Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Many Shortcomings of Germany's Neo-Nazi Terror Trial

Nazi accountability crime corruption justice fascism police violence immigration shell games Germany

In the end, after a five-year trial against Beate Zschäpe and supporters of the right-wing extremist terror cell known as the "National Socialist Underground" (NSU), it's worthwhile to take another look at how it all began. To examine what happened on that day more than 20 years ago when Zschäpe, Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Böhnhardt went underground. It makes sense to focus on some of the details that were initially ignored, at secondary players who seemingly didn't play a significant role -- to understand just how complex the NSU really was.

Back then, on Jan. 26, 1998, police searched a garage in the eastern German city of Jena that had been rented by Zschäpe. They found five pipe bombs containing 1.3 kilograms of explosives. It looked as though the authorities had found a hot trail.

For the trio, that search meant it was time to disappear. Zschäpe and her two companions climbed into an old car to flee toward Chemnitz. But then the car broke down.

It was a completely normal breakdown and normal people would simply have called a tow truck and waited on the side of the road. But Zschäpe, Böhnhardt and Mundlos didn't wait -- and they made it to Chemnitz despite the mishap. After that, they were gone and stayed gone for almost 14 years -- until the terror network's cover was spectacularly blown in November 2011 when Böhnhardt and Mundlos committed suicide and Zschäpe set the trio's hideout in Zwickau on fire.

And what about the escape car they left behind? The trio alerted an old friend from whom they had borrowed the car and who shared their right-wing view of the world. That friend contacted another friend who towed the car away. It was only with the help of such friends that the three were able to erase the clues that could have helped lead the police to their hideout.  (more...)


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