13 December 2017

Further closing statements on the Keupstraße and on the murder in Heilbronn

Today the court heard further closing statements by victims’ counsel on the murder of Michèle Kiesewetter and the attempted murder of her colleague Martin A. in Heilbronn.

Prior to those statement, Alexander Hoffmann concluded his statement begun last week on the ideology of the NSU and its network of supporters.

Hoffman showed that the many different political organizations, from the Jena division of the “Thuringia Homeguard”, whose members wore SA-like uniforms, to the prissy-seaming Nazi Party NPD, whose members were often called “side partings” based on their haircuts, and to Blood and Honours, whose members wore tattoes and considered themselves part of a subculture, were all united by a common ideology:

“An ideology based on an imagined white Race or German Volk, which is characterized either by blood, genes or skin color and which is claimed to be in a permanent state of self-defense against an imagined danger of the ‘death of the Volk’, a never-ending ‘Racial Holy War’ in which the defense of one’s own collective necessitates getting rid of or killing the alleged danger.” 

Among the Blood and Honour publications found in the group’s garage in Jena were papers detailing the strategy of “leaderless resistance”, a strategy developed in the US and calling for armed actions by independent cells with the twin aims of destabilizing the state and provoking conflicts between “Whites” and African Americans. These conflicts were then to be escalated to the point where they ended in the civil war the Nazi groups and Militias were preparing for – the “Racial Holy War”.

These booklets show that the strategy discussions of the Jena group described by accused Gerlach concerned “armed struggle” and “leaderless resistance”. The members of Blood and Honour Saxony, which according to witness Antje Probst had discussed “actions” with Mundlos, Zschäpe and Böhnhardt, must also have known this strategy – not only the publications, but also the music spread by Blood and Honour contained explicit calls to join the “armed struggle”, contained glorifications of the “Racial Holy War” and the fight for the future of “White children”.  The activities of the NSU, commission of murders without claiming responsibility for them, follow the strategy of “leaderless resistance” almost to a t. The zine of accused Eminger, “Aryan Law and Order”, portrays the same ideology in an almost religiously admiring fashion.

Hoffmann next turned to the Nazi party NPD and accused Wohlleben, who had claimed to have always distanced himself from violent acts.

“The ‘death of the Volk’ campaign which has been discussed here multiple times, which accused Wohlleben and his defense have presented once more in his statement, is based on the basic idea of an ethnically-based Volk, of völkisch racism and of the paranoid idea of a world-wide conspiracy of capital and/or Jewry aiming at the destruction of the German, the White race.”

“Like the others, the accused Wohlleben had internalized the ideology of the Thuringia Home Guard, the ideology of Blood and Honour, as expressed in the slogan ’14 words’. An ideology of völkisch racism whose protagonists see themselves in a state of permanent self-defense against the imagined death of the Volk, a permanent ‘Racial Holy War’ in which the defense of one’s own collective necessitates getting rid of or killing the alleged danger. Even if it cannot be proven that Wohlleben has ever dirties his own hands, that he was personally involved in individual murders or attacks, he has done everything he can on an ideological level so that his comrades could commit their acts under the label of the NSU with a clean conscience. And his comrades in turn could be sure of his ideological consent to their crimes.”

We would like to refer readers to the summary of the statement (in German).

The next statement was held by counsel Sabine Singer. She represents Hasan Y., who worked in his brother’s barber shop in the Keupstraße in Cologne and who was injured in the explosion of the nail bomb. Even though he was comparatively “lucky” to have been in the back of the shop when the bomb exploded, he is suffering from psychological and physical injuries until this day.

Mr. Y. had seen of the perpetrators, had described him to the police as a light-skinned type with blond sideburns. The police did not believe him, asked whether it could not have been a dark-skinned man instead. The investigative methods of the police, which have been detailed many times, also affected the Y. family, whose members were set against each other by the police by planting suspicions against each other in their minds.

But counsel Singer also stated that the Y. family, with the moral and material support of others in the Keupstraße, had managed to reopen the barber shop. They had had high hopes for the criminal trial. In the end, the family members were happy that accused Zschäpe will be convicted for the bombing attack and that it it clear once and for all that the brothers Y. were victims, not suspects.

