• Germany edition
 
Neo-Nazi terror gang trauma still raw a year on
Photo: DPA

Neo-Nazi terror gang trauma still raw a year on

Published: 04 Nov 2012 07:22 GMT+01:00
Updated: 04 Nov 2012 07:22 GMT+01:00

“I can understand that for many citizens – especially for the victims’ families – trust in the country’s security framework and its officials is badly damaged,” Hans-Georg Maaßen, the head of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, told the newspaper Welt am Sonntag.

Maaßen said it was his job to regain that trust, but he also defended officials.

“Unfortunately public criticism of constitutional protection doesn’t take into consideration that without the good work in the last 10 years in Germany of those protecting the constitution there would have been terrorist attacks that surely would have cost people their lives," he said.

He mentioned several steps officials have taken, including the establishment last December of a cooperative centre to protect against right extremists and the opening in September of a radical right database.

The comments come a year after a neo-Nazi terrorist gang likely behind a seven-year murder spree targeting immigrants was uncovered. While Germany has sought to mend security flaws, trauma still reverberates.

Feelings of shock and anger ran deep in Germany after details began to emerge on November 4 last year of the cold-blooded killings of nine men of Turkish and Greek origin and a policewoman between 2000 and 2007.

With a Turkish community of around three million people, Germany was jolted into an all-out security reform, especially of its domestic intelligence service, which came under fire for a botched probe that led to top-flight resignations.

Authorities have faced intense pressure to explain how the extremist gang was able to operate with impunity for 11 years, particularly as domestic intelligence services had informants close to the trio themselves.

Kenan Kolat, president of the Turkish Community of Germany, has said that one year on from the discovery of the extremist cell, he is "very disappointed" and "bitter" about the government's response.

"The political class doesn't want to recognise that there is an enormous problem of racism in Germany," he told reporters this week, saying more lessons needed to be drawn from the affair.

He called for a broad social debate on what he termed "institutional racism".

The neo-Nazi gang calling itself the National Socialist Underground (NSU) only came to light when two members, Uwe Böhnhardt, 34, and Uwe Mundlos, 38,

were found dead in an apparent suicide pact and a now 37-year-old woman Beate Zschäpe turned herself in.

She is still being held in custody and is expected to be charged with murder soon. Around 10 people are suspected of links to the trio. While a network of supporters spread across the country seems to have been proven, their multiple links to security services who failed to act on intelligence has kept a parliamentary investigative commission busy.

Head of that commission Sebastian Edathy, has highlighted "a mentality problem within the security services", including the police, and suggested more rigorous recruitment of officials.

Its hotly anticipated report is expected by the end of the year.

Leading investigators into the murders initially assumed that criminal elements from the Turkish community were behind the rash of killings. Suspicion also fell on the victims' relatives, a point Chancellor Angela Merkel called "particularly tormenting" at a memorial service in February.

The killings were "a disgrace for our country", Merkel said, vowing to do everything possible to shed light on them and bring those responsible and their supporters to justice.

In July, the head of the domestic intelligence agency, Heinz Fromm, stepped down after it emerged that the agency had destroyed files with information about the extremist group several days after the NSU came to light.

"We have to repair the security apparatus to restore confidence. Personnel changes will not be enough," Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said, quoted on Thursday by the Passauer Neue Presse newspaper.

The scandal claimed two other top officials in quick succession - the head of the secret service bureau in the eastern state of Saxony resigned, while the leader of Thuringia state's bureau was dismissed.

"We were promised a lot, also by Chancellor Merkel. Then we heard that files were destroyed and we have the feeling that we're not getting any closer to the bottom of this," Gamze Kubasik, whose father Mehmet was killed in 2006, told Friday's Tagesspiegel newspaper.

"We feel deceived and I am angry and sad."

AFP/mw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

17:13 November 4, 2012 by IchBinKönig
I would say, and many would agree, the Taking the Train is much more scary and traumatic. WHat, with the Left Wing Terrorists Hekla ACTUALLY still on the loose, committing acts of terror. Can't wait to see the shenanigans they pull on the 4 hour train to Munich...

