Silent protests to mourn the victims of the National Socialist Underground will be taking place across Germany.
On 26 November, anti-fascists in at least eleven German cities (Berlin, Bielefeld, Cologne, Essen, Frankfurt, Görlitz, Hamburg, Hannover, Kiel, Munich and Nuremberg) will come together to mourn the ten (currently known) victims of the far-Right terror group, National Socialist Underground (NSU). The organisers describe themselves as ‘the silent mob, a movement of people, for people’. The theme of their protest is ‘Silence Against Silence’ (Schweigen degen das Schweigen) and the aim is to send a message to the ‘silent majority in Germany’ that they must do more to oppose racism and fascism.
Questions about the National Socialist Underground
Following the apparent suicide of two neo-Nazis, shortly after they robbed a building society in Eisenach, Thuringia, Germany has been shocked to learn that Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Böhnhardt (and a third neo-Nazi, Beate Zschäpe who turned herself in) were responsible for at least ten murders, fourteen bank robberies and two nail bomb attacks between 2000 and 2007. Most of the victims were Turkish-born and worked in shops, but one victim was of Greek origin and the other a female police officer, who was shot in the head as she was sitting in her patrol car. All victims were shot dead in broad daylight by an assailant who calmly walked away afterwards and was not identified by witnesses.
Despite extensive intelligence on the neo-Nazi trio, Uwe Mundlos, Uwe Böhnhardt and Beate Zschäpe, eluded arrest for thirteen years. It has now emerged that one agent working for the domestic intelligence services was present at an internet café in the central city of Kassel in Hessen when Halit Yozgat, a 21-year-old Turkish man was shot at point-blank range on 5 April 2006. Rainder Wendet, chairman of the German Police Union, has defended police from accusations of incompetence pointing out that information was not passed on to the police and that the intelligence services’ operations against neo-Nazis may well have been too dependent on intelligence agencies paying far-right snitches for information with suggestions that an extensive network of informers was delivering little of value – and indirectly funding far-right activities’.
A government investigation into the activities of the NSU has been announced, taking on previously unsolved crimes across the country including suspected terror attacks in Cologne and Düsseldorf that injured more than thirty people, and the attempted 2008 murder of a Bavarian police chief who was stabbed by a masked assailant who yelled ‘Greetings from the National Resistance’. Investigators into the NSU have discovered a hit list of eighty-eight possible targets and a data device containing the names of 10,000 people among them politicians, church figures and associations opposed to the far Right.
Failing the victims
Up and until the discovery of crucial evidence in the burnt-out remains of the two dead neo-Nazis’ apartment (an explosion had rocked the flat in Zwickau, Saxony, shortly after their deaths), the families of those brutally assassinated had been told by the police that their loved ones were mixed up with foreign mafia and drug-dealers, possibly from Turkey, who were responsible for the murders. The police investigation into the murders, codenamed Operation Bosphorus, involved 150 police officers, investigating 11,000 people. According to the organisers of the silent protest ‘The police investigation into the killings over the years robbed the victims of even the last bit of honour and respect. For this reason, too, we of “Silence Against Silence” feel that it is our duty to stand shoulder to shoulder with the families of the victims.’
Roses to remember and resist
During the silent protests on Saturday 26 November white and red roses with the names of the ten currently known victims will be held up and then laid to honour the victims. In Germany, white roses also symbolise the resistance movement to the Nazi regime, and the red roses will be placed to remember the victims of the right-wing terror in the attacks in Norway of 22 July at Oslo and Utøya island.
‘Our silence is a memorial to the victims of right-wing terrorism’ conclude the organisers. ‘We are silent, because we are all Enver Simsek, Abdurrahim Özügru, Süleyman Tasköprü, Habil Kilic, Yunus Turgut, Ismail Yasgar, Theodoros Boulgarides, Halit Yozgat, Mehmet Kubasik, and Michéle Kiesewetter. And if we do not break the silence, we could be next.’