Monthly Archives: November 2014

27 November 2014

Another nonsensical defense challenge for alleged bias

Today, the court first heard an expert witness, a linguist with the federal criminal police. She had compared the “NSU letter”, which the organization had sent to other Nazi structures, with letters written by Beate Zschäpe. The result of her study is that it is possible, but not proven that Zschäpe had authored the “NSU letter”.

The next witness was a police officer who had questioned Beate Zschäpe and Ralf Wohlleben in the 1990s. He remembered hardly anything of those interviews. When presiding judge Götzl started to read out the minutes of that interview in order to ask the witness whether they helped refresh his memory, the Zschäpe defense intervened.

At the end of the whole charade, the Zschäpe defense, joined by the Wohlleben defense, once more challenged the presiding judge for alleged bias. Court was adjourned for the day; a decision on the defense challenge is expected before the next trial day on Tuesday – with the guaranteed outcome that the challenge will be rejected as it is utterly without merit.

Apparently the defense is trying to feign strength and activity – maybe a signal for next week when a possible supporter from Chemnitz, then-husband of witness Antje Probst, and secret service informer Carsten Szczepanski are to testify as witnesses.

26 November 2014

Lies and Trivialization, Part X – „that feeling of comradeship that one knew from the army was somehow continued within the scene.”

There are certain trial days in the trial against members and supporters of the “National Socialist Underground” which are hard to endure and accordingly hard to report on. One of those days was the trial day of 26 November 2014. The court had summoned as a witness Ralph Hofmann, who is suspected of having given an ID card to Böhnhardt, Mundlos and Zschäpe in 1999 and of having rented a flat for them so that they could order items from catalogues without paying. The ID card was found in the burned-out Frühlingsstraße apartment, along with items which had been ordered in his name and delivered to another apartment in Chemnitz rented in his name. Among these items, which were never paid for, were night vision goggles, i.e. items which could be used in conducting attacks.

In his police interview, Hofman had claimed to have lost his ID card in a shopping centre. He also related that one evening, Thomas Starke had asked him whether two “comrades” could stay in his apartment. This had been in front of a pub; Starke had been accompanied by two men with hoodies whom he had not recognized. Another Nazi witness testifying in court on 19 March 2014 has told the court that Hofman had brought Starke and “the Three” in contact with him and that he had provided an apartment for them – something which Hofmann had not talked about at all in his police interview.

Hofmann was never part of the “Blood & Honour” network, but was rather active in more political party-like organizations. Among others, he was a functionary of the “Home Guard Chemnitz” and until recently a frequent guest of events organized by the “National Socialists Chemnitz”, which were forcibly disbanded just this year.

Like many witness before him, Hofmann tried to make himself appear harmless and rather nonpolitical. “I did share some of the views. One was young and could identify with some of that. In the army time, due to the military aspect, one developed an affinity for elitist thought.”

The presiding judge first questioned the witness in a precise and patient manner, circling his false statements, but never succeeding in pinning him down. Hofmann claimed, in contrast to all his earlier statements, that Starke had asked him a second time whether he could provide housing for the “two men” and that he had referred Starke to an acquaintance. That this is an attempt to shield himself from suspicion was apparent, but was never made explicit. The presiding judge finally ended his questioning without having put pressure on the witness to change his false statements.

The defense of course did not ask any questions – the unearthing of further details concerning support provided to the NSU is contrary to its interests. But neither did the federal prosecution ask any questions – it seems as if the prosecution has lost all interest in an elucidation of the facts.

Victims’ counsel tried to put pressure on the witness, but in order to do so, they had to refer to and repeat questions asked by the presiding judge – as it was already afternoon and, as is so often the case in the afternoon, the court was becoming impatient, many of these questions were objected to as already having been answered.

Hofmann’s questioning finally ended in a confrontation between the Wohlleben defense and a victim’s counsel when the defense objected to the latter recounting the names of the NSU murder victims.

What became clear once more is that the Nazi scene not only supported the NSU in its murders, but that it has up to this day done everything to keep the NSU crimes from being adequately investigated. It also became apparent that it was not only the “Blood & Honour” scene that was involved in supporting the NSU, but also Nazi activists from outside the Skinhead scene. This further scene may well become relevant when it comes to the support provided after the forced dissolution of “Blood & Honour” in the fall of 2000. One clue in this direction is the fact that Hofmann’s phone number was found in André Eminger’s telephone under the name “Ralph Jäger” (Ralph Hunter). This name is likely a reference to Hofmann’s army time where he was part of a “hunter unit” – a reference, thus, which also shows that Eminger knew Hofmann quite well.

25 November 2014

Once more: on the pedigree of the Ceska 83 pistol and on the value of informer’s statements.

Today, the presiding judge first read out the minutes of the questioning of Hans-Ulrich Müller conducted by Swiss prosecutors on 24 June 2014. During that questioning, i.e. under oath, Müller had not made any claims that his ex-girlfriend or other persons had been involved in procuring the weapon. He had, however, also denied having bought the gun with papers provided by his acquaintance –something that his acquaintance had again related in his own interview.

Next up was accused Carsten Schultze, who was questioned about the statements of informer Tino Brandt and Brandt’s contact officer Wießner. The presiding judge obviously wanted to check the reliability of Brandt’s statements. Inter alia, according to Brandt, Schultze had told him that he had procured money for the Böhnhardt, Mundlos and Zschäpe who had gone underground – a statement which would show Schultze to be even closer to those three and which Schultze denied. As far as other statements by Brandt were concerned, Schultze stated that he did not remember, and that Brandt’s statements could be true.

The final witness was prosecutor Weingarten, who also represents the federal prosecution in the proceedings in Munich. He was asked about the questioning of witness Enrico Theile in which Theile had inter alia stated that “all the guns” had come from Müller. Police officers present at the interview had stated that Weingarten had once raised his voice vis-à-vis the witness, which had led the Wohlleben defense to claim that prohibited methods of examination had been used. Today, Weingarten related the questioning as it was represented in the minutes. Theile is very experienced when it comes to dealing with the police – it would be more than surprising if even a shouting prosecutor were able to influence him in any way. This can also be seen from the minutes – which, incidentally, Theile had refused to sign.

At the end of the trial day, defence and victims’ counsel made statements on the questioning of secret service informer Kai Dalek. Victims’ counsel stressed what Dalek’s statements meant for the work of the domestic secret service agencies:

„Dalek obviously identified fully with his work as de facto full time secret service agent. Had he admitted that he and the Bavarian secret service knew of the existence of guns and explosives, of a militarization and radicalization of the Nazi scene in Thuringia and above all of the “Thuringia Home Guard”, but had not done anything to counter those threats, this would have shown his work and that of the Bavarian secret service in a rather bad light. It is this background against which Dalek’s behavior in court must be considered, above all his attempts to evade questions and downplay his earlier statements to the police concerning the build-up of an armed wing of the “Thuringia Home Guard”, concerning gun training, the existence of guns and explosives.

Dalek did, however, confirm the statements by Brandt that the various secret service agencies protected their informers against criminal investigations, as the Bavarian service had promised to do for Brandt – adding only that they could influence criminal investigations only in Bavaria, not also in Thuringia.

The witness has also reported that his activities in the Nazi scene were closely coordinated with his contact officer in Bavaria. Inter alia, he was tasked to ensure that the “Thuringia Home Guard” did not spread to Franconia, a task he had fulfilled. He also stated that he had assumed that Brandt had also coordinated his political activities and the militarization of the “Thuringia Home Guard” with the service in Thuringia.

Against the background of this witness statement, it is evident that the Bavarian secret service must have a host of reports on the activities of the “Thuringia Home Guard” and on debates within that organization concerning violence, militarization, political activities etc. “

20 November 2014

Lies and Trivialization, Part IX – music friends in Saxonia.

The trial day began with a witness statement on the „weapons identification“ in February 2012 in which accused Schultze had been shown several guns with and without silencer from the “gun collection” of the federal police and asked to “identify” the murder weapon Ceska 83. As could be expected, this did not lead to any concrete results.

The court then heard witness Antje Probst, who according to statements of informer Carsten Szczepanski had been involved in supporting Zschäpe, Mundlos and Böhnhardt after they had gone underground, inter alia having offered to provide Zschäpe with a passport to leave the country.

