Thomas Gerlach: flat-out refusal to testify successful – “Brüder Schweigen”
Witness Thomas Gerlach had to come to Munich three times in order to finally be successful against presiding judge Götzl with his strategy of simply refusing to testify. Already during his questioning on 1 July 2014 and 10 July 2014, Gerlach had stated quite clearly that he would not make statements concerning the Hammerskin organization since that would not be in line with his “code of honor.”
Presiding judge Götzl had threatened him with fines and detention for contempt each time. The Wohlleben defense had brought into play a ten year-old investigation against the Hammerskins which they claimed could give Gerlach a right to refuse to testify.
Götzl had requested and received the case files of that investigation, but had apparently not dealt with it in any detail. Today, his questioning was directed at the imposition of detention for contempt. However in the early afternoon, after the hearing had been interrupted several times, he stated quite surprisingly that Gerlach had a right to refuse to answer all questions having to do with the Hammerskins.
This is a finding which the presiding judge could already have reached in July had he considered the question then. Now he provided the Wohlleben defense with an opportunity for showboating and Gerlach with a victory over the court. What’s more, Gerlach could from then on refuse to answer unpleasant questions from victims’ counsel by claiming that they concerned the Hammerskins.
What nonetheless remains clear is that Mundlos, Böhnhardt and Zschäpe must have remained in close contact with the Nazi scene after the dissolution of “Blood & Honour”. Both accused André Eminger, who supported them since their flight to Chemnitz, and accused Ralf Wohlleben had close contacts to the “Hammerskins” which filled the hole left by “Blood & Honour.“
The crowning event of the day was that accused Eminger wore a greeting to his brother in spirit in the form of a T-Shirt stating that “Brüder schweigen – bis in den Tod” (“Brothers keep silent – until death”). “Brüder schweigen” is not only a quote from a Waffen-SS song, but also a self-description of murderous Nazi terrorist group “The Order” from the United States, which committed several murders and other attacks and which is deeply revered by “Blood & Honour” as well as the Hammerskins. Eminger’s brother, Maik Eminger, had already worn such a shirt when he was summoned as a witness on 29 July 2014. The Nazi scene uses such events to show its bond, but also to make a mockery of the trial. All the more important that all available methods be used to uncover the NSU’s structure and its network of supporters.