Oktoberfest attack: 1.2 million euros for the victims – Munich

When you ask Renate Martinez these days whether someone has already contacted her about compensation from the state, she sighs audibly and a little bitterly. “Hopefully I’ll see it again,” she says with a touch of gallows humor.

As a young woman, Renate Martinez was seriously injured in the legs in the Oktoberfest attack on September 26, 1980 by the bomb of the right-wing extremist assassin Gundolf Köhler. Today she can only walk with difficulty on the rollator. Until recently, she did not really believe that after 40 years the state would still pull itself together to help the injured and victims of the Oktoberfest attack financially. Nice words, she said, nothing else.

Renate Martinez was wrong. She will receive a letter from Mayor Dieter Reiter in the next few weeks, announcing that the federal government, the state and the city now want to help her and the other more than 200 people injured in the attack. After months of negotiations, the federal government, the state of Bavaria and the city of Munich have agreed to set up a fund of 1.2 million euros from which the victims of the attack will receive unbureaucratic help. The federal government is paying € 500,000, Bavaria € 500,000, and the city of Munich € 200,000. A full four decades after the fact.

It should be noted in the words of Federal Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht, the Bavarian Social Minister Carolina Trautner and OB Reiter how urgently they consider this help to be – and how little they can understand that it took so long for this help to reach the victims . “A late, but nevertheless important sign of solidarity with those affected by this devastating attack,” said Justice Minister Lambrecht. And Reiter says: “Even if we cannot undo the suffering and painful memories of the survivors, this joint fund of the federal government, the Free State and the city shows – albeit much too late – that all political levels are willing to give the people this To give incredibly cruel right-wing terrorist attacks the attention and financial support they have long deserved. ” Long earned, much too late – these are characteristic words that suggest how much the state is behind in recognizing the victims.

Investigations were restarted – and only concluded in the summer

The city of Munich has given 100,000 euros in recent years. But the federal and state governments have been waiting for the assessment of the federal prosecutor’s office in Karlsruhe. The had resumed the investigation into the Oktoberfest attack in December 2014 and only now, in summer 2020, completed. Although it did not find anyone behind the attack, it turned the assessment of the act 180 degrees. Up until now, the assassination was considered an act of a lovesick young man, but not a right-wing terror. The fact that Gundolf Köhler trained with the right-wing extremist military sports group Hoffmann and had a picture of Hitler hanging over the bed was not taken by the investigators in 1980 as evidence of a political motive. The Federal Prosecutor’s Office sees it differently today: For them, the attack is clearly right-wing terror. Köhler wanted to influence the federal election ten days later, in which Franz Josef Strauss (CSU) ran against Chancellor Helmut Schmidt (SPD).

This new assessment is important for the victims. Because only it allows the authorities to fall back on the victim fund for victims of terrorism. It was only she who made the agreement between the federal government, the Free State and the city possible. The city of Munich will now organize the distribution of the money. And the mayor expressly wants it to be unbureaucratic. Nobody should have to beg for their money. So no more lengthy reports on the physical damage and its long-term consequences – because they are obvious after 40 years. No delay in paying out, because many of those affected are now of retirement age, their complaints are not getting any easier and they are not getting younger. Not all of the 211 people who survived the attack were injured are already living. The city of Munich still knows around 170 survivors. And they are now being written to.

In addition, there should be fixed contact persons for the victims so that they are not passed on from office to office. And the severity of the injuries should also play a role in the payment. There will be a phased procedure for this. Victim attorney Werner Dietrich had asked for something similar, but on a different financial scale.

The fund still has to go through the vote in the Bundestag, but, it is said in Berlin, one cannot imagine anyone voting against it. The city council in Munich still has to agree. But there shouldn’t be any resistance either. The money could be paid out from early 2021.

In a joint declaration on Wednesday, the federal government, the state and the city made it clear how important it is to them not to leave the victims alone. “We want to support the people who are still suffering from the consequences of the attack today. The state must be more there for those affected by right-wing extremism, racism and human hatred,” said Federal Justice Minister Lambrecht (SPD). Bavaria’s Minister of Social Affairs Trautner (CSU) said: “The Free State is taking a stand against right-wing extremism and is on the side of those affected, to whom our solidarity and our sympathy go.”

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