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.