Monthly Archives: December 2014

17 December 2014

On what was likely the NSU’s first attack in Nuremberg – and on the theoretical foundation for its crimes

Today the court heard a detective of the Bavarian criminal police concerning a bombing attack in Nuremberg in June of 1999. The proprietor of a pub in Nuremberg, a man with Turkish roots, had found a flashlight in the men’s room. Upon testing it out, it had exploded in his hands. Within the flashlight, there was a metal pipe filled with gunpowder; the pipe had been weakened with a saw in order to blow apart when the gunpowder exploded and to lead to severe injuries. That the victim had not been severely injured was likely only due to the fact that the end pieces had been blown off when the bomb exploded.

From the first report on this attack, the police had committed itself to the claim that there was no reason to suspect a political background. The witness today stated that the political police had been asked to help with the investigations, but was unable to report any concrete investigative steps undertaken in that regard. The investigations were carried out under the heading of negligently causing injury – how one goes about negligently putting a pipe bomb into a flashlight and negligently leaving it in a restaurant was not discussed in detail today. It was only the statement of accused Carsten Schultze in the courtroom in Munich which led to this crime being linked to the NSU. This of course also strengthens the other statements, incriminating to the other accused, made by Schultze on issues such as the support provided to the NSU, the provisions of guns to the organizations, political discussions concerning violence within the “Thuringia Homeguard” (“THS”), etc.

The court then read out several publications found in the garage in Jena which had been used to build the first bombs. Most important of those was the magazine “Sonnenbanner” (“Sun banner”), issued by informer and THS contact person Michael See. The magazine contains an article with instructions regarding organizing in cells, acting from underground, etc. and showing an elitist view of such activities which is particularly interesting, particularly as it was most likely read and discussed by the THS group in Jena, comprised inter alia of Beate Zschäpe, Ralph Wohlleben, Holger Gerlach and Carsten Schultze.

The article itself refers to a book with instructions for underground fighters by a certain “Major von Dach”, of which Tino Brandt had been sent several issued. The issue of cell structures is also dealt with in several other publications found in the garage. The methodology of “the Three” as seen in the evidence presented in court exactly conforms to that given in the article, especially as concerns Beate Zschäpe and her attempts to present a “normal” front in public and avoid all openly political statements and activities. What is not yet clear is when the magazine was made and therefore how long it was discussed in the group in Jena. Publisher Michael See would be able to answer the first question at least, victims’ counsel have already moved that he be called as a witness.

The court also read out the first issue of Nazi magazine “Der weiße Wolf” (The White Wolf) and other documents. “Der weiße Wolf” is of particular interest because its publishers had contacts to the scene in Jena, were later sent a “donation” from the NSU and published a thank you note and the statement “It has borne fruit”. Parties also viewed a drawing of a skeleton wearing a Wehrmacht uniform, which was later used in the “Pogromly” board game, and other drawings.
Finally, the court issued several decisions denying motions for evidence brought by victims’ counsel. We will consider these decisions in more detail in the next few days. It seems that the court issued these decisions in order to show that it will not allow an alleged “broadening of the evidence-taking by victims’ counsel” as claimed by federal prosecution, defense and certain members of the press.

The trial day tomorrow has been canceled as the police officer who was to testify is still sick.

16 December 2014

Lies and Trivialization, Part XII – Continued Questioning of Michael Probst

Today the court continued the questioning of Michael Probst, ex-husband of Antje Probst, then member of “Blood & Honour” Saxony. When first questioned, Probst had stated that he refused to answer questions concerning his ex-wife so as not to incriminate her – “after all it is possible that she had something to with it” (see the report of 3 December 2012). Today Probst appeared again with a witness counsel – and answered questions concerning his wife, but tried hard to downplay her role. He claimed that she had played a “female role”, had only been member of “B&H” out of “romantic enthusiasm” and had not had much to say. Probst was confronted with reports of informer Szczepanski who reported otherwise, who stated that Antje Probst had tried to push the “B&H” scene in the direction of attacks – but he repeated his trivializing claims. He was, however, forced to walk these views back somewhat and to admit that his ex-wife had at least once made sure that collected money reached the recipients, that she had acted very close-mouthed around him as far as internal “B&H” matters were concerned, and that the group had acted in a very conspirative manner.

Probst claimed on the one hand that he had not shared the views of “B&H” and other organizations, but on the other hand also tried to trivialize these views: According to him, the goal of “B&H” had been “patriotism, maybe a sort of increased national pride”, the “88ers” from Chemnitz had simply been a “youth movement” trying to show “a common bond of those coming from a city”. Again, he had to walk back such claims when confronted with evidence to the contrary: one main reason why he had not become “B&H” member was that he was under police surveillance. He was also able to state certain details concerning the production of “B&H” magazine “White Supremacy”, showing that he had a good overview of “B&H” activities even though he claimed not to be able to remember any names. Upon repeated questioning, he did not even exclude that he might have been present at a meeting where “B&H” Saxony had decided to split from “B&H” Germany.

All in all, it is likely that this witness too is facing a criminal investigation for perjury. He even denied having known accused André Eminger – and this despite witness testimony of his ex-wife relating concrete business contacts between the two, despite his phone number having been found in the contacts of Eminger’s mobile phone. In any event, Probst’s statement cannot call into question the statement of informer Szczepanski regarding support provided by „B&H“ Saxony and Antje Probst. According to Probst’s own statements, such support could have been provided without his knowing about it. That Szczepanski described Probst as “B&H” member can be based on his important position as music producer, shop owner, band member, husband of Antje Probst and close friend of Jan Werner – all details which placed him close to the organization “B&H” as not even the witness himself tried to deny.

The court also heard as witness a judge of the Federal Court of Justice concerning a “weapons identification” conducted with Carsten Schultze shortly after Schultze had been arrested.

11 December 2014

How the NSU spied out potential targets for murderous attacks.

Today two police detectives testified. The first of them had evaluated a piece of evidence found in the ruins of the NSU’s Frühlingsstraße apartment, a CD containing a number of pictures. These showed a man (very likely Uwe Böhnhardt) with a bike in front of two potential targets for attacks in Stuttgart, a Turkish barbecue restaurant and a greengrocer’s. To a casual observer, it must have seemed as if these were tourist photos, but in reality it became apparent that this was an attempt to document these objects, including routes towards them and flight routes. Both objects fit the picture of previous NSU attacks – small business with Turkish-origin proprietors close to railway stations and/or large through-streets.

The next two photos show the door panel of an office of the Socialdemocratic party in Hof/Bavaria, followed by a photo taken roughly two hours later and showing Böhnhardt and Zschäpe in an apartment. As rightly noted by a victim’s counsel, this is another piece of evidence for Zschäpe’s involvement in the preparation of attacks.

The case file also shows the further investigation by the federal criminal police, starting with an inquiry to colleagues whether there were had been any police investigations against the proprietors – and this after the uncovering of the NSU in the fall of 2011! However, today’s witness was not involved in these investigations and thus could not relate any details.
At the end of the trial day, the court continued the questioning of a police detective from Thuringia who had started to testify on 27 November 2014. He had questioned Beate Zschäpe and Ralf Wohlleben as accused in a 1996 investigation, but did not have any memories of having done so.

10 December 2014

Lies and Trivialization, Part 11, with support by the Zschäpe defense – further questioning of Antje Probst.

Today the court continued the questioning of former “Blood & Honour” member Antje Probst (on her first questioning see the report of 20 November 2014). She continued her reprehensible strategy of trivialization, claimed not to have been involved at all in the political activities of “B&H”, to have loved Nazi band “Skrewdriver” only for its music and lovely ballads, etc. She did not budge from this position even in the face of several questions and upon being confronted with publications, witness testimonies etc. which contradicted her.

In summary, the witness has worked hard to earn the investigation for perjury which is bound to follow, starting from the very beginning of her testimony: without any specific questions by the court, Probst referred to the question of her acquaintance with the Eminger brother (see report of 20 November 2014) – but did not use the opportunity to correct her false statements from last time.

The Zschäpe defense triggered a rather long discussion by objecting to a question by victim’s counsel Alexander Hoffmann: The witness, who together with her husband had played in the band “AEG”, claimed that that band had had nothing to do with “Blood & Honour”. Hoffmann questioned this statement and asked who had produced “AEG”’s music. The defense claimed that this question had nothing to do with case at hand – despite it being a rather obvious question concerning Probst’s believability. Equally obvious is that Probst’s testimony is of some importance for the proceedings, after all other witnesses had related concrete acts of support provided by her to “the Three” as well as attempts by Probst to militarize the scene. But then again, the Zschäpe defense obviously has no interest in countering the strategy of lies and trivialization employed by all Nazi witnesses from Chemnitz, of uncovering further details concerning the support provided to the NSU by the broader Nazi scene. The same apparently applies for the federal prosecution, which again lent its support to the defense, as well as for a few victims’ counsel who did the same today. The court – naturally – overruled the objection, the witness answered the question. The defense continued its attempts to torpedo the questioning by victims’ counsel of this witness, who could after all relate some interesting details concerning the structure NSU/”Blood & Honour”.

Her testimony has once again shown that the strategy of silence and of a continuing bond with the accused is still followed by all witnesses from the scene. It also became apparent that in the years in question, all aspects of the life of this witness were connected with the Nazi scene: in her “private” life she organized Nazi concerts, her job was to sell Nazi CDS, videos, clothes and magazines, as concerns her family she was afraid that her children might have to play with “non-white” children. The witness and the people around her lived in a “nationally liberated zone” and organized their lives according to the crude ideology of “white supremacy”. That people living in such a world also discuss the option of a “racial war” against immigrants is hardly surprising. Her testimony thus strengthens the testimony of informer Szczepanski, who had related that „B&H“ Saxony had decided to support Zschäpe, Mundlos and Böhnhardt, that Probst wanted to provide her passport to Zschäpe and that Jan Werner tried to buy guns for them.

At the end of the trial, victims’ counsel brought a motion for evidence concerning a neo-Nazi who had told the police that he had met Mundlos and Böhnhardt once in Zwickau when visiting his brother and again at a later date shortly before the murder of Halit Yozgat and that he knew further members of their support network.

9 December 2014

Inter alia more on „Blood & Honour“ Saxony.

Today showed how laborious it can be to consider all the evidence in the NSU trial. The court spent all afternoon reading out reports on fingerprint identification. Of course, all this evidence needs to be formally introduced in the trial if it is to be considered in the judgment. And the content of today’s evidence was quite important.

In the morning, the court heard two detectives from the federal criminal police who had questioned Jan Werner, the head of “Blood & Honour” Saxony. During the interview, Werner had not made any statements concerning the investigation itself – but he had made some remarks during a cigarette break. He stated that everyone knew who had provided guns to the Nazi scene in the 1990s, after all it had later come out that that person had been a secret service informer. He himself had been under constant surveillance at that time. Werner also talked about his acquaintance with Andreas Graupner, another “B&H” Saxony member and member of the Nazi band “Noie Werte” – however, he claimed not to have had any recent contact with Graupner.

The next witness was a staff member of the office of the federal criminal prosecutor who had been present at the questioning of the Swiss witnesses by Swiss prosecutors concerning the Ceska murder weapon. She gave a brief report on the general conduct of the interview.
Finally, the court began considering the several pieces of evidence that had been found in the ruins of the house in the Frühlingsstraße in Zwickau. Today it read out several reports on fingerprint identification. Among others, police had found several documents originating with accused André Eminger, on which were found prints from Eminger and members of two of the “Three.” They had also found a collection of newspaper clippings concerning the NSU’s murders, on which were found Zschäpe’s finger prints – one more piece of evidence showing that Zschäpe was not as claimed by her defense a “housewife in the underground”, but rather actively involved in the NSU’s crimes.

2 December 2014

Secret service informers: „people who don’t just report, but people who act and then report on those acts”

The first two witnesses today were two retired police detectives from Switzerland whom the court had summoned upon a motion by the Wohlleben defense. In 1996, the detectives had conducted an investigation against a German national who had made illegal trades with gun bought in Switzerland. The arms dealer from whom Hans-Ulrich Müller had received the murder weapon Ceska played a peripheral role in that investigation. As reported earlier, this is a desperate attempt by the Wohlleben defense to call into question the chain of custody of the Ceska – today, this became even more pointless as the two witnesses had not even dealt directly with the arms dealer in question.

Next up to testify was the ex-husband of Antje Probst, the latter having testified concerning “Blood & Honour” Saxonia and its support to “the Three” two weeks ago (see the report of 20 November 2014).

Probst also tried to present himself as mostly apolitical and his contacts to other cadres, e.g. Jan Werner of “B&H”, as “solely neighborly”, claiming to have always distanced himself from “political wackos.” He said that he had never met Zschäpe, Böhnhardt and Mundlos, that there had been rumors about the Nazis from Thuringia who had gone underground, but that he did not recall who had spread those rumors as he had not been interested anyway. In his police interview, he had recalled a number of additional details – today he tried to explain that due to the enormous pressure on them, the police officers had questioned him in a “highly leading” manner.

Buried within these fairy tales, however, were a number of impression of the scene which are probably closer to the truth than most of what other witnesses from the scene have reported so far: Thus the witness described those secret service informers whose identities are known to him as “active cadres”, as „people who don’t just report, but people who act and then report on those acts” – such as Thomas Starke, about whom he said that “if he was not present, nothing much happened” – something that can probably be said about the early support granted to von Zschäpe, Böhnhardt and Mundlos as well. Another impression that the witness likely shares with others watching the proceedings is that of the public appearances of the “Thuringia Homeguard” as martial, menacing and frightening.

Probst refused to testify on the role of his ex-wife, stating that he had been advised to do so as his testimony could incriminate her – “maybe she had something to do with these things.” The court interrupted his testimony; Probst will have to appear again in two weeks accompanied by a witness counsel.