• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Beate Zschäpe: neo-Nazi of mystery

The Local · 9 May 2013, 11:19

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.

Story continues below…

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
Govt argues over using army inside Germany
Photo: DPA

After a string of violent rampages in one week, an argument has broken out in Germany’s coalition government over whether the army (Bundeswehr) should be deployed inside the country.

Analysis
How Merkel reacts to crises better than other leaders
Photo: DPA

It is of critical importance for a country how a leader chooses to react to an act of terrorism. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cool head sets an example for the rest of the country.

Turkey demands Germany extradite Gülen supporters
Fethullah Gülen. Photo: DPA

Ankara called on Germany on Thursday to extradite supporters of Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen, whom the Turkish government accuses of plotting a failed coup earlier this month.

German police raid 'hotbed of radicalization'
Police entering one of the residences. Photo: DPA

A mosque and eight residences were searched.

Germany boasts Europe's best value beaches
This beach just got named Europe's cheapest. Do you know where it is? Photo: DPA

Forget Mallorca or the Costa del Sol - the best beach bargains can be found in Germany. But where?

After rampages, Merkel says again: Wir schaffen das
Photo: DPA

Speaking for the first time after a Syrian refugee blew himself up in southern Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel reaffirmed her commitment to helping refugees on Thursday.

The Local List
Germany's five most mind-boggling conspiracy theories
What's the point of this mysterious tower at Tempelhof Airport? Photo: DPA.

Think that wacky paranoid types only exist in the USA? Here’s a few crazy German conspiracies to prove you wrong.

Munich shooting
Gunman's friend arrested for 'planning school attack'
File photo: DPA

Police found chemicals and instructions for making explosives, as well as evacuation plans of his school in the youth's possession.

Bremen mall evacuated due to escaped psychiatric patient
Police outside the mall. Photo: DPA

The man had reportedly made worrying statements relating to Isis and last week's shooting in Munich.

German ambassador to Turkey left out in cold
Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Photo: DPA

The Turkish government has been giving German ambassador Martin Erdmann the cold shoulder for weeks, after German parliamentarians passed a bill recognizing the Armenian genocide.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
DPA
Gallery
IN PICTURES: How Munich responded to shooting spree
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
National
Bavaria train attack: Were police right to shoot to kill?
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Technology
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
Travel
Six soothing day trips to escape the bustle of Berlin
International
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Features
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
Sponsored Article
Health insurance for expats in Germany: a quick guide
National
Five things to know about guns in Germany
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Culture
10 things you need to know before attending a German wedding
National
Eight weird habits you'll pick up living in Germany
Lifestyle
Six reasons 'super-cool' Berlin isn't all it's cracked up to be
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Society
Only one country likes getting naked on the beach more than Germany
Lifestyle
23 ridiculously fascinating things you never knew about Berlin
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Culture
8 German words that perfectly sum up your 20s
Lifestyle
Can't make it past the door at Berlin's most famous club? Help is at hand
Business & Money
Why Frankfurt could steal London's crown as Europe's finance capital
Features
6 surprising things I learned about Germany while editing The Local
Culture
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
10,746
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd