Neo-Nazi graffiti found in Ludwigshafen fire scene

Suspected neo-Nazi graffiti has been found at a building housing a Turkish cultural centre and residential apartments in Ludwigshafen in which nine people died in a fire last night. The graffiti has fuelled speculation that the fire was a result of xenophobic arson. The German word for hate –hass – was written twice on the wall in SS-rune style writing. Police claim that the graffiti must have been put there before the fire.

“We cannot exclude any cause of fire,” Lothar Liebig, the director of the public prosecutor’s office, told Tagesspiegel.

Two Turkish girls have reported seeing a man in the building’s corridor setting a baby carriage alight shortly before the fire broke out. There were attacks against the building in 2006. Turkish media has been widely speculating that the fire was the result of an attack by neo-Nazis.

“Respect for the victims demands that we wait for the results of the police investigation and avoid making any prejudgements,” chairman of the foreign committee of Germany and CDU member Ruprecht Polenz told Bild-Zeitung. “But it doesn’t help anybody to fuel the fire now,” he added.

On Monday, Kurt Beck, the premier of Rhineland-Palatinate and the leader of the SPD Party, ruled out the possibility of a xenophobic attack. The Turkish ambassador to Germany Ali Irtemçelik criticized German officials for ruling out xenophobic arson as a cause for the fire before starting an official investigation. Irtemçelik, in turn, was also criticized.

“Sometimes ambassadors, too, have to be taught manners,” German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

The media is speculating that if the investigation does uncover a xenophobic motive, Germany might be subject to international criticism for both its rightwing movement and the swiftness with which politicians ruled out xenophobic causes.


Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

The German government says it is in talks over further compensation for victims of the attack on the Munich Olympics, as the 50th anniversary of the atrocity approaches.

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

Ahead of the commemoration in September, relatives of the Israelis killed have indicated they are unhappy with what Germany is offering.

“Conversations based on trust are taking place with representatives of the victims’ families,” a German interior ministry spokesman told AFP when asked about the negotiations.

He did not specify who would benefit or how much money had been earmarked, saying only that any package would “again” be financed by the federal government, the state of Bavaria and the city of Munich.

On September 5th, 1972, eight gunmen broke into the Israeli team’s flat at the Olympic village, shooting dead two and taking nine Israelis hostage, threatening to kill them unless 232 Palestinian prisoners were released.

West German police responded with a bungled rescue operation in which all nine hostages were killed, along with five of the eight hostage-takers and a police officer.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists  held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Horst Ossingert

The spokeswoman for the victims’ families, Ankie Spitzer, told the German media group RND that the amount currently on the table was “insulting” and threatened a boycott of this year’s commemorations.

She said Berlin was offering a total of €10 million including around €4.5 million already provided in compensation between 1972 and 2002 — an amount she said did not correspond to international standards. 

“We are angry and disappointed,” said Spitzer, the widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer who was killed in the attack. “We never wanted to talk publicly about money but now we are forced to.”

RND reported that the German and Israeli governments would like to see an accord by August 15th.

The interior ministry spokesman said that beyond compensation, Germany intended to use the anniversary for fresh “historical appraisal, remembrance and recognition”.

He said this would include the formation of a commission of German and Israeli historians to “comprehensively” establish what happened “from the perspective of the year 2022”.

This would lead to “an offer of further acts of acknowledgement of the relatives of the victims of the attack” and the “grave consequences” they suffered.