Monthly Archives: February 2015

26 February 2015

A new lying Nazi witness every day.

The first witness today was a friend of Carsten Schultze’s from the early days in the Jena Nazi scene, who had also left the scene together with him. It was quite apparent that she tried to exonerate Schultze, who is still a good friend of hers. Above all, she attempted to present him as someone who did not have play an independent role in the scene, but who was only “sent” by others – mostly André Kapke and Ralf Wohlleben – and cared for the scene’s youth. Like Schultze himself, the witness tried to give the impression that Schultze and herself had not had their own political opinions, but had only gotten involved with the scene due to personal problems.

It was obvious that her statement was as extremely subjective as Schultze’s self-presentation: It is certainly true, as she said, that Wohlleben and Kapke played the leading roles in Jena’s Nazi Scene. But to deduce from this fact that the others had simply been blind followers may be true for the witness herself, who had joined the scene at 12 or 13 years old. But it is transparent nonsense when it comes to Carsten Schultze, who had a leading role in the JN, the NPD youth organization, and whom Wohlleben chose not without reason as his “right hand” in supporting “the Three”.

The witness seemed quite touched when she reported on her first meeting with Schultze – which consisted of their chancing upon a homeless man on their way to the youth club and “stealing his beer”.

The Wohlleben defense tried to present the witness as unreliable, but achieved the opposite: In answering their questions, she related how Wohlleben had forced her to confront the entire group when she did not want to participate in weekend seminars anymore. He had also harassed a boy who had eaten a kebap by forcing him to do pushups in front of the group and threatening to whip him if ever did that again. André Kapke too had always harassed younger “comrades”, only Schultze had once dared tell Kapke to leave her alone – which once again shows that Schultze was not as low in the hierarchy as the witness tried to depict him.
The witness said that she had seen Zschäpe only once, Böhnhardt and Mundlos never. But those three had been depicted like martyrs by the scene, which had heaped praise on them for “standing up”.

After the NSU had uncovered itself, Schultze had told her that he had brought “them” a gun. Now he was afraid that this gun had been used for the murders. He had not related details and she had not asked.

The next witness was Armin Fiedler from Chemnitz, brother of yesterday’s witness Gunter Fiedler. His questioning was one of those typical questionings of (former?) members of the Nazi scene, who hinder an elucidation of the facts by “not remembering anything” and thus seem to show themselves still sharing a bond with the accused. Armin Fiedler too only admitted those facts which have already been proven: Thomas Starke had asked him and his brother to find a “refuge” for three people who had “screwed up”. They had asked Mandy Struck, who helped them by providing her boyfriend’s apartment to Zschäpe, Böhnhardt und Mundlos. From early 1998 to the fall of 1998, they had visited two or three times. His brother had provided his ID card and other documents so that Uwe Böhnhardt could apply for and receive a passport in his name. However, he too claimed, his brother had asked for the passport back when it became clear that the fugitives were not in fact planning to go abroad. Apart from these details, the witness claimed not to remember anything.

What remains is the fact that the attempt by the Wohlleben defense to exculpate their client by pointing to the involvement of “Blood & Honour” Saxony in building up the NSU failed again. There is a lot of evidence that “B&H” Saxony did in fact decide in the summer of 1998 to support the three, leading to a network of groups for armed activities – but the evidence so far presented has clearly shown not only that Wohlleben was responsible for procuring the Ceska pistol, but also that he had been a central figure in supporting Zschäpe, Böhnhardt and Mundlos in going and staying underground.

Finally, victims’ counsel for the Yozgat family presented their motions concerning the murder in of Halit Yozgat and the role of secret service officer Andreas Temme. Inter alia, they moved that the court hear several further officers of the service, listen to phone calls between them on line which were tapped by the police, and summon Hessian Prime Minister Volker Bouffier as a witness. Their central claims are that Temme had known of the murder beforehand and had therefore been present in the internet café, that he and his colleagues had lied in their testimony in court and that the secret service had colluded to deflect the police investigations (two German language articles on these motions are available [links] here and here). The federal prosecution requested that these motions be denied, giving a long juridical-technocratic statement, the political background of which was quite transparent, under the motto “that which must not, cannot be.” Victims’ counsel replied and stated once more that every possibility, even a remote one, of secret service involvement in the murder in Kassel must obviously be followed up by all means possible. The Zschäpe defense, meanwhile, was mostly indignant that it had not received the motions beforehand so as to be able to comment at once.

