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Germany remembers victims of neo-Nazi gang

The Local · 23 Feb 2012, 11:41

Published: 23 Feb 2012 11:41 GMT+01:00

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The memorial took place some three months after the country was shocked by revelations that a far-right group calling itself the National Socialist Underground (NSU) had gone on a racist killing spree from 2000 to 2006. The trio murdered nine immigrant small business owners - eight Turks and one Greek - as well as one policewoman.

Chancellor Angela Merkel gave the main address - following the sudden resignation of President Christian Wulff last week - before 1,200 guests at the Concert House on the central Gendarmenmarkt square.

“The murders of the Thuringian terror cell were an attack on our country,” a sombre-looking Merkel said. “They have brought shame upon our country.”

She was flanked on stage by candles representing the victims: “Ten burning candles, ten lives extinguished – extinguished by cold-blooded murder.”

Semiya Simsek, the daughter of the first victim, expressed the fears and frustrations of the survivors after the crimes of the far-right terror cell were revealed: "My father was murdered by neo-Nazis. Is that supposed to comfort me?"

The 25-year-old was born and raised in Germany, but she had previously admitted she had considered leaving the country because she could not cope with knowing her father was killed simply because he was not German.

"Am I at home in Germany? Of course I am," she said at the ceremony. "But how can I be sure of this when there are people who don't want me here. In our country, in my country, everyone should be able to realize their dreams."

The NSU murders put Germany’s police and domestic intelligence services in a particularly bad light. The authorities failed to consider xenophobic motives for the killings for several years, instead chalking them up to organized crime in ethnic communities.

The cases were even derogatorily dubbed the “Döner Murders“ because so many of the victims were Turkish and a few worked at kebab shops.

Merkel asked the family members of the victims for forgiveness.

“I know how difficult it must be for you to be here today,” she said.

Kenan Kolat, the head of the Turkish Community in Germany, said he welcomed the state ceremony but lamented that the country’s political leaders had apparently learned little from a spate of xenophobic murders in the early 1990s.

“It’s important to condemn racism but that’s not enough,” Kolat told the Neues Deutschland newspaper.

The Local/mry

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

19:10 February 24, 2012 by Almirante
Yes, German is now oh so humane because Germans wag their fingers at what their grandfathers did.

Congratulations, Germany! You have come so far.

You no longer mass-murder and harvest the gold fillings of people who don't fit your accepted and approval-stamped religions.

But let someone show an interest in a religion that isn't Catholic, Lutheran (and a few other "acceptable" Protestant religions, or Judaism (you really *have to* at least socially tolerate Judaism now, don't you, no matter what you say behind closed doors?).

Suddenly that small religion is "suspect," "strange," and all manner of other adjectives pulled directly from Reich Minister Goebbel's propaganda pages of the 1930s and 40s.

Don't pat yourselves on the backs just yet. You might break that arm you'll need to beat up someone tomorrow.
22:18 February 24, 2012 by Dizz
So how long should the sins of the father be attached to the son? Your post borders on the absurd. Everybody knows that Germany has a problem with xenophobia and suspicion. All you need to do is be from a different kiez in the same town and that is often enoug. Suspicion and xenophobia are just that, irrational fear and there are those who deal with that fear by becoming aggressive. That is simply mamallian, not uniquely German.

At least they know that they have this problem and give them some credit for acknowledging a failing. You must not realise how hard a thing that is for them to do.
14:57 February 27, 2012 by Craptastic
I second your derision there, Dizz. Almirante, you need to sweep your own stoop.
03:18 March 7, 2012 by Jeff10
When will Turkey hold memorials for millions of Europeans killed by the Turks from the 1345 to the late 1800's? What about the Turks' murder of a few million Armenians? When might we expect apologies and handwringing from the Turks for these centuries of murderous brutality?
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