• Germany's news in English
 

Neo-Nazi terror gang trauma still raw a year on

Published: 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
Germany's AfD heads right with new leader
Frauke Petry, the new leader of the AfD. Photo: Lukas Schulze/picture alliance/dpa

Germany's AfD heads right with new leader

Germany's Alternative for Germany (AfD) party ousted its co-founder and frontman Bernd Lucke on Saturday to elect a new leader from its right wing, signalling a shift in focus to immigration from its anti-euro origins. READ  

Extreme heat causes Autobahn to rupture
A fissure on the Autobahn near Heidelberg. Photo: DPA

Extreme heat causes Autobahn to rupture

The heatwave sweeping across the country may have Germans flocking to the sea this weekend, but the extreme temperatures are also causing Autobahns to break apart. READ  

Nazi island resort to be turned into luxury flats
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Nazi island resort to be turned into luxury flats

A vast Nazi mega-complex meant as holiday homes for German workers and later used by the Soviets as a Cold War barracks is about to be turned into luxury flats. READ  

Greece crisis
'Bundestag must vote on new bailout': Schäuble
A poster of German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble in Athens reads "For five years he has sucked your blood. Now tell him NO." Photo: DPA

'Bundestag must vote on new bailout': Schäuble

UPDATE: Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said on Friday that there would be no quick release of bailout funds to Greece after the country's referendum on whether to accept its creditors' terms on Sunday. READ  

Activists give Dalai Lama 80th birthday stamp
The new Deutsche Post stamp showing the Dalai Lama. Photo: DPA

Activists give Dalai Lama 80th birthday stamp

Pro-Tibet activists have created a new limited-edition stamp featuring the Dalai Lama to mark the Tibetan spiritual leader's 80th birthday. READ  

Women's World Cup
'Germany will crack England': top coach
Star striker Celia Sasic. Photo: DPA

'Germany will crack England': top coach

The manager of European champions FFC Frankfurt told The Local he expects Germany to beat England in the third place play-off in the Women's World Cup, and predicted his protege Celia Sasic will grab a goal or two. READ  

NSA surveillance scandal
Calls grow for govt to act on NSA spying
Chancellor Angela Merkel, the highest-profile German victim of NSA spying, speaking on the phone. Photo: DPA

Calls grow for govt to act on NSA spying

Green Party security expert Konstantin von Notz told The Local on Friday that Chancellor Angela Merkel is failing to restore faith in the German-US partnership following fresh spying revelations. READ  

Germany reach semis of beach volleyball worlds
Ilka Semmler and Katrin Holtwick. Photo: DPA file

Germany reach semis of beach volleyball worlds

Germany's top beach volleyball pair are storming the world championships in Holland and prepare to face Brazil in the semis on Friday. READ  

Environment minister blasts Merkel, colleagues
Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks. Photo: DPA

Environment minister blasts Merkel, colleagues

Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks loosed a broadside against her cabinet colleagues on Friday in a guest article for Die Welt, saying that they had decided to do too little to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in a way that would cost too much. READ  

Greece crisis
BILD polls readers in own 'Greece referendum'
Image: BILD/screenshot

BILD polls readers in own 'Greece referendum'

Tabloid Bild continued its campaign against bailouts for Greece on Friday by calling its own "referendum", asking readers to fill out a poll on whether Germany should keep stumping up. German politicians were divided on how the Greek vote would affect Europe. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
Police seize pensioner's WW2 heavy weapons haul
National
How to survive the Europe-wide heatwave
Sport
Is Schweini already out of the door at Bayern?
Politics
How German media shaped the Greece crisis
National
Car assembly robot crushes worker at Volkswagen
Rhineland
Weathermen red-faced over heatwave snow warning
Society
An eye for an eye? Mum protects child in playground with pepperspray
National
As it happened: Queen Elizabeth's final day in Germany
National
As it happened: Queen Elizabeth's second day in Germany
National
Queen Elizabeth II's first day in Germany - as it happened
National
Bus passengers tell fake racists where to get off
Politics
What's really in the Queen's handbag?
National
Germans say USA doesn't respect freedom
National
Yes, you CAN buy adult e-books before 10pm in Germany
VIDEO: Watch a 93-metre turbine crash to earth in slow motion
Gallery
Who's got a shot at the German Film Awards
Rhineland
Anger over 'child-free' beer garden
National
How do you do, Majestät?
National
Man defends right to pee in public with tear gas
Features
The Germans who won Waterloo for the British
Frankfurt
Should Germany ban circus animals?
Hamburg
Where people are having the most sex in Germany
Culture
Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Not this student...
National
Dresden's three-decade-long red light
Politics
Upper house calls for gay marriage now
Berlin
Berlin named 3rd-best city worldwide
Sport
In search of the toughest firefighter
Business & Money
German firms shine for European engineering students
Gallery
Hitler's paintings up for auction
National
German's 70-year search for murdered US pilot
Politics
What the G7 leaders agreed at Elmau
Business & Money
What really makes Germans happy
National
Playmobil builder leaves worldwide legacy
National
The car share that became a drug run
Politics
What Snowden revealed to Germany
Rhineland
Why wolf cubs are being raised by hand
National
Hitler's booze cave found
National
Environment makes Germany worth living in
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

6,940
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd