26 October 2016

On likely attempts by the NSU to scout out a synagogue in Berlin, news on the attack in Jena-Winzerla, and on the Peggy K. case

The only witness today was a former police officer from Berlin who had been a guard posted in front of the synagogue in the Rykestraße in Berlin in 2000. He had stated in 2000 that he had observed Beate Zschäpe together with 2 men and another woman accompanied by two young children. They had sat in front of a restaurant directly next to the entrance to the synagogue, where they had consulted maps and made notes. Shortly thereafter, he had seen a wanted notice on TV and recognized the woman as Zschäpe and notified the police in Thuringia.
Before the witness had been summoned, presiding judge Götzl had asked Beate Zschäpe whether she had been in Berlin in May 2000. This question, by the way, had already been asked by victims’ counsel, but had at that time not been answered by the accused. Today, her counsel Grasel read out a statement confirming that Zschäpe had been in Berlin, but had not “scouted out” the synagogue, which in any event she did not know.

The witness confirmed his statement made in 2000, but showed some memory gaps concerning concrete details, which are easily explained by the passage of time. It is likely that the court will have to also hear the testimony of the police officers who had questioned the witness in 2000. Another angle to clear up this aspect was again provided by victims’ counsel – Antonia von der Behrens and Yavuz Narin highlighted that on the same day, a phone tapping by the Saxon domestic secret service had placed Jan Werner, an activist of “Blood and Honour” and well-known in the NSU complex, in the area around the synagogue and that a few weeks later, Werner had been observed in Berlin together with a young woman who matched the description of the other woman in the restaurant and who was accompanied by two young children. This woman can be identified by the secret service and will likely be able to further clear up the activities and plans of Zschäpe and her companions.

Other news concern the event in which several neo-Nazis attacked two men at the tram stop in Jena-Winzerla. This attack, which had been reported on by Carsten Schultze (see, e.g., the report of 21 July 2016), has been the subject of several witness testimonies since then, which the Wohlleben defense had moved for in order to present Schultze as unreliable. Above all, they attacked his statement that one of the victims had been pushed into a small wooden hut – such a hut was not found at the tram stop. The police has now finally found the victim of the attack – again after having been massively helped along by a victim’s counsel (see the report of 12 October 2016). He has meanwhile been questioned by the police and has confirmed everything Schultze said. Inter alia, he confirmed the presence of a small wooden hut, not at the tram stop, but in a nearby allotment into which he had tried to flee.

It is to be expected that the witness will testify in court soon. Thus this attempt by the Wohlleben defense has also turned into a boomerang, the defense has helped to confirm the reliability of Schultze’s statements incriminating Wohlleben.

As was to be expected, one aspect that was also discussed was the murder of Peggy K.. Two weeks ago, had become public that Uwe Böhnhardt’s DNA had been found on a piece of cloth found near the place where the dead body of Peggy K. had been found. First of all, the presiding judge asked the accused Zschäpe whether she had any knowledge about that case. He also asked several questions concerning a computer found in the NSU apartment in the Frühlingsstraße on which had been found several pictures depicting child pornography. Defense counsel Borchert announced that these questions will again be answered in writing.
Two victims’ counsel moved that the case file of the murder investigation be made part of the Munich case file. Their motion culminated in the statement that the NSU had financed its crimes by producing and selling child pornography.

We urge extreme caution in considering the murder of Peggy K in the context of the NSU: It is true that the NSU’s network included persons such as secret service informer Tino Brandt, who has been convicted of organized sexual child abuse. There are also reports that Peggy K.’s mother, who had converted to Islam, had received threatening letters from apparent neo-Nazis. And it is also true that the investigation of the Peggy K. murder case had been led by the same detective who had also directed the investigations of the NSU murders against their victims and thus confirmed that institutional racism was a serious problem.

It thus seems possible that there is a connection between Böhnhardt – and thus Zschäpe – and the murder of Peggy K. However, it seems equally possible that there is another explanation, e.g. a contamination of the DNA material. After all, authorities had also long claimed that a contamination was impossible in the context of the “Heilbronn phantom” – an unknown woman who, based on DNA material, had been suspected of having committed inter alia the murder of a policewoman and attempted murder of her colleague in Heilbronn, a crime now found to have been committed by the NSU, but who had then turned out to have been a worker in the plant where the cotton swabs used to collect DNA material had been packaged.
Accordingly, as far as the Peggy K. case is concerned, one can say the same as with almost all other aspects of the NSU complex: further investigation is certainly needed. However, it is extremely unhelpful to jump to conclusions and present classic yellow press fodder by claiming that the NSU had financed itself by selling child pornography. Caution is all the more necessary since this could lead to a massive depoliticization of the NSU by turning Nazi murderers committing racist hate crimes into crazy perverts whose motivations are accordingly hard to describe. The trial so far has shown that the NSU’s murders were the realization of strategies propagated in the Nazi scene in the 1990s and 2000s, that institutionalized racism in the police led to investigations being directed against the victims of these crimes – it is to be feared that all these important issues may be buried under sensationalist press reports concerning crazy sex gangsters and incompetent police detectives. Therefore, one should use caution to avoid helping the authorities unwilling to clear up the issues, and those who vehemently deny the existence of organized armed Nazi groups and plans for armed combat in the scene, by giving them further arguments to question the NSU’s political motivation.

Wohlleben defense counsel Klemke meanwhile once again showed his true colors in reacting to the motion: he claimed – wrongly – that victims’ counsel Dr. Daimagüler had mispronounced the surname of Peggy K., adding “but of course this is only a German victim, nobody cares about those.” This statement, obviously aimed at applause from Wohllebens ideological cronies outside the court room, is dumb in so many ways that one hardly knows where to begin – with the stupid new-right trope of alleged “anti-German racisim” that Klemke tried to reference? With the fact that Daimagüler had in fact pronounced Peggy K.’s name correctly and that Klemke had simply hallucinated the alleged mistake? With the fact that by contrast, the names of the NSU murder victims with Turkish roots have often been grossly garbled in the courtroom? Or with the fact that Klemke apparently considers “non-German” even those NSU victims who had spent their entire lives in Germany and held German nationality? In any event, Klemke showed once more that the focus of his defense activities is moving ever further towards the presentation of right-wing ideology in the courtroom.