe, Böhnhardt and other members of the “Kameradschaft Jena” concerning several fake bombs deposited in public places – ended up taking until shortly after 4 pm, Rothe was again sent home without having testified.

Dressler took over from the previous investigative team “Rex” the investigations concerning various fake bombs and letter bombs; he built the work of his team “Tex” on the basis of his predecessor’s results. While “Rex” had been tasked with investigating not only individual crimes, but also the structure of the militant right wing scene, the latter task was simply dropped when “Tex” took over.

The investigation was directed against members of the “Kameradschaft Jena” based on the obvious political motives behind the crimes as well as several concrete clues. “Tex” proposed that the prosecutor’s office consider broadening the investigation to include the charge of membership in a criminal organization, but this was not taken up.

The investigators felt that the perpetrators had to have a secret workshop somewhere and wanted to shadow Uwe Böhnhardt in order to find that workshop. However, due personnel shortages the police were only able to conduct surveillance for three days, without any result. They noticed, however, that the Thüringen domestic secret service also had Böhnhardt under surveillance. Dressler asked the service whether they could shadow Böhnhardt and, if they found the workshop, to provide the results to the police in a form that could be used in court. Shortly thereafter, the service provided a classified report naming a specific garage, but refused Dressler’s requests that the report be declassified. Dressler then wrote his own report stating the results of the surveillance as if they were the results of police work. On this basis, the court issued search orders for the garage.

The search was very badly prepared. Dressler, the lead detective, was away on training. The prosecutor in charge of the investigation had ordered the police not to take any further investigative steps without his say-so, but then he was not to be reached on the day of his search and neither, at first, was his replacement. The officers conducting the search did not even have the necessary tools to open a padlock and had to ask the fire brigade for support. This led to another garage close to the Böhnhardts’ apartment being searched before that containing the bomb workshop. The first garage also contained Uwe Böhnhardt’s car, with which he simply drove away unhindered by the police. Meanwhile, the police waited for the fire brigade to open the second garage, where they found bombs and associated material, several Nazi publications, many of whom Zschäpe had apparently subscribed to, and further documents such as lists of addresses.

It was on this basis that arrest warrants were drawn up for Böhnhardt, Mundlos and Zschäpe, who had gone underground in the meantime, on 28 January 1998. The search for them, as is well known, was unsuccessful even despite concrete clues that they had gone to Chemnitz. The extensive list of addresses found in the garage was not used for the investigations after the federal criminal police had deemed it “without relevance”.
What must strike observers as peculiar is that the secret service insisted that the surveillance report remain classified in the face of repeated insistence by Dressler that it be declassified – after all, what specific interest was to be served by keeping secret the results of a simple surveillance? What’s more, the garage was part of a complex surrounded by fences and with very limited lines of sight from the outside, making it hard to imagine how a simple surveillance would have led to finding the precise garage. One possible explanation is that the findings were in fact based not on surveillance, but on statements of an informer very close to “the Three”. Dressler did not want to confirm this possibility today, but he too could not find another explanation for the insistence of the secret service.

The Zschäpe and Wohlleben defense objected to the court using Dressler’s testimony regarding the objects found in the search, basing this objection on the fact that Dressler had, in his report, presented the results of the secret service report as the product of police work.