25 February 2015

Witnesses from Chemnitz: Some details, a lot of fables – and still no exculpatory evidence for Wohlleben

Today the court heard two witnesses from Chemnitz. Both were summoned based on a motion by the Wohlleben defense which aims at shifting the responsibility for the support given to the NSU away from Wohlleben and laying it solely at the feet of “Blood & Honour” Saxony.
As was the case with earlier witnesses, this plan did not come to fruition today. At the same time, both witnesses also tried very hard not to give any other relevant details – like many witnesses from the Nazi scene before them, they confirmed what was already proven and otherwise either told stories or claimed not to remember anything.

The first witness was Gunter Fiedler, one of the “88” Skinheads from Chemnitz. He confirmed that, after Zschäpe, Böhnhardt and Mundlos had gone underground, he and his brother had provided an apartment for them. Thomas Starke had asked them and told them that the Three were hiding from the police. The Fiedler brothers asked Mandy Struck, who referred them to her boyfriend Max-Florian B., who in fact took them in.

The witness also confirmed – contrary to his interview with the police – that he had lent Böhnhardt his ID card so that Böhnhardt could apply for (and in fact receive) a passport in Fiedler’s name. However, he claimed to have taken this passport back after a while and to have destroyed it – a rather unbelievable claim. He also claimed not to have had further contact with the Three and not to know anything much about them.

His statement was unbelievable already taken on its own, even more so given several contradictions to his police interview. What’s more, he was unable to state any kind of motive for his support. Finally, the witness was unable to explain a note found in the NSU apartment containing biographical details of the entire Fiedler family, which shows that Böhnhardt was still using Fiedler’s identity.

It was apparent that the witness, an active member of the Nazi scene in Chemnitz, was willing without any further ado to provide an apartment and personal documents to “comrades” on the run from the police. Apparently the scene had no problem with participating in criminal activities.

The second witness, Jörg Winter, was a member of “Blood & Honour” Saxony and had, already in the mid-1990s, provided Zschäpe, Böhnhardt and Mundlos, at the time were still active in Jena, with 2 kg of TNT. This transaction too was brokered by Thomas Starke. The witness confirmed having delivered the explosives, but told a tall tale of having been given the TNT for safe-keeping by an acquaintance who died shortly thereafter. Later, Starke asked him, apparently out of the blue, and “as luck would have it”, he was able to give those explosives to him. Of course, he had not had any clue that these explosives were meant for somebody else, he thought Starke simply wanted to “experiment” a bit.

Besides this unbelievable story, the witness provided some interesting tidbits concerning the structure of “B&H” Saxony and their closeness to the Hammerskins in Saxony. He also confirmed that André Eminger was close to the “B&H” scene, in fact wanted to become a member. When “B&H” was banned and dissolved, he instead formed the “White Brotherhood Iron Mountains”, whose ideology was closely related to that of the Hammerskins. Winter’s statement is therefore another clue that Eminger is the link who ensured the further support to the NSU after “B&H” was banned and the earlier supporters were unable to continue their support.

24 February 2015

On everyday life in Zwickau

The court only sat for a half day today due to ill health of accused Beate Zschäpe. Accordingly, only one witnessed testified, a former neighbor of the NSU in the Polenzstraße in Zwickau who recalled her contact with Beate Zschäpe, known to her as “Lise” or “Lisa”. She only had contact with Zschäpe, one of the men was supposed to be her boyfriend, but he was often absent “for work.” Several times, the witness saw mobile homes in front of the house, “Lisa” said that they were going on vacation.

Zschäpe also came for visits after she had moved to the Frühlingsstraße apartment. The witness found her a genial conversational partner – one who had, however, mostly listened and not told much about herself. During one of the last visits, Zschäpe had argued with a neighbor about money and had become very aggressive: “I thought she is just about to her”. During her final visit, about two weeks before the explosion in the Frühlingsstraße, she had appeared very stressed and had drunk a lot more than usual, but had claimed that everything was alright.
It seems that this witness did not witness the “German normalcy” between Zschäpe and other neighbors (see the reports of 3 February 2014 and 9 to 11 November 2013). She stated that Zschäpe had never made political statements – “otherwise I would not have continued talking to her.”

The Zschäpe defense asked the witness a number of questions, but without a discernible strategy and without any concrete results.

12 to 23 February 2015 – Trial break

Court rejects defense motion to revoke Mrs. S.’ right to join the proceedings

On 12 February 2015, the Munich Court of Appeal has decided, as was to be expected, that the motion by the Zschäpe defense to revoke the right of a private accessory prosecutor to join the proceedings was to be rejected. This means that her counsel Alexander Hoffmann will continue to represent her in the trial proceedings.

This decision was to be expected, the defense motion was a simple diversionary tactic. The defense did try to get rid of a victims’ counsel, but above all it tried to establish that only a few severely injured persons could be accepted as victims and thus to obscure the murderous dimension of the nail bomb attack in the Keupstraße. By claiming that a person who was in close proximity to the bomb and only by accident was not exposed to bomb fragments was not a victim of that bombing attack, the defense tried to push into the background the fact that this attack was directed against all residents of the Keupstraße.

The court simply stated that, when it allowed the private accessory prosecution, it had considered that the victim had been within the blast radius of the bomb and that therefore a conviction of Beate Zschäpe was possible. Whether or not this was proven by the evidence in court was simply without relevance for the decision – the Zschäpe defense had filled several pages with claims that the evidence did not bear out the facts considered by the court in its initial decision.

12 February 2015

The trial day today was canceled due to ill health of accused Beate
Zschäpe. There will be no trial days next week. The trial continues on
Tuesday, 24 February with testimony by two neighbors of the NSU from
Zwickau and from Gordian Meyer-Plath, former contact officer of secret
service informer Carsten Szczepanski and now president of the domestic
secret service in Saxony.

11 February 2015

On the dangerousness of the Keupstraße nail bomb – and on the most brazen Nazi witness yet.

The first witness today was Bernd Tödter, leader of neo-Nazi group “Storm 18” from Kassel and just recently released from pre-trial detention after receiving a 30 month sentence for violent crimes. Tödter appeared in the outfit of a classical 1990s Nazi skinhead, with shaved head and a “Storm 18” shirt under a bomber jacket.

During an earlier incarceration, he had told the police that he could report on a meeting with Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Böhnhardt in 2006, shortly before the murder of Halit Yozgat in Kassel. Today Tödter tried to disavow his earlier statements – and achieved to combine perjury and resufal to testify more brazenly than any witness before him. At first he relied on the privilege against self-incrimination. When presiding judge Götzl told him that the privilege did not apply to him, he answered “In that case, I don’t remember anything.” The presiding judge tried very patiently to ask Tödter about his earlier statements to the police, but he remained stubborn in his refusal. His testimony was interrupted and will be continued tomorrow – it remains to be seen whether he will face fines or detention for refusal to testify or “just” a perjury trial.

In the afternoon, the two expert witnesses reported on the functioning and effects of the Keupstraße nail bomb. Their reports showed again that it was a massive stroke of luck that nobody died: bomb expert Dr. Mölle had calculated that even at distances far beyond 25 meters, the nails had a kinetic energy which would have made fatal injuries very likely in case of hits to the head or torso of persons. As to the splinters of the gas bottle itself, coroner Dr. Peschel calculated that its kinetic energy was somewhere between a bullet from a very large-caliber rifle and that from a machine gun. Even in distances of up to 100 metres, Peschel concluded, serious injuries could have been expected.

Peschel’s report concluded with a listing of the various injuries actually incurred, a frightening list comprising inter alia cornea injuries, broken bones, burn injuries and life-threatening injuries due to inhalation of gastric acid. In addition, there are the many psychological injuries suffered, on which Dr. Peschel, not being a psychiatrist, did not report in detail. However, he stated quite clearly that anxiety disorders as a part of post-traumatic stress disorder were a typical reaction in victims of this type of crime and that in some cases these disorders become chronic. However, he added, a courtroom is not the place to try detailed diagnoses of individual cases. Typically, the Zschäpe defense tried to interrupt and rebuke the expert witness during these statements.

