Neo-Nazi Murders in Germany

I'll start this one with a general trigger warning: much of what will be discussed here could be triggering, from Neo-Nazis, to their racist murders and attacks, and suicide. Please take appropriate care of yourself in reading this piece.

Shaker The Bald Soprano wrote me in German a couple of days ago, pointing me to a couple of links at the Suddeutsche Zeitung (a well-known German newspaper): first, to an overview page about Right-wing Terror (German language, possibly-triggering images), and the second, to a chilling article (German language, TW; Guardian article in English here) about a list of 88* people on a "hit list" of a Neo-Nazi terror cell based in Zwickau, in the former East Germany. This is alarmingly common in that region: only a few months ago I reported on a wonderful con job pulled by a social justice group against a Neo-Nazi rock concert's attendees, also in Thuringia**.

On the list were many prominent Turkish and Islamic people, and two senior politicians from Munich. The two men and one woman accused of having been in the terror cell came to the police's attention (the latest time: at least one law enforcement agent has been linked to the two and one of their murders, possibly explaining why they were able to evade capture for thirteen years) when the two men were cornered after a chase following a bank robbery, and decided to kill themselves rather than be captured. Meanwhile at their home in Zwickau, a young woman rescued her two cats before the home she shared with the two men exploded, after which she disappeared. Turning herself in a few days later, she admitted to being the third member of the terror cell.

The cell is believed to have carried out at least ten murders (including a police officer), fourteen bank robberies, and at least two nailbomb attacks. I'm not using their names here because I believe that people like this deserve to have their crimes remembered and their names forgotten.

Questions - BIG questions - are now being raised in Germany: how this could have gone on for so long, how the so-called "Doner"-killers*** could have been so badly misprofiled as the police agencies' "Operation Bosphorus" might suggest, how many other groups like this are out there and possibly being protected by rogue law-enforcement agents? Should Germany ban the NDP, which is the extreme right's "acceptable" face? Should a national database of right-wing extremists be constructed to help law enforcement? How is Germany going to move forward and provide reasonable surety of safety to targeted groups?

Up to now, Germany has taken a stand against right-wing extremism by bans: bans on Nazi gear, expressions, songs, anything associated with the Nazis. It might be time to move beyond the focus on the superficial aspects - I'm not saying they should end the bans! - and begin to look into organizing the people against these extremists, rather than letting the public sleepily assume that there's no real problem.

Go after them where they are, not where they were.

* "88" is important to Neo-Nazis because H is the 8th letter of the alphabet, and thus "88" is a dogwhistle for "Heil Hitler".

** Thuringia is one of the eastern areas with a notable concentration of right-wing extremism. Many Thuringers, of course, are not right-wing at all, but there is an alarming number of incidents that originate or occur there.

*** Many of the killings were of vendors at kebab stands, targeted as "non-Germans" in the very same way Jews, gays, Roma, and other "undesirables" were targeted in the 30s. This ain't no moral vacuum, here.

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