Police plead for help in neo-Nazi terror hunt

Calling on the German public for help, the authorities hunting supporters of the neo-Nazi terrorist cell on Thursday described the chillingly efficient plans made by the group to murder at least ten people.

Police plead for help in neo-Nazi terror hunt
Photo: DPA

The self-styled National Socialist Underground (NSU) carefully devised their attacks, in which they killed nine shop owners and a policewoman, said Jörg Ziercke, head of the Federal Criminal Police (BKA) at a press conference.

“They didn’t want to leave anything to chance. Great preparation went into at least some of the murders,” he said, sitting in front of a table loaded down with guns recovered from the group’s flat. He said detectives had also found hand-drawn sketches of the places where people were shot, as well as road maps of how to get there.

He said work was underway to gather enough evidence to arrest the man who rented the flat in Zwickau, Saxony – yet they did not yet have enough probable cause.

“A person can say they lost their identity card, or that it was stolen and misused,” he said.

He and Harald Range, the new federal state prosecutor, appealed to the public for information about Uwe Mundlos, Uwe Böhnhardt as well as their alleged accomplice Beate Zschäpe.

Range spoke of a burning xenophobia and hatred of the state which united the three as they planned the killings of Turkish and Greek shopkeepers, as well as that of a policewoman, plus the detonation of two bombs in largely immigrant areas.

They had funded their underground lives, which included frequent trips across Germany, and multiple car hires, with at least 14 bank robberies, he said.

He said it was clear now that Mundlos had shot Böhnhardt and then himself, after they were stopped by police following one of those bank robberies earlier this year.

Zschäpe and two others suspected of being supporters are in investigative custody, while attempts are being made to arrest a third man – but the authorities are keen to identify more possible helpers.

“Böhnhardt, Mundlos and Zschäpe used different names, fake identity cards and train cards as well as fake passports while they were active. They lived in several flats, three in Zwickau. They had to have helpers and supporters,” said Ziercke.

“But there are gaps in what we know about where they were and what they were doing. They stayed in camp sites on the Baltic coast and hired many cars and bicycles. They rented 56 vehicles between 2000 and 2011.”

He said any information about where they were and what they were doing would be helpful – although his detectives were currently working through around 2,500 pieces of evidence taken from the flat, which Zschäpe is accused of blowing up shortly after Böhnhardt and Mundlos died.

“Our question to the public is, where were they, what were they doing, back until 2000 and even before that. Who saw them in car parks, on campsites, or when hiring cars or other vehicles?” asked Ziercke.

The Local/hc

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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.