Hekla is still pissed about Stuttgart 21, and i don't see that changing anytime soon.
Today's headlines
Police suspect neo-Nazis of Reichstag attack
An investigator gives a sniffer dog the scent of an object found at the scene. Photo: DPA

Police suspect neo-Nazis of Reichstag attack

Investigators believe a Molotov cocktail thrown at the Reichstag building in Berlin early on Monday morning was the work of a far-right group, a police spokeswoman said on Tuesday. READ  

Unemployment rate stagnates in September
Photo: DPA

Unemployment rate stagnates in September

Unemployment in Germany stagnated in September, as clouds continue to build over Europe's biggest economy, official data showed on Tuesday. READ  

Germany struggles with Turkey Nato mission
A Bundeswehr Patriot missile in southern Turkey. Photo: DPA

Germany struggles with Turkey Nato mission

A shortage of trained troops caused more embarrassment for Germany's military on Tuesday when it emerged that more than one in four soldiers taking part in a Nato mission in Turkey are not getting their allotted time off between deployments. READ  

Spielberg to shoot spy thriller in Berlin
Spielberg (l), Amy Ryan (c) and Tom Hanks (r). Photo: DPA

Spielberg to shoot spy thriller in Berlin

Director Steven Spielberg is to shoot his next film in Germany, the Berlin-Brandenburg Film Board announced on Monday. The Jurassic Park and Saving Private Ryan director is turning his attention to a Cold War spy thriller. READ  

Lufthansa pilots start Frankfurt strike
Photo: DPA

Lufthansa pilots start Frankfurt strike

The fourth pilots’ strike in recent weeks hit Germany’s biggest airport on Tuesday morning, with long-haul Lufthansa flights grounded at Frankfurt. READ  

EU may drop Russian gas, Merkel warns
Chancellor Merkel with Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb in Berlin on Monday. Photo: DPA

EU may drop Russian gas, Merkel warns

Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday that Germany and Europe may have to review their energy cooperation with Russia in the long-term if the Ukraine standoff does not abate. READ  

3,000 refugees arrive at Munich station
Munich's Hauptbahnhof. Photo: DPA

3,000 refugees arrive at Munich station

More than 3,000 refugees, including hundreds of children, have arrived at Munich’s central train station over the past few weeks, according to police. READ  

Deutsche Bahn freezes most ticket prices
Photo: DPA

Deutsche Bahn freezes most ticket prices

Germany’s train operator Deutsche Bahn on Monday attempted to take the fight to cheap coach services, which have eaten into its market share, by freezing the price of second class tickets. READ  

Bavarian independence becomes reality online
Christian Söder at the Los Angeles headquarters of ICANN in April. Photo: DPA

Bavarian independence becomes reality online

Starting on Tuesday, people and businesses in Bavaria will be able to use web addresses with the domain .bayern, ending the Free State's online subjection to the Federal Republic of Germany. READ  

JobTalk Germany
Immigrant firms create 2.2 million German jobs
Photo: DPA

Immigrant firms create 2.2 million German jobs

A new study shows more and more immigrants are starting businesses in Germany, bringing some much-needed entrepreneurial spirit to the country. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
National
Revealed: Germany's military feet of clay
Marks & Spencer
Sponsored Article
Marks and Spencer: Win €300 toward your new autumn wardrobe
Photo: Shutterstock
Society
Quiz: How good is your German?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Thousands take to Berlin's streets for marathon
Photo: DPA
Politics
Germans look to UK to liven up Parliament
Photo: DPA
Society
'Incest should be legal,' says ethics board
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Ten noises that sound very different in German
Photo: DPA
Society
QUIZ: Can you pass the German citizenship test?
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
How to become an au pair in Germany
Photo: Shutterstock
Gallery
Ten German words you'll never want to hear again
Sponsored Article
Bilingual education from nursery to graduation at Phorms
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,149
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd