20 years after the first NSU murder: Damaged memorial plaques

The NSU series of murders began 20 years ago in Nuremberg. Enver Şimşek was the first victim. Two more murders followed in the city.

The florist Enver Şimşek was murdered by the NSU on September 9, 2000 on this street Photo: Mark Mühlhaus / Attention / Agentur Focus

The cars roar past on Liegnitzer Strasse in Langwasser, on the southeastern edge of Nuremberg. Colorful gerberas are available for purchase under a red and yellow parasol. Ali Toy, 66 years old, is waiting for customers in his station wagon and reads the Koran in Arabic.

On September 9, 2000, the series of murders and terrorism of the so-called National Socialist Underground (NSU) began here in the Şimşek van. At that time, the flower wholesaler of Turkish origin Enver Şimşek was shot several times. Nine more murders of people with a migration history and of a policewoman from Thuringia as well as two bomb attacks in Cologne followed. In 1999 a bomb exploded in a pub in the southern part of Nuremberg, which was probably also laid by the NSU.

Ali Toy, the former employee of Enver Şimşek, lives in the Gleißhammer district, close to the snack bar of İsmail Yaşar, the father of two and the sixth victim of the NSU. Yaşar was killed on June 9, 2005 by the NSU murderers with five shots in the head and upper body. “İsmail Yaşar was a neighbor, I live a little further away,” says Ali Toy and you can tell that of the 47 years he has lived in Germany, he has spent several years in Franconia.

“When I went to the tram, I would greet him, he was always very friendly and we talked a little. He was also innocent. “” Innocent, Toy repeats this word several times in our conversation. When asked whether he feels comfortable in Germany, he says “Yes, of course. Germany is my second home. “

Enver Simsek war als Vertretung too

Toy only works at the flower stand on Saturdays and Sundays when the weather is nice. He receives a commission on the flowers sold. He takes a winter break from November to February. Actually he would have been standing on September 9, where Enver Şimşek was hit by eight bullets. “I asked Enver Şimşek if he could take my place,” said Ali Toy, “because I wanted to go on vacation. I was in Turkey, like every autumn. And so he sold the flowers himself, which I usually get from him. “

Two days later, the father of two, Enver Şimşek, died of serious injuries in the South Hospital in Langwasser. “I found out from my neighbors, who gave me a newspaper clipping and said: ‘Your boss was killed.’ There I was … “, Toy’s voice faltered,” shocked. Enver Şimşek was a good man. “

Toy told the police that he suspected that Enver Şimşek had been killed by a German terrorist group. The investigators ruled out a right-wing extremist background. Only the then Interior Minister Günther Beckstein (CSU), who also lives in Langwasser, pointed out this possibility in a note.

He did not, however, press for this lead to be pursued further. The contact with the German police has always been very good, emphasizes Toy. For the Şimşek family, on the other hand, there were difficult days: the officials showed them the photo of a supposed lover, accused their murdered father of drug trafficking, investigated in the direction of extortion, the special commissions had names with racist connotations such as “Crescent” and “Bosporus”.

Officials suspected relatives

“Without evidence, the murder victims were accused of being involved in a serious criminal environment,” says right-wing extremism expert Birgit Mair and describes an example from Nuremberg: “A witness was shown a film that was made shortly before the attack on Cologne’s Keupstrasse. The woman from Nuremberg then recognized one of the men she had seen shortly before the murder of İsmail Yaşar near the Nuremberg crime scene on Scharrerstrasse. Although the witness said that the men were light-skinned, the investigating officers subsequently only presented her with photos of dark-skinned suspects. “

Mair shares the view of co-prosecutor Seda Başay-Yıldız and Carsten Ilius, who represented victims’ relatives at the NSU trial, that “institutional racism” was a central reason why the series of murders was not stopped. So for the bereaved, shame was added to pain. “For eleven years we weren’t even allowed to be victims with a clear conscience,” said the 34-year-old daughter Semiya Şimşek-Demirtas in 2012 at a memorial event in Berlin.

After Ali Toys boss was murdered, the police regularly patrolled the flower stand to offer him protection, he says. Until the core trio of the NSU was exposed: for ten years. His fear has not disappeared to this day because it is not over yet and there are still many people in the background. When Beate Zschäpe, whom he only calls “this one woman”, was arrested, he was happy. And yet many questions remain. He thinks it is funny that NSU files are kept under lock and key for 30 years. Because the protection of the constitution wants to protect its sources.

“After all, some NSU investigative committees clearly revealed that the neo-Nazi scene was systematically played down by both the investigative authorities and the Office for the Protection of the Constitution,” says Birgit Mair. “Dozens of neo-Nazi informers from the Office for the Protection of the Constitution cavorted around the NSU, police work was hampered by the domestic secret service, which in the case of the NSU crimes was more part of the problem than the solution.”

Memorial plaques damaged at all crime scenes

And she goes even further: “Instead of helping to solve the crimes, various authorities have been and are being shredded and bricked up. Particularly bitter: The constitutional protection authorities continue to work with neo-Nazis and other extreme right-wingers in the form of the informal system. “

In spring 2014 the anti-fascist initiative “Breaking the Silence” was founded with the aim of commemorating the people who were murdered by the right-wing terrorists of the NSU in Nuremberg: Enver Şimşek, Abdurrahim Özüdoğru and İsmail Yaşar. For several years she has also been addressing the NSU’s first bomb attack on the “Sonnenschein” pub, in which the young pub owner Mehmet O. was seriously injured on June 23, 1999 in the southern part of Nuremberg.

“We put up the first memorial plaques in June 2014 as part of a commemorative week,” says Marek Berger from the initiative. “The memorial plaques at all Nuremberg crime scenes were damaged. We had to renew the memorial plaque for Enver Şimşek on Liegnitzer Strasse twice. “

The term “foreigner” for a person who had lived in Germany for 15 years was irritating

Mair points out the uncertainty surrounding the commemoration: “It is commendable that a small stele was erected by local parishes in memory of Enver Şimşek in Liegnitzer Strasse. But this caused a lot of irritation among visitors. The religiously inspired text says, among other things: ‘If a stranger lives with you in your country, you shouldn’t oppress him.’ ”The term“ stranger ”for a person who has lived in Germany for 15 years was particularly irritating.

“The Nazis applauded”

The judgments already passed in the NSU trial are not only appalling to Ali Toy. On the occasion of the written reasons for the verdict in April, 19 lawyers for the accessory prosecution declared the verdict to be a “memorial to the failure of the rule of law that criminalized the relatives of the NSU murder victims for years and has now finally left them in the lurch”. Elif Kubaşık, the widow of Mehmet Kubaşık who was murdered in Dortmund, had already spoken of another slap in the face at the end of the trial.

Nils Hüttinger, street worker in the district where Şimşek was murdered, sees it the same way. “There is nothing worse in victim counseling than: ‘I’m not just passed out, I’m misunderstood.’ Over and over again this setting of hope in something: There are places that listen to me, there is a public that listens to me, maybe justice will be spoken there. And then again no justice is given. “

“What many do not know is that the flower seller and former employee of Mr. Şimşek planted a tree in memory of the murdered man near the former crime scene every year,” said Mair. Ali Toy was born just over 100 kilometers from Şimşek’s birthplace Salur in Turkey. Where there are many flowers. He knows Şimşek’s children from the memorial services. Enver Şimşek’s wife lives again in Turkey, where he was born, says Ali Toy. She no longer wants to be in Germany, where she lost her husband.

Last Saturday, the “Alliance for the Nazi Stop” called for a demonstration at the crime scene in Langwasser under the motto “And we are still calling for clarification”. More than 300 people took part in the commemoration. Abdulkerim Şimşek, the son of Enver Şimşek, said at the rally: “To this day we do not know why our father was killed. It wasn’t a coincidence. And the trial was also a big disappointment. Except for Beate Zschäpe, all of the accused are free. The Nazis applauded when the verdict was pronounced. “