Her testimony was interrupted after several hours of questioning by the presiding judge, it will continue on 10 December 2014. Probst put extreme effort into trivializing her activities. One situation that is characteristic for her statement: she denied having known the Eminger brothers. When told by the presiding judge that she had told the police that she indeed knew the Emingers, the witness answered “Oh shit! Of course now my credibility is really put into question.”

Probst also tried to get the court to believe that for her, “Blood & Honour” had not been a political activity: “We were talking in the pub, and we felt that it would be nice to have some music events…” Others from the group may have had political goals: “maybe a white world, people with white skin – maybe that played a role for some of them.” She reported that the group had organized one or two concerts per month, each attended by between 40 and 400 people.

She steadfastly denied having noticed or met the three who had gone underground – even after she had been shown a photo in which she can be seen right next to Mundlos and Zschäpe at a party or concert. She also denied having noticed that “the Three” had ended up in Chemnitz or anything to do with weapons, support for “the Three” or money being collected.

One interesting fact related by Probst concerned a discussion with Carsten Szczepanski sometime in 1997 or 1998: Szczepanski had told her that of the money made with concerts, 20,000 Marks were missing. Probst stated that she had believed that Szczepanski had used the money for his own purposed. However, her close friend Jan Werner (also a “B&H” member) had replied “You must be crazy, no one has stolen any money” and had ended the discussion by telling her to “shut up”. In other words, B&H had earned a lot of money with concerts, money which may have been one base of finance for the later NSU.

Before the questioning of Probst continues, the court will first hear her ex-husband, who was also active in the Nazi music scene, and informer Carsten Szczepanski – this will likely lead to a rather confrontative questioning of Probst.

19 November 2014

More from “lead comrade” Dalek.

The questioning of former secret service informer Kai Dalek was continued today. Victims’ counsel were the first to ask questions. Presiding judge Götzl, visibly tense, interrupted time and again, objecting to certain questions.

The Bavarian Ministry of the Interior, which had at first given Dalek only restricted permission to testify, now even allowed him to give the (assumed) names of his contact officers.
The former informer again gave very circuitous answers, but also seemed more ready than earlier to give concrete details. He stated that he had taken part in the “Wednesday meetings” of the “Thuringia Home Guard” (THS) over a period of more than two years and that he had each time reported to the Bavarian secret service, first orally on the day after the meeting, then in writing. This statement is important because these reports – which have not yet been provided to the court – would have enabled the secret service to check the reports of the “only” source for Thuringia, Tino Brandt, already at the time.

Dalek was shown a well-known film report by TV magazine “Spiegel TV” concerning a 1992 paramilitary exercise in Erfurt, where THS members trained for urban combat, followed by a disgusting diatribe by another informer, Thomas Dienel. Dalek admitted to having been present, but tried to downplay his co-informer’s incitement to violence by claiming that Dienel had been drunk. Asked by the presiding judge what evidence led him to that assumption, he could not state any – the film did not show any signs of inebriation on Dienel’s part.
In contrast to his statement to the police that Brandt had built up an armed wing of the THS, Dalek again claimed today that he had never seen a weapon in all of his time dealing with the THS. He also stated, however, that he had always warned that Brandt was pushing a dangerous radicalization of the people surrounding him.

Dalek’s testimony showed once more that the secret service was quite involved in building up the Nazi scene – he stated that he had only begun his Nazi activities in 1987 on the behest of the Bavarian secret service and that it was also on the behest of the service that he contacted Brandt and the THS. Dalek refused to state whether it was also on the behest of the secret service that he had built up the “Thule net”, a network of BBS mailboxes, claiming that his permission to testify did not cover that question. He did, however, stated that Brandt and maybe other THS members had been able to communicate via the Thule net, including encrypted communication. He also stated that Mundlos and other THS members could have gained access via other Thule net providers, e.g. via Erlangen.

Dalek also refused to state whether he had provided the service with a way to identify the users logged in to the Thule net and to monitor and copy any data traffic. He also refused to answer the question whether he had already worked for the state in Berlin, where he had lived before moving to Bavaria.