One thing became crystal clear once more: all those Keupstraße residents who have testified as witnesses were present in an area in which there was a serious risk of fatal injuries. Upon being asked by victim’s counsel Alexander Hoffmann about the apartment of Hoffmann’s client, Dr. Mölle stated that the front-facing rooms of that apartment were also within that zone. This shows once more what Hoffmann had already stated yesterday: the motion by the Zschäpe defense to exclude his client from the trial is without any legal merit, it seems to be a mere propaganda device. The large number of private accessory prosecutors simply results from the extreme danger emanating from the bomb, which was designed to kill and maim as many Keupstraße residents as possible.

10 February 2015

On the motion by the Zschäpe defense and on another witness with memory problems.

The first witness today was another victims of the nail bomb in the Keupstraße in Cologne. He was a customer of the hairdresser’s when the bomb exploded in front of the shop. He was extremely lucky to escape without injuries, but his girl friend who had accompanied him suffered several cuts, burns and damage to the ear drum as well as severe psychological injuries: “In the days after the attack, the telephone ringing would really startle her.” She will testify at a later date.

Parties then commented on the defense motion made last week to revoke the right of counsel Alexander Hoffmann’s client to join proceedings as a private accessory prosecutor. The federal prosecution was of the opinion that she is not victim of an attempted murder, but of attempted battery and as such entitled to join the proceedings. Hoffmann also made another statement showing once more that the defense motion was obviously without merit and that one could not help but feel that it was simply an attempt at propaganda against victims and their counsel. The concluding paragraphs of his statement were as follows:

„The attempt to call into question the right of a victim to join proceedings at this point, before the expert witness report on the explosive effect of the bomb, aims to exclude all but a few severely injured persons from being considered as “real” victims and thus to obscure the murderous dimension of the attack. The idea behind it: if one can claim that a person who was in the immediate vicinity at the time of the blast and who by chance was not injured is not a victim of the bomb, the fact that this attack was directed against all Keupstraße residents is eclipsed.
The nail bomb attack in the Keupstraße aimed at terror in its most immediate form. This fact several incriminates the accused Zschäpe. The motion by her defense can only be aimed at diverting attention from this fact. It must be rejected.”

Victim’s counsel Gül Pinar subscribed to this statement and added remarks on the fact that this was a clear example of a hate crime, of an attack against migrants based on their being migrants. The Wohlleben and Zschäpe defense interrupted since they obviously did not want to have this fact discussed in court. Other victims’ counsel also joined in Hoffmann’s statements.
In the afternoon, the court continued to question the Nazi witness who had already testified on 3 February 2015. As during his earlier questioning, the witness claimed not to remember much, but was also cautious not to clearly deny things which might be proven in other ways, instead constantly repeating “I can’t exclude that that happened”, “that’s possible” or “it may have been that way”. What became clear once more is that contacts between Böhnhardt, Mundlos, Zschäpe and their “comrades” from Jena on the one hand and neo-Nazis in Chemnitz on the other dated back to the early 1990s. Importantly, the Wohlleben defense again failed to prove the claims contained in its motion to hear the witness, namely that the scene in Chemnitz did not know Wohlleben, that “the Three” had become radicalized only in Chemnitz and without influence by the rest of the scene. Quite to the contrary, the witness confirmed that he had identified Wohlleben as “Wolle from Thuringia” in an earlier police interview.

5 February 2015

Still no exculpatory evidence for Wohlleben.
And: the Zschäpe defense tries to get rid of a victim’s counsel

The trial day began with the report of a member of the Jugendgerichtshilfe, a division of the agency responsible for children and youths tasked with reporting to the court on the development of young offenders, in Düsseldorf. He reported on his conversations with accused Schultze. He could not tell the court and the parties much news since Schultze himself had made quite extensive statements in court. In one of the following trial weeks, an expert witness will present his report on whether Schultze, who was a young adult (between 18 and 20) at the time, should be treated as an adult or as a youthful offender.

Next was the questioning of Andreas Graupner, one of the more important members of “Blood & Honour” Saxony. The Wohlleben defense had requested that he be questioned, stating that he would testify inter alia that Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Böhnhardt were present at a “B&H” meeting in the town of Wilsdruff on 8 October 1998 during which “B&H” Saxony decided to provide assistance to the NSU.

Graupner, who has been living in the state of Baden-Württemberg since 2001, is well-known all over Germany as a member of the band “Noie Werte” (“New Values”), which is closely connected to “B&H”. Two earlier versions of the NSU video found on a computer in the NSU’s Frühlingsstraße apartment were scored with “Noie Werte” songs. Another band member, by the way, is an attorney and formerly member of the same law office as Wohlleben defense attorney Schneiders.

