June 23, 1999: An explosive device explodes in the restaurant Sonnenschein in Nuremberg, Bavaria, injuring its owner. It is only by pure luck that he survived the vicious attack.
September 9, 2000: Enver Şimşek is gunned down at his flower stand in Nuremberg and left to die.
January 19, 2001: A bomb disguised as a traditional tin box for Christstollen (a traditional Christmas fruit bread) explodes in a grocery store in Probsteigasse in Cologne, seriously injuring the owner’s daughter.
June 13, 2001: Abdurrahim Özüdoğru is murdered in his Nuremberg alterations boutique with two shots to the head.
June 27, 2001: Just a few days later, Süleyman Taşköprü is murdered in his father’s store with three shots to the head.
August 29, 2001: Habil Kılıç is shot dead in his greengrocer’s shop in Munich.
February 25, 2004: Mehmet Turgut is murdered in his takeaway food shop with three shots to the head.
June 9, 2004: A nail bomb explodes in Keupstrasse in Cologne, injuring at least 22 people. The blast of the explosion wrecks a large section of the busy shopping street, but miraculously no one is killed.
June 9, 2005: On the one-year anniversary of the nail bomb attack in Cologne, İsmail Yaşar is killed by five shots in his takeaway food shop in Nuremberg.
June 15, 2005: Just a few days later, Theodoros Boulgarides is murdered in his locksmith store in Munich.
April 4, 2006: Mehmet Kubaşık is killed in his store in Dortmund.
April 6, 2006: Halit Yozgat dies from two shots to the head in his Internet café in Kassel.
April 25, 2007: Police officers Michèle Kiesewetter and Martin A. are gunned down in their patrol car. Martin A. is severely injured but survives, his colleague Michèle Kiesewetter however dies that day.
It is these names that we will remember forever. They are the names of parents and children, siblings and friends, of people whose deaths have left a huge void in the lives of everyone who knew them.
Four of these murders and two bombings took place in June, which is reason enough to now, in June 2020, remember and honor the victims and families of these attacks and all the others. We are united in mourning with their families and with the survivors, we feel the pain and the anger. We pledge to keep their memory alive.
Commemoration also means remembering who is responsible for this suffering, which is still felt to this day.
On the one hand, we have the perpetrators, whose names have been publicly circulated more than enough and who called themselves the “NSU”, short for “National Socialist Underground”. To this day it is still unclear and unverified how many people belonged to this “NSU” and how many active supporters it had. But we know with certainty that there were more people besides the three officially recognized members and significantly more than those who stood trial in Munich from 2013 to 2018. We know that it was probably local NSU sympathizers who selected and scouted the target locations for the attacks. We know it was a whole network of people that procured weapons, explosives, papers, money, and hideouts. We know many of their names – yet most have not faced any consequences for their actions to this day.
The NSU attackers and their supporters were motivated by their racist and fascist ideology. Racism guided their actions, building bombs and shooting people. We know all too well that this ideology remains an omnipresent poison in our society to this day and keeps leading to more suffering and death.
But it was not only the racism of the attackers and their supporters that caused harm to the victims and their families. It is also the personal, institutional, and structural racism within the German state and society that inflicted additional torture on the victims in the form of false accusations, endless harassment, and defamatory language. It is also the police officers who disregarded and even suppressed what the victims and their relatives said about racism and instead pushed their outlandish theories of organized crime and ethnic tensions for years.
It is also the intelligence officers who had been essential in establishing a neo-nazi scene, in the bizarre belief that they could control it through informants, and who then did not use their knowledge to prevent more attacks and investigate the crimes. It is also the judge who, during the trial, didn’t have any empathy for the relatives and ordered them not to speak; who, in his statement of reasons for the verdict, didn’t even manage to humanize the victims as individuals but othered them in the same way the perpetrators did. It is also the journalists, who even while the series of murders was still ongoing, uncritically reproduced everything the police told them and coined such sickening terms as “Döner murders”.
It is also the politicians in positions of power who make sure that no employees of the authorities, not even the informants, are held accountable for their actions and complicity – and instead, do everything in their power to obstruct progress in the investigation of the crimes.
It is not only the personal actions of many people, but it is also the structural problems within the authorities that laid the groundwork for the NSU’s actions.
So many people have been degraded, injured, and murdered because of racists and fascists who are convinced that they can divide people according to whether their lives are important or “worthless”. Every day countless people who are victimized by racism are let down by the state and wait in vain for support or justice. In order to finally bring this painful reality to an end, we must commit to fighting individual racism in people’s minds, structural racism in society, and also institutional racism in the authorities. With our project Entnazifizierung Jetzt, we want to contribute by raising awareness of the severity of racism within the state securiy authorities. What transpired in the case of the NSU complex has exposed the scale of the problem and has shown why we cannot trust the state authorities to solve it. It is crucial to research the scandals within the state security authorities, gather this knowledge, analyze the structural problems, and jointly exert pressure for change to happen. As a society, we owe it to the victims and their families to end the conditions that led to that harm that caused them such pain and to make sure that it will never ever happen again.
It is our responsibility to bring this harming and suffering to an end, and to fight for a just society.