It has become clear that all documents of the Bavarian secret service pertaining to Dalek will have to be provided to the court in order to answer the question raised by his testimony, including the question whether Brandt in fact radicalized parts of the THS to the point where they later turned into the THS and whether the NSU could use the Thule net administrated by informer Dalek to communicate while underground.

18 November 2014

The legend of the NSU as an „isolated group“

One focus of the trial today concerned the various versions of the NSU videos found in the Frühlingsstraße apartment. Three versions were played in the courtroom, of which the first two were still very similar to the usual Nazi videos: music from a Nazi band, the NSU logo and texts as well as pictures concerning the murder of Enver Şimşek as well as the bombing attack in the Probsteigasse in Cologne. The third video is the “Pink Panther” video which was made later and which also refers to the other NSU murders.

The presiding judge stressed the importance of the texts contained in the video, such as the sentence, repeated after every NSU crime, that the victim “now knows how serious we are about preserving the German nation.” Beate Zschäpe had access to the computer containing the videos. There is concrete evidence, which will be considered in the following weeks, that she has worked on compiling the video. The series of murders was apparently planned beginning with the first attack, but the group apparently decided later on not to publicize its video directly after that attack.

The federal prosecution than gave its comments on the motions for evidence brought by victims’ counsel of 6 November 2014. As concerns the case file of the fugitive unit searching for Böhnhardt, Mundlos and Zschäpe, the prosecution argued that these should not be made part of the case file as it was not clear what would follow from it. However, it did not object to the officers of the unit testifying as witnesses. Apparently the prosecution is afraid that the case file would show how early the Thuringia police knew that the Three were in Chemnitz and had very concrete leads (known supporters with “Blood & Honour” Chemnitz, phone boxes used to communicate, etc.) which would have easily allowed finding them.

The prosecution also opposed the motion that central members of the militant Nazi scene in Dortmund be called to testify, arguing that the evidence heard so far had shown the NSU to be an isolated group working independently from other Nazis and that therefore there could not have been cooperation with Nazis from Dortmund. This claim seems laughable given that one of the witnesses named in the motion claims to be able to identify the guns used and elucidate their provenience and that the “Blood & Honour” scene in Dortmund was in close cooperation with “Blood & Honour” Chemnitz, the closest supporters of the NSU. Thus the federal prosecution opposed motions aiming to prove that the NSU was part of a network while claiming that there is no proof of the NSU having had such a network to rely upon.
The prosecution is obviously afraid that its theory of the NSU as an isolated group of three persons could be refuted – not realizing that it has already been refuted: in Chemnitz, Zschäpe, Böhnhardt and Mundlos were supported by “Blood & Honour” members and sympathizers, weapons and id documents were provided to them, there were attempts to also procure guns and money. The three were involved in the production of Nazi magazines and of T-Shirts. They lived normally in the scene, others met them at barbecues or out riding their bikes – hardly the life of a typical criminal who has gone “underground.” The NSU’s publications also clearly refer to a network. By refusing to follow the trail leading towards other armed groups, the prosecution shows that it is attempting to hinder the elucidation of facts concerning the NSU. Given the network of co-conspirators and supporters, it becomes harder still to believe that none of the various informers in the Nazi scene surrounding “the Three” had reported on their whereabouts and their deeds.

13 November 2014

Once again on the Ceska murder weapon.

The further testimony of the ex-girlfriend of Hans-Ulrich Müller – who had according to the indictment brought the Ceska murder weapon from Switzerland to Thuringia – did not bring much new. It became clear, however, that Müller had been everything but honest with her – an impression that accords with his actions towards the police and the court. Müller has been summoned as a witness for next week, but has already stated that he will not appear – despite having been offered “safe passage” by the court. It is obvious that the accusations brought by Müller against his ex-girlfriend shortly after his testimony in Switzerland were only meant to distract from himself and his pal Enrico Theile and that Müller is unwilling to repeat those accusations under oath.

The parties then commented on recent evidence. Victims’ counsel again stressed that the testimony of the police officer yesterday showed two facts: first, that the police had not conducted the investigation against “B&H” Saxony seriously enough, and second, that the federal prosecution has still not entered into the case file minutes of several witness statements which the officer alluded to yesterday.

12 November 2014

Informer Kai Dalek – a gabby braggard tries to backpedal

The first witness today was a federal criminal police detective who had conducted investigations concerning Jan Werner, former leader of “Blood & Honour” Saxony. Werner, who was proprietor of the Nazi label “Movement Records”, refused to testify in court, relying on the privilege against self-incrimination. It is suspected that “B&H” Saxony had decided to support the NSU with money and guns and that Werner had tried to procure a gun via Carsten Szczepanski, another secret service informer.

As is often the case at the federal criminal police, the officer had summarized several investigative actions by colleagues, but had conducted hardly any actions of his own. He was thus able to provide a good overview of the investigation, but not to relate any of his own perceptions. The defense objected to his testimony – this despite it being apparent that the court considered his testimony only as an introduction to the evidence relating to “B&H” Saxony.

Of course, the court will have to hear the witnesses and consider the other evidence alluded to by the witness. Victims’ counsel have already shown with several motions for evidence that all “B&H” members potentially involved in supporting the NSU will have to be called to testify; should they refuse to testify, previous interviews will have to be introduced via the police officers who had questioned them. In other words, the chapter “B&H” is far from being closed.

The next witness, Kai Dalek, was first used by the Berlin domestic secret service against leftist activists until 1987. From 1987 until 1998, he then worked for the Bavarian secret service. He was an important activist in the German militant Nazi scene, inter alia as coordinator of the annual “remembrance marches” for Rudolf Hess. The witness, a tall and massive 50 year-old, presented himself as a gabby braggard.

Dalek had been interviewed twice by federal criminal police while incarcerated and had asked for early release as consideration for his testimony. In those interviews, he had made severe accusations against Tino Brandt, that Brandt had built up an armed group within the “Thuringia Homeguard” (THS). Today, Dalek did not want to confirm these accusations, claiming instead that they were only inferences from Brandt having once thrown bottles at police officers, having fostered militant demeanor by THS activists and having once made an appointment with others to “go shooting”. Dalek claimed not to have any further concrete facts leading him to his earlier conclusions.

His attempts at downplaying his earlier statements came across as very unbelievable – Dalek was apparently motivated by a wish not to burden his old Nazi structures more than necessary. The court will, in order to review his testimony, have to consult the various reports Dalek had provided to the Bavarian secret service. When the trial day ended shortly after 6:30 pm, victims’ counsel had not yet asked Dalek any questions. His testimony will be continued next Wednesday.

11 November 2014

More on Tino Brandt and the „Thuringia Homeguard“

Today, the court once more heard the main contact officer of Tino Brandt, at the time leader of the “Thuringia Homeguard” (THS) and informer of the Thuringia interior domestic secret service.
The main topic was once more the support given by Brandt and other members of the THS to Zschäpe, Mundlos and Böhnhardt after they had gone underground. The various reports written by the witness after meetings with Brandt show once more that several “comrades” both from Jena and from Chemnitz were involved in this support and that early on, the secret service had the necessary information (concerning e.g. contacts and phone numbers used) in order to look for and find “the Three” in Chemnitz.

Other than that, the witness, by now pensioned, mostly feigned memory gaps, particularly when the actions of the secret service concerning right wing crimes were at issue. As reported, the police had complained that the service often warned its sources of impending searches. In the federal parliamentary inquiry, the witness had stated that roughly 30 investigations had been started against Brandt, of which none led to a conviction, but that this was a fact one could “live with”. Today he claimed not to remember what he had meant by that statement. Asked about statements from other sources that the service had financed a visit of Brandt to Nazis in the United States, the witness again claimed not to remember.

He also claimed to have no knowledge of attempts by the secret service to recruit a source under the code name of Delhi – the city in which accused Carsten Schultze was born and tried to evade questions on that issue.

What became apparent once more was that the secret service – at the very least that of Thuringia – had a very close, almost friend-like connection to its Nazi sources. Brandt was not made to tell anything he did not want to. The service was also well aware that among the supporters of the three who had gone underground was the “Blood & Honour”-scene in Chemnitz. Quite clearly, no honest attempt was made to arrest Zschäpe, Böhnhardt and Mundlos, let alone to disband the militant Nazi organizations and networks in Thuringia.

