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The horror of Hanau calls for drastic consequences


Spurensicherung in Hanau am 20.2.2020
Die Spurensicherung an einem der beiden Tatorte vom 20. Februar 2020 in Hanau picture alliance/Andreas Arnold/dpa

Another horror-filled night in Germany: on the night of 19 February 2020, nine people lose their lives because a German Nazi felt empowered to act in the name of a “race war”. He picked two shisha bars in which to commit, heavily armed, a massacre among the guests who in his racist worldview were “intruders” into Germany's “Kulturkreis” (cultural circle). Shisha bars are objects of hatred for all racists in Germany, as they symbolize the “intrusion of foreign cultures” by immigrants and the spread of so-called “clan criminality” hyped by the media.

Friedrich Burschel works as a Senior Advisor for Neo-Nazism and Structures/Ideologies of Discrimination at the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung in Berlin. Translation by My Linh Dang.

It took eight hours to confirm the obvious: a confession letter and video revealed the perpetrator as a Nazi prepared for violence, who himself was found dead next to another corpse in his apartment shortly thereafter. Initially, tabloid reporters resorted to their automatic response of racist speculation around motives related to “protection money blackmail” and the “drug scene”. Meanwhile, celebrations were already kicking off online: “NSU 2.0?” “Yes, Muslim, the NSU strikes.” “Going well.” “This is how it should be.” At 7:48, the deputy chairwoman of the Christian Democratic (CDU) parliamentary group, Katja Leikert, whose electoral district is in Hanau, put forward the typical, almost intolerable speculations whether it had been a “confused lone perpetrator”, a right-wing radical, or – you never know, after all – a left-wing radical. Apparently everything, even the most stupid assertions, had to be laid out on the table before the obvious could be identified and acknowledged.

In reality, the massacre in Hanau could have been anticipated. Germany is filled with heavily armed men waiting for the “day of vengeance”, “Day X”, or a state of emergency, and ready to strike—or who could feel empowered to commit their atrocities as part of a nebulous “leaderless resistance”. What lies behind us? These kinds of perpetrators have struck several times in the last one-and-a-half years alone, and numerous Nazi groups and cells on the brink of committing such atrocious crimes have been exposed. Civil servants in uniform and even soldiers have been found among some of them: that is to say, people who not only have access to large arsenals of weapons, but are also professionals when it comes to using them.

A selection of events: at the beginning of October 2018, the right-wing terror group “Revolution Chemnitz” was exposed. On 2 June 2019, CDU district president of Kassel, Walter Luebke, is assassinated on his terrace, shot in the head. Within the same month, during the second police raid at the home of former police officer Marko G. in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, a machine gun in the style of an Uzi equipped with a silencer, over 25,000 rounds of ammunition, and practice grenades from the German Army were seized. Marko G. is one of the heads and chatroom administrators of the doomsday prepper’s group “Nordkreuz”. In July 2019, a perpetrator inflicts life-threatening gunshot injuries on an Eritrean man in Wächtersbach, Hessia. In mid-September 2019, another perpetrator inflicts injuries on “foreign-looking people” in Taunusstein, firing steel pellets from a slingshot. On 2 October 2019, an assassin in Halle attempts a massacre in a synagogue and kills two passers-by. On New Year’s Eve, a local CDU politician in the Cologne neighbourhood of Porz fires on a young man of immigrant background, inflicting serious injuries. Authorities keep the perpetrator’s identity a secret for days, no arrest warrant is issued. In mid-January 2020, several shots are fired at the office of black SPD MP Karamba Diaby. The numerous shots fired at shelters for asylum-seekers or at the local kebab shop in Halle in mid-February 2020, where the perpetrator shot someone in October 2019,  are not even included in this list. In this week alone, twelve Nazis from all over the country were arrested, a “hardened core” who sought to trigger a civil war through terrorist attacks on, among other places, on mosques.

The atmosphere in Germany is being heated up by permanent racist agitation on social media. The suspected Hanau perpetrator, Tobias R., can be found on YouTube spreading crude conspiracy fantasies—a 24-page confession letter exists. The atmosphere is also being heated up by the omnipresence of this inhumane discourse in public and in parliamentary committees from the local level to the German federal parliament, where the ethno-nationalist Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) consistently ensures a racist atmosphere. This aggressive sentiment also targets people who dedicate themselves to refugee assistance, socio-cultural projects, women’s projects, politicians of all stripes even down to the local level, and everything that goes against the very narrow worldview held by the ethnic “warriors”.

The weapons are there, and thousands of heavily armed Nazis are waiting for the moment to strike. Some already have. Although one cannot expect much from this state in the struggle against violent Nazis and their “civil” helpers in pinstripes, the only consequence now can be to place the focus of state repression on these murderous gangs and disarm them. Because the next nationalist and racist attacks are already being planned and prepared!

We are outraged, and our thoughts are with the families of the victims and those who were critically injured in this murderous attack. Our solidarity with them must translate into action: we must guarantee that the vulnerable groups of our society who are in the Nazis’ deadly sights are protected and able to live safely and without fear in Germany. We must build the kind of political pressure that leads to drastic consequences.