• Germany's news in English

Cops 'quizzed neo-Nazi terror cell woman' in 2007

The Local · 29 Jan 2012, 12:38

Published: 29 Jan 2012 12:38 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

In what will be an embarrassing revelation for the authorities, Der Spiegel magazine reported that officers questioned Beate Zschäpe in 2007, but did not realise that her inconsistency could have been connected to anything sinister.

She is considered a crucial member of the self-styled National Socialist Underground (NSU) which claimed responsibility for killing nine small business owners and workers between 2000 and 2006. Eight of the victims were of Turkish origin and one was Greek.

The gang are thought to have shot a policewoman to death and stolen her weapon in 2007, three months after Zschäpe was questioned.

Investigators initially assumed the string of killings were connected to organised crime, only joining the dots in 2011 when the group self-destructed and the gun used in the killings was found in their flat.

Police called to a bank robbery last November stopped a caravan being used as a getaway vehicle, only to hear as one member of the NSU shot another and then himself.

Just a few hours later a flat used by the gang in Zwickau, Saxony was blown up – and the gun used to kill the nine shop-owners found in the rubble.

As police searched the wreckage for further clues, they found a DVD identifying the trio as the NSU and claiming responsibility for the murders.

Germany was shocked and horrified that such a group had been able to operate across the country for so long – and it soon emerged that the police had encountered the radical group as long ago as 1998 when their pipe-bomb workshop was uncovered.

But they were not arrested, and managed to go underground, invisible to police – although it seems a number of intelligence service informants within the neo-Nazi scene knew where they were.

And now Der Spiegel reports that police had Zschäpe in a questioning room in January 2007.

The 36-year-old was brought into a Zwickau police station for questioning not about the multiple murders now thought to be linked to her, but about water damage to the flat she shared with the two other NSU members.

Zschäpe repeatedly changed her story, saying she did not live in the water-damaged flat but later referring to it as “our house,” the magazine said.

She also identified herself under three different names – including one she used in Neo-Nazi circles - but none of these matched the signature she left on her statement.

Story continues below…

The police let her go, and three months later she is thought to have been an accomplice in the murder of the policewoman whose gun was found in possession of her fellow NSU members.

It also emerged last week that the NSU’s support network was much larger than originally, including a Neo-Nazi group described by the Süddeutsche Zeitung as militant, called Blood and Honour.

The Local/jcw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

17:52 January 29, 2012 by Englishted
Not exactly the image of the Aryan master race is she .
21:00 January 29, 2012 by wood artist
It's an age-old problem. Since the police were looking for something completely different, it never occurred to them that they actually had a potential terrorist. While her answers might have been confused and contradictory, that's often the case, although maybe not to the degree she displayed. People forget and then remember little things, so stories do change somewhat. An investigator focused on the water damage question wouldn't be likely to wonder "is this women involved in major crimes?"

Today's headlines
Dad who auctioned baby on eBay restricted from seeing child
Photo: DPA.

A German court ruled on Thursday that a man who put his one-month-old baby up for sale on the online auction platform eBay should only be allowed contact with the child under supervision.

Portugal's ruling party calls German minister 'pyromaniac'
Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble. Photo: DPA.

The head of Portugal's ruling Socialists called German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble a "pyromaniac" on Thursday after he criticized Lisbon for reversing course on austerity.

These are Germany's top ten universities
The new library of Freiburg University. Photo: Jörgens.mi / Wikimedia Commons

These are the best universities in all of Germany - at least according to one ranking.

Introducing Swabians - 'the Scots of Germany'
Photo: DPA

These Southern Germans have quite a reputation in the rest of the country.

Woman sues dentist over job rejection for headscarf
Photo: DPA

A dentist in Stuttgart is being taken to court by a woman whom he rejected for a job as his assistant on the basis that she wears a Muslim headscarf.

Isis suspect charged with scouting Berlin attack sites
Photo: DPA

German federal prosecutors said Thursday they had brought charges against a 19-year-old Syrian man accused of having scouted targets in Berlin for a potential attack by the Isis terror group.

Berlin Holocaust memorial could not be built now: creator
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, in Berlin. Photo: DPA.

The architect of the Berlin Holocaust memorial has said that, if he tried to build the monument again today, it would not be possible due to rising xenophobia and anti-Semitism in Germany and the United States.

'Liberal' Germany stopping Europe's 'slide into barbarism'
Ian Kershaw. Photo: DPA

Europe is not slipping into the same dark tunnel of hate and nationalism that it did in the 1930s - mainly thanks to Germany - one of the continent's leading historians has said.

Eurowings strike to hit 40,000 passengers
Travelers impacted by the strike on Thursday wait at Cologne Bonn airport. Photo: DPA.

The day-long strike by a Eurowings cabin crew union is expected to impact some 40,000 passengers on Thursday as hundreds of flights have been cancelled.

Deutsche Bank reports surprise quarter billion profit
Photo: DPA

Troubled German lender Deutsche Bank reported Thursday a surprise €256-million profit in the third quarter, compared with a loss of more than six billion in the same period last year.

10 German clichés that foreigners get very wrong
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
10 ways German completely messes up your English
Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd