Not pleasant, but essential reading:
“In the three months since the news broke, there has been ample evidence to suggest Germany’s far right has been celebrating rather than condemning the killing spree.
At a fascist march in Munich in January, demonstrators blasted the Pink Panther theme tune from loudspeakers, a reference to bizarre videos featuring the cartoon character which the group produced.
Just a few weeks after two core members of the group were found dead in a camper van after an apparent double suicide, football supporters in Zwickau, the eastern town where the NSU members had been living under false identities, chanted “Terrorzelle Zwickau – ole, ole, ole”. A footballer from FSV Zwickau was fined after responding to shouts of “Sieg!” from the crowd during the same match with “Heil!”.
By the German government’s latest estimate, from 2010, there are 9,500 rightwing extremists in Germany who are “ready to commit violence”. That year, 16,375 “rightwing-motivated” crimes were recorded.
The perpetrators are not as easy to spot as they were in the late 1990s, when Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Böhnhardt, two of the key NSU trio, were photographed at neo-Nazi marches with shaved heads, wearing bomber jackets and boots with white shoelaces, their trousers held up with red, black and white braces.
But German neo-Nazis are not always so circumspect. Well-publicised internet “hitlists” target leftwing politicians, pubs and social projects. There have been at least 182 murders motivated by rightwing extremism since German reunification in 1990, according to the Antonio Amadeu foundation pressure group. The government put the figure at just 47 in December, though some states are now increasing their own numbers after going back through their files.
Among the general population, intolerance is on the increase. A long-term study by the sociologist Wilhelm Heitmeyer in 2011 showed that every second German believes too many foreigners live in Germany, and 53% would have a problem moving into an area where lots of Muslims lived, an increase of 6% from 2004.
Against this backdrop of tacit racism it is no wonder that detectives appear not to have bothered to investigate rightwing extremism as a possible motive for the 10 killings, according to Katina Schubert, an expert in race relations from the leftwing Die Linke party.
“It’s clear the police and intelligence agencies were racist to the core,” she claimed. “They assumed right from the start that the eight Turks and one Greek man were killed by members of their own immigrant communities. The police briefed that these men were embroiled in drug smuggling plots or other crimes.”
Until the group was uncovered in November, the killings were known in Germany as the “doner murders”, which incorrectly gave the impression all the dead men were kebab sellers, reinforcing the stereotype that that’s what Turks in Germany do.
In Berlin on Thursday, Merkel apologised to the families of those killed. “For years, some relatives themselves unfairly faced suspicion that is particularly oppressive,” said the chancellor. “I ask for forgiveness for that.”
The police in Germany are “blind in the right eye”, say critics. “A 17-year-old in Nuremberg, where I live, was almost beaten to death by a neo-Nazi and the police didn’t take it at all seriously,” said Idil, a 19-year-old student attending an anti-Nazi counter-march in Dresden earlier this month. The boy, a Kurdish friend of hers, was left for dead in April 2010 after remarking on a Thor Steinar accessory carried by his attacker’s girlfriend. “