However, Graupner did not even try to exonerate Wohlleben, but rather behaved like many Nazi witnesses before: brash, feigning memory gaps, lying. Having twice been clearly caught perjuring himself, he nonetheless continued in the same vein. Presiding judge Götzl rather quickly gave up his attempts to question Graupner. The Wohlleben defense was just as unsuccessful. Victims’ counsel Edith Lunnebach was the only one who was able to get to the witness somewhat when she caught him lying and openly discussed his Nazi worldview. The Wohlleben defense strategy of trying to push the responsibility of “radicalizing the Three” to “B&H” Saxony once again proved unsuccessful.

At the end of the trial day, the Zschäpe defense, as announced last week, presented its motion to rescind the right of Alexander Hoffmann, one of the two authors of this blog, and of his client to take part in the proceedings as part of the private accessory prosecution. This motion is without any legal merit.

The right of a victim to take part in proceedings can be rescinded when it turns out that the victim was, from the outset, not entitled to take part, e.g. because the victim did not press charges and a prosecution is thus barred. The Zschäpe defense, on the other hand, claims that the evidence of the last weeks showed that Hoffmann’s client was not a victim of assault and attempted murder in the context of the bomb which exploded roughly 22 meters from her apartment.

However, this claim cannot lead to the rescission of her right to take part already for the simple reasons that the factual question of the extent to which she was endangered by the bomb, of how her concrete injuries relate to the bomb etc. is a question to be answered in the final judgment. And the legal question concerning her admission has already been answered in the court’s decision allowing the indictment to proceed to trial, in which it has characterized the bombing attack as attempted murder also of several persons who were not bodily injured, but who were present in the Keupstraße.
Victims’ counsel Edith Lunnebach made a statement on the defence motion in which she criticized that the defense would do well to focus on trying to find exculpatory material for their client instead of attacking victims’ counsel.

4 February 2015

Measuring the Keupstraße

The witness due to testify in the evening, a childhood friend of Uwe Mundlos‘, did not appear. The trial day consisted mostly of the testimony of a police detective who was asked to state the distance of the nail bomb to several housed in the Keupstraße. The witness had both a diagram from the land register and an image developed with the aid of a specialized computer program from several aerial photographs. However, the latter image apparently caused some problems as the expert needed several interruptions before he was able to give the distance between the bicycle with the nail bomb and several neighboring houses.

As to the defense motions announced last week, the defense did not follow through on its announcements.

3 February 2015

Witnesses for the Wohlleben defense – no exculpatory statements in sight.

Today the court heard the first two of the witnesses connected to “Blood & Honour” Saxony whose testimony has been requested by the Wohlleben defense in its 13 January 2015 motions. The defense aims to prove that it was only under the influence of “B&H” Saxony that Zschäpe, Böhnhardt and Mundlos were radicalized into starting the NSU and that Wohlleben had no contacts to “B&H” Saxony and thus did not play a central role among NSU supporters.
Of course, even if all that were to be proven true, the evidence already heard so far suffices to convict Wohlleben of the charges against him because he did in fact provide the NSU with the murder weapon. But even leaving that all aside, the two witnesses heard today did not actually confirm these defense claims, quite to the contrary:

The first witness is the owner of a facebook profile which amply demonstrates his political leanings, containing the slogan “Saufen macht frei” or “drinking makes one free”, a “wordplay” on the “Arbeit macht frei” or “work makes one free” placed at the entry gate of the Auschwitz concentration camp. The witness stated that he had first met Zschäpe in the 1990s and that he had met her several times in Chemnitz. This was pretty much the extent of the factual statements to be heard from him as, like other Nazis witnesses before him, he feigned extensive memory gaps. He will have to appear once more as the minutes of two police interviews with him have not yet been provided for the case file.

The second witness, who had already left the Nazi scene in 1994, stated that after the withdrawal of the Red Army from Eastern Germany, it was quite easy to buy guns; he himself had taken part in target practice sessions. He had also been involved, together with several “B&H” members, in an attempted attack by about 250 persons on a refugee home, an attack during which Molotov cocktails were thrown. What the witness did not relate, however, was anything which could support the factual claims by the Wohlleben defense.