• Germany's news in English
 

Beate Zschäpe: neo-Nazi of mystery

Published: 09 May 2013 11:19 GMT+02:00

Some have argued that the ten people Zschäpe stands accused of helping to murder - eight men of Turkish origin, another with Greek roots, and a German policewoman - were overshadowed during the chaotic start of the judicial process.

Others have gone further and say that although the process will take at least two years and be mind-blowingly detailed, the trial itself is more digestible for a nation hungry for answers about the murders, than the institutional incompetence and racism that was this week described as society's wallpaper.

And so, even as demonstrators outside the Munich court room held up photos of the victims, inside - and around the world - all eyes were inevitably on Zschäpe, or rather on the back she had firmly turned on photographers.

Different attention because of her gender?

And all that attention on Zschäpe has been - perhaps not greater - but skewed, because of her gender.

First, her presence in the fascist terrorist gang brought implications of salaciousness to the gory story and the National Socialist Underground trio. Apparently she had initially been girlfriend to Uwe Mundlos and then left him for Uwe Böhnhardt.

She shared with them the now notorious flat in Zwickau, introducing one to neighbours as her boyfriend, the other as her brother. It seems the men were crucial in her life and she told police her family was dead when she handed herself in shortly after the two Uwes died in a murder-suicide.

Was it this tangled relationship, or simply the fact that she was a woman, that led large parts of the German media to label her the Nazi Braut - Nazi bride or Nazi moll?

There has even been focus on her clothes. Zschäpe, whose dark suit and white shirt that she wore in court on Monday were subject to a detailed examination, is now back to wearing prison issue blue trousers, a checked shirt and white sweatshirt, tabloid paper Bild gleefully reported on Tuesday.

Did her gender make her any less complicit than the male accomplices also standing trial in Munich - for lesser and fewer crimes?

Is there an assumption that she could not have been a driving force behind the campaign of terror that the trio are alleged to have carried out against immigrants over seven years?

What really eludes us all in the Zschäpe enigma is any clue to her motivation. The details of her early life are fairly miserable, supposedly dominated by a dysfunctional relationship with her mother.

Still, it seems the pieces were picked up fairly effectively by her grandmother, and her childhood was no more miserable than many others who did not turn to neo-Nazism.

Reasons remain mysterious

Yet she broke off contact with her grandmother, and she and the two Uwes became heavily involved in the regional fascist scene. They became founder members of the Jena area Kameradschaft group, and had links to the highly unpleasant Thuringia Homeland Protection League (THS).

Why the trio decided to form their little National Socialist Underground cell and jump headlong into direct action allegedly culminating in serial murder, is also a puzzle, not least because Zschäpe has refused to speak during her pre-trial custody.

Yet for Zschäpe, being a neo-Nazi was a full time occupation. While she juggled several identities in order to defraud the social security system the Uwes repeatedly risked discovery and arrest by carrying out multiple bank robberies.

And all the while the trio were allegedly planning the murders and bombings that the two men travelled the length and breadth of the country to carry out.

Zschäpe has so far refused to make any statements to the police, and her lawyers - with names which are German for Steel, Storm and Army - have said she will not speak in court - all of which only heightens the mystery shrouding the woman at the centre of Germany's neo-Nazi storm.

Hannah Cleaver

hannah.cleaver@thelocal.com

twitter.com/hannahcleaver2

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
German women have World Cup in their sights
Germany are among the favourites. Photo: DPA archive

German women have World Cup in their sights

After getting their hands on the world cup in 2003 and 2007, the German women’s national team are trying to make it three out of the last four this summer in Canada. READ  

Munich headteacher: 'Atheists are stupid'
"I don't need to justify it because it's in the Bible". Photo: DPA

Munich headteacher: 'Atheists are stupid'

A head teacher at a state school in Munich is attempting to introduce a strict Christian regime by hanging crosses in the classroom and holding daily prayers. He's within the law, but parents and pupils are beginning to resist. READ  

Baby ducks shut down Autobahn traffic
Stock image of baby ducks running. Photo: DPA.

Baby ducks shut down Autobahn traffic

Police officers and a fire fighter crane were called in to rescue five orphaned baby ducks on Friday, stopping autobahn traffic briefly to escort them to safety. READ  

Taliban release German hostage in Afghanistan
The region of Kunduz in northern Afghanistan. Photo: DPA

Taliban release German hostage in Afghanistan

An employee of the German International Development Agency (GIZ) has been released from captivity in northern Afghanistan after being taken prisoner by the Taliban six weeks ago. READ  

Cameron and Merkel sing from same hymn sheet
Chancellor Merkel and Prime Minister Cameron arrive at the Federal Chancellery in Berlin. Photo: DPA

Cameron and Merkel sing from same hymn sheet

Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron presented a newly united front at a Berlin press conference on Friday, after their first meeting where the UK premier set out his demands for reform of the European Union. READ  

German industry: Brexit would be ‘disastrous’
Photo: DPA

German industry: Brexit would be ‘disastrous’

The German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) have told the BBC that if the UK were to leave the EU it would be disastrous for both countries. READ  

At last, Germany has a new Top Model
Vanessa is over the moon. Photo:DPA

At last, Germany has a new Top Model

Everyone can breath easily again. Despite a delay of two weeks due to a bomb threat, Heidi Klum has finally been able to choose Germany’s next top model - a 19-year-old from her own home town. READ  

Steinmeier: corruption poisons football
Steinmeier had harsh words for FIFA. Photo:DPA

Steinmeier: corruption poisons football

Foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Thursday that if world football can't clear up "poisonous" corruption, state bodies need to step in, amid a graft scandal engulfing governing body FIFA. READ  

Greece eclipses G7 meeting in Dresden
G7 finance ministers in Dresden. Photo: DPA

Greece eclipses G7 meeting in Dresden

Debt-wracked Greece's battle to hammer out a deal with its creditors dominated a meeting of finance ministers from the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations in Dresden on Thursday, with officials insisting much work still lay ahead. READ  

EU investigates Germany over airport security
Photo: DPA

EU investigates Germany over airport security

The European Commission said on Thursday that it had referred Germany to the EU Court of Justice for failing to regularly check up on its airport security measures at some airports. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Features
Fassbinder's blaze of glory
Rhineland
Defusing Cologne's giant WW2 bomb
Travel
1,000 years of Leipzig
National
Cops have nothing to go on after ministry toilet theft
Sport
The hidden history of FC Bayern Munich
Technology
In future, we may all be scraping drones off windshields
National
The 65-year-old who gave birth to quadruplets
Travel
Why the train strike is bad for passengers and workers
National
Meet Germany's Eurovision hope
Business & Money
Is 2015 a new moment for jobsharing?
Features
How the LGBT rights movement was born in Germany
National
Why you don't make bomb jokes at the airport
National
Why Germany needs a little less tipple
National
Who Germans and Americans trust... and don't
Politics
What the UK election means for Germany
National
Why Germany is great for mums
Features
The Germans with GI dads
Five ways Germany falls short on gay rights
Travel
Giant tortoise found riding Munich rail
National
FCK CPS? A-OK with court
Politics
Opinion: Brexit's dangers for Germany
Features
Smart kids all want to work for BMW
National
Minister shows off top Denglisch
National
Germany's 'other genocide' in Africa
National
Arms firms get a 'must do better' mark on ethics
Sport
Bayern's anticlimactic 25th Bundesliga win
Politics
A Greek learning politics in Germany
Features
The battle of the "Gates of Berlin"
National
Germany's 'very poor' lobbying record
National
Germany's favourite baby names of 2014
Politics
Merkel's 15 years at the top of German politics
Travel
Lowest of the low: how woman exploited Germanwings crash
Features
Spice up asparagus season with The Local's serving suggestions
Sport
Football and the €30,000 firework
Technology
Why scientists oppose killer robots
National
'Cannibal cop' gets 8 years
National
Which city is Germany's worst for drivers?
Technology
Electrifying 'Ostalgia'
National
Cologne Cathedral returns from space
Pupils mourn lost classmates
National
Freed after 25 years on death row
Is your workload 'out of control'? You're not alone...
Features
Paddy's Day, Berlin style
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

6,699
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd