28 January 2015

Keupstraße: who was in danger?
And: how serious can one take Schultze’s “distancing” himself from the Nazi scene?

The first witnesses today were three members of a family who testified on how they witnessed the Keupstraße bomb. The mother had been less than 30 meters from the bomb and had been lucky to mostly suffer a severe fright as well as injuries to her ear drums. She reported that loud noises such as fireworks still led to her recalling her experiences of the explosion and that is still only able to sleep soundly maybe two nights per week.

The testimony of her son led to irritation and to some indignation particularly among reporters present when he reported he first stated that at the moment of the explosion, he had been in his car in the Schanzenstraße, a cross street to the Keupstraße. Presiding judge Götzl told him in a quite severe tone that his counsel had told the court in his motion for permission to join the case that he had been in the area of explosion of the bomb. This confusion was cleared up during the testimony of his sister: her brother had in fact been in his car at the intersection of the Schanzenstraße and the Keupstraße, about 25 meters from the bomb and thus in an area where severe injuries might well have occurred.

The Wohlleben defense asked for a short interruption in order to discuss whether to bring a motion. Apparently they had hoped to use the inconsistencies in order to attack the legitimacy of victims’ counsel. In the end, they did not bring a motion, likely because they did not see any angle. Wohlleben is not charged in connection with the Keupstraße attack – there is evidence that he had bought and sold electronics very similar to those used in the bomb, but this is not enough to charge him with concrete acts of aiding and abetting.

The final witness today was a former co-worker of accused Schultze with an AIDS support group in Düsseldorf. Schultze had told him in November of 2011 that he had provided Zschäpe, Mundlos and Böhnhardt with a gun. The witness did not remember any relevant details with regard to the gun. What was interesting, however, was what had told him about his Nazi activities: He had stated that he had been active in the “Thuringia Home Guard” and had been proud that “his youth group” was the only one whose members had not fought with each other, making his activities in the Nazi scene appear almost like “social work”.

The witness stated that in November of 2011, after the death of Böhnhardt and Mundlos and the uncovering of the NSU, Schultze had been very nervous. He had then told him about the gun. Asked what he had thought back then what would happen with that gun, he had answered “nothing at all.” The witness did not believe him, but also stated that such an answer was quite typical for Schultze.

Apparently, Schultze’s coming out and his entry into the gay scene in Düsseldorf happened without any actual break or concrete distancing from his Nazi past. If Schultze had given up his knowledge early on – after all, antifascist groups had uncovered his Nazi past in Jena –, this might not only have led to an early uncovering of the NSU, but also to a considerable sentence reduction for Schultze – something which is hard to imagine today. This was far from a commendable “exit” and distancing from the Nazi scene.