15 September 2015

Destroying evidence was yesterday – magical multiplication of the Thuringia secret service case files

The only witness today was Jürgen Zweigert, a former domestic secret service officer from Brandenburg, who was contact officer of informer Marcel Degner a.k.a. “Hail” from 1997 to 2000. Degner, who, until being uncovered in 2000, had been been head of “Blood and Honour” Thuringia and responsible for the finances of B&H Germany, had vehemently denied having worked for the secret service or having received money from them (see the reports of 11 March 2015 and 20 May 2015).

Zweigert today not only confirmed the identity of Marcel Degner as “Hail”, but also stated that Degner had generally provided worthwhile and truthful information and had received several hundred Marks in payment at the weekly meetings. Degner thus should be considered as on the same level as informer Brandt, working at a high level in a Nazi organization (according to the witness today, Degner had done “good work in building up” the structure of B&H) and being paid quite a large amount of money.

A further contact officer of Degner’s, Wießner, had testified on 22 April 2015 that the file on Degner in the secret service contained only three pages with very little information and that everything else had been destroyed. However, it had become clear based on a parliamentary enquiry that at least 69 reports on meetings with Degner were on file with the federal secret service, and the court had, based on a motion by victims’ counsel, asked Zweigert to read those to prepare for his testimony. Zweigert now even stated that he had seen almost 100 reports and that in addition, there were twelve to fourteen reports written by his colleague Wießner and ten by a further colleague Neisen. This peculiar growth of the case file from 69 to more than 100 reports needs further elucidation.

Zweigert’s testimony was also interesting in other regards: he stated that his colleague Wießner was solely responsible for all questions concerning the three who had gone underground and generally concerning Jena. According to him, Mundlos, Böhnhardt and Zschäpe had been considered “low level members” of Nazi organizations and there had been no special interest in catching them. At the same time, he also reported that a Thuringian police officer charged with catching the fugitives, Wunderlich, had often been in contact with Wießner, likely to talk about Zschäpe, Mundlos and Böhnhardt. Of course, the question is why there was a need for a concrete deliberation of responsibilities and for many meetings between the service and the police if the three were considered to be low level and unimportant.

Zweigert stated that he had only asked his informers for information concerning Böhnhardt, Zschäpe and Mundlos once, based on a request by his superiors. Degner had denied knowing them, he had not put anything in his report. Interestingly, when asked by the parliamentary inquiry commission in Thuringia, Zweigert had denied having received such a request by his superiors – according to his testimony at that point, he had not asked Degner about the three who had gone underground. Asked about this contradiction today, he replied that his testimony before the parliamentary inquiry had come about so quickly and that he probably remembered things better today – an explanation that is rather hard to believe.

Zweigert proved unable to anwer many questions, including questions concerning a possible collaboration between his informer and accused Wohlleben or other “Thuringia Home Guard” members from Jena, but stated that this information should be contained in the reports he had been allowed to read in preparation for his testimony. Accordingly, victims’ counsel requested that these reports be integrated into the case file before his testimony ends.