Singer was followed by counsel Walter Martinek. He represents police officer Martin A., who was severely wounded during the attempted murder in Heilbronn. It was only due to luck bordering on a miracle that his client had not only survived the attack, but was even able to lead a mostly normal life. Nonetheless, he still suffered from psychological and physical injuries, not least the loss of the basic trust inherent in every human being.

Martinek too had no doubts that Böhnhardt and Mundlos had fired the shots which killed Michèle Kiesewetter and severely injured Martin A. – after all, their mobile home had been seen close to the murder scene and the murder weapons as well as the victims’ police weapons had been found with the NSU, as had a pair of pants worn by Uwe Mundlos drenched in Martin A.’s blood. Martinek also had no doubts that Beate Zschäpe was responsible for these murders as a co-perpetrator.

But he could not understand why the statements of several witnesses who had seen several other suspicious persons near the crime scene were being totally ignored. These statements and their treatment raised questions, “not only for conspiracy theorists”, and it seemed that the basic idea was that “where there are no investigations now, there will be no need to destroy case files later”.

This was also true with respect to the motive for the murders: if the attack had been based on hatred against the state, why had the perpetrators used a different gun than for the Ceska series, thus hiding the connection between the murders and failing to provoke the state as intended? Neither was he convinced that the motive had been to gain access to police weapons – not least because the Theresienwiese, a wide open park, would have been a very badly chosen location for such a crime. One possibility he presented was that the perpetrators had been at the Theresienwiese for other reasons, preparing for some other crime, had been disturbed by the police officers and had decided to kill them.

The next statement was presented by counsel Gärtner, who represents the mother of Michèle Kiesewetter. Among other issues, he dealt in detail with Beate Zschäpe’s statements and showed why these are unbelievable. He referred to the pictures of holidays the three spend together: “One does not go hand in hand, without any care in the world, with a racist and unpredictable killer like Uwe Böhnhardt, if one does not want exactly that.”

He, too, raised doubts concerning the motives for the killing proposed by the federal prosecution, but added that all statements on this issue would remain speculative as long as Zschäpe remained silent on the issue. However, it was clear that Michèle Kiesewetter and Michael A. had been random victims, that there had been no personal motive based on any sort of connection formed in Thuringia, which was also Kiesewetter’s home state.

He then turned to Michèle Kiesewetter’s life: „She would be 33 years old today. She would certainly have made her way in her career, would have started a family. All that has been denied her. Instead, what remains is a desolate family. Ms. Zschäpe, maybe you should think about that fact some time.”

He opposed “remote diagnostics” according to which people from the former GDR were particularly susceptible to nationalist ideas – “Radical right-wing ideology is not an East German problem, but one facing all of Germany”. The trial had shown that the right-wing scenes from the East and the West had quickly merged and developed as a whole. Accordingly, not Zschäpe, Böhnhardt and Mundlos represented the image of Thuringia, but Michèle Kiesewetter. We fully agree with that statement, maybe minus the local patriotism presented by counsel Gärtner, who also hails from Thuringia.

Gärtner also opposed attempts to make racist investigations or a “general suspicion of racism” against the police or a “general reckoning with the state” one of the topics of the proceedings. He referred to articles printed in early 2011 in the weekly “Der Spiegel” – hardly suspected of harboring right-wing tendencies – concerning the “kebap killings”. Again, we too find it important to consider such articles in the Spiegel – not in order to show that the police should not be blamed for their investigations, but because the Spiegel and the rest of the German mainstream press also need to be blamed for their reports prior to 2011.

The final closing statement of the day was held by Reinhard Schön. Together with Eberhard Reinecke, he represents several victims of the Keupstraße bombing attack. He once again painted a very vivid picture of the consequences for the victims of both the attack itself and the racist investigations which turned them into suspects. Others had already dealt with covert investigative measures such as undercover detectives, Reinhard Schön now reported on measures conducted openly, which were felt by the victims as deep injuries, such as body searches and being forced to give blood and DNA samples.

Schön, too, tore apart Zschäpe’s statements, referring inter alia to the fact that Beate Zschäpe had already lied to a court in the 1990s in order to spare Uwe Uwe Böhnhardt from being convicted for hanging a puppet adorned with the star of David from a highway bridge. Why, Schön asked, should the court believe her now that much more was at stake for her than had been for Böhnhardt back then?

The closing statement of the two Keupstraße counsel will be continued tomorrow by Eberhard Reinecke.