6 November 2014

Blood and Honor and Combat 18 in Dortmund

Victims’ counsel today brought important motions for evidence concerning the possible involvement of the Nazi scene from Dortmund inter alia in the murder of Mehmet Kubaşik. At the time of the NSU’s murders, a well-organized militant Nazi scene was active in Dortmund. Surrounding the band Oidoxie, there was an organized group called Streetfighting Crew“, which again was connected to a “Combat 18” group which, based on the “Blood and Honour”, aimed to start “armed struggle.” These groups were part of the nation-wide and international “Blood and Honour” network and therefore had the necessary connections to get their hands on guns, e.g. via Belgium.

One witness which is to be summoned is Sebastian Seemann, neo-Nazi and former informer of the domestic secret service. He was already questioned on 13 December 2011 and made statements concerning the build-up of the “Combat 18” cell in Dortmund by the singer of “Oidoxie”. At that time – the public was not yet discussing the “Turner diaries” – Seemann had stated that “the series of murders of Turkish and one Greek small business owners” was consistent with the description of attacks in the “Turner diaries.” He also made concrete statements concerning the possible source of the murder weapons, namely the modified Bruni which was used in several of the NSU murders and the TT33 used in the Heilbronn killing, and asked that he be given pictures of the guns in order to be able to give a more detailed statement.

Together with his good friend Michael Berger, who shot and killed three policemen in Dortmund on 16 June 2000, Seemann had taken part in gun trainings. Witness Robin Schmiemann, who in the meantime was in contact with Zschäpe via latters, stated that Seemann had incited him to commit an armed robbery on 2 February 2007 and provided him with a gun. Schmiemann used that gun to shoot at a Tunisian customer of the store he robbed.

One further aim of the motions is to find out to what extent Seemann was already in contact with the accused and/or the NSU in 1997. The build-up of a “Combat 18” cell in Dortmund in 2006, which had contacts to buy weapons, is one piece of evidence for contacts between the NSU and the militant Nazi cells in Dortmund which provided information on possible victims of attacks to the NSU. Until today, there is no other explanation for how the NSU knew about the Dortmund victim, no documents which could them staking out the environs have not been found.

Another witness to be called is the singer and front man of Nazi band “Oidoxie”, formed in 1995 in Dortmund. “Oidoxie” was part of the „Blood and Honour“ and“Combat 18“ networks, i.e. of that organization which according to the evidence so far supported “the Three” after their going underground in Saxonia. It is likely that the network was at least part of the network supporting the killers in carrying out their murders, at least with respect to that in Dortmund.

It will remain to be seen whether the court will grant these motions as well as further motions aimed at making files of investigations against these persons part of the Munich case file. If the court does consider this evidence, this would be the final death knell for the prosecution’s claim that the NSU had been an isolated group consisting of three persons and a few supporters. The court would – even more clearly than it has already done – position itself against the federal prosecutor’s office. On the other hand, the relevance of this evidence is more than clear and the court has already shown itself interested in the NSU’s connections to militant Nazi organizations such as “Blood and Honour”.

Today, the court heard a police officer from Dortmund who had noted a phone call to the police concerning the murder in Dortmund. He did not remember anything, but was certain that he had written everything down exactly as it had happened.

The court also continued the questioning of former „Thuringia Home Guard“ member and informer of the Thuringian secret service Andreas Rachhausen (see the blog post of 23 July 2014). His questioning did not lead to anything substantial. According to the leader of the political police in his home town of Saalfeld-Rudolstadt, Rachhausen was “one of the most dangerous right extremists of the time”. In his testimony, he tried to downplay his activities. Rachhausen had evaded arrest over a longer period of time by fleeing to Belgium, the United States and finally to Denmark, where he found refuge with Holocaust denier Thies Christopherson and helped Christopherson with sending out newspapers. In other words, the Nazi scene from Thuringia already had a network of contacts in Germany and several other states and was experienced in fleeing from the police by “going underground” – experience which “the Three” could benefit from via the “Thuringia Home Guard”.