The victim of the February attack is to be commemorated on August 22. The demo will also address the unwillingness to investigate, explains Çetin Gültekin.
taz: Mr. Gültekin, the survivors of the February 19 attack are calling for a demonstration because the police have ignored “warning signals”. What were the warning signs?
Çetin Gültekin: There were many. In the last days before the crime, Tobias Rathjen, my brother’s murderer, uploaded a letter of confession and a hate video on the Internet. The Federal Attorney General (GBA) Peter Frank confirmed in a survey in the Hessian state parliament that the Hanau public prosecutor and the GBA received mail from Rathjen in November 2019. In it, he disclosed his right-wing extremist views. Without consequences. If I fill out two pages with the announcement that I want to kill Germans and send it to the public prosecutor, the police will knock on my door two hours later.
How should Rathjen have reacted?
The authorities didn’t even send policemen to see what that guy was. He could keep his two weapons. If I have the right to shoot 600 rounds of ammunition on the shooting range, why do I have the right to take the gun home where I am not allowed to use it anyway? He had been in the rifle club for years and the gun authority of the Main-Kinzig district extended his gun ownership card after a review in 2019.
With the card he could legally borrow the murder weapon.
Yes. I saw the video of the fact. Gökhan had called me half an hour beforehand and said: “I will order pasta, if you are hungry, I will order something for you.” I said: “I have already eaten, I watch football at home.” Ten seconds before Rathjen came in, he stood at the counter and ate with the two other victims, Mercedes Kierpacz and Ferhat Unvar. In the next second Rathjen shoots him in the heart and he is dead. If I had said yes, I would also be dead.
The bereaved have publicly addressed Rathjen’s mail to the GBA in recent weeks. What were the reactions?
A CDU politician asked us at the round table in Hanau’s town hall whether we knew how much “confused stuff” was received by the authorities every day. What kind of answer is that? I am afraid of the thought that “confused stuff” may be arriving somewhere today and that they therefore know who the next assassin is and that they could stop him, but they cannot do it. When 1,000 such letters arrive, 1,000 senders have to be checked.
Email, video and letter of confession may not have been the only clues – survivors have referred to two incidents from 2017 and 2018. What happened there
At that time a masked man with a combat suit came out of a bush to the youth center in Hanau-Kesselstadt. This is the district we live in, and it is also the second crime scene on February 19. The stranger approached young people with weapons in hand and threatened them. They called the police. She came and questioned the young people – but didn’t create any files.
Did you recognize Rathjen back then?
No, they didn’t know him. And he was hooded. But the police could have guessed. Because Rathjen’s house is only a few meters away from the youth center. And he had been registered as a gun owner.
How have these incidents been linked to Rathjen?
The family of Hamza Kurtović, one of the victims on February 19, drew attention to this. Hamza was one of the young people who were threatened by the unknown at the time. The police came to his home and questioned him as a witness. Hamza’s father was there. The police did not follow up on the statement. The father contacted us. He is convinced that Rathjen was the unknown. Hamza’s father put the pressure on. Only when we were in the state parliament was the BKA commissioned to investigate. It then found out that these statements existed. Without pressure from us, that would simply have been ignored.
What does this mean for you from dealing with the indications of Rathjen’s dangerousness?
If the public prosecutor had taken this seriously, my brother would still be alive. I want everyone who was involved in this failure to be named and held accountable.
was born in Hanau in 1974. The carpenter is the brother of Gökhan Gültekin, one of the victims of the racist murder attack in Hanau on February 19, 2020.
They say the police also failed during the crime. In what way?
It took seven hours at night to tell us the names of the dead. The police is an institution over which we have no control. But it should do its job properly. And anyone who is dangerous and has a weapon must be removed from it, regardless of whether Nazi or Turk or whoever. If German police officers and authorities did their job properly, no open racist would have a gun. That’s what they’re there for. It must ensure the security of everyone, not just the security of the Germans. Interior Minister Peter Beuth said Rathjen was not known to the police. He is still trying to finish everything up and claims that the police did an excellent job. As if we didn’t know anything. He doesn’t have his shop under control and that’s why we want him to go.
They therefore call for a demonstration in Hanau on August 22nd. It is also about dealing with the bereaved during the ongoing investigation. What do you expect from the authorities?
The attack was six months ago and still nothing has happened. The demo is themed “Remembrance, Justice, Education and Consequences”. We do not want to accept that we are not kept up to date and cannot see what is happening. In the end it shouldn’t mean, “Nobody could do anything for it” – and then only the authorities will be protected again. We fear that they will keep the files open for a while and eventually come and say: “Everything is determined” – and bye. We want to put pressure on the interior minister to resign.
How has your family been doing since the murder?
We were not a Turkish family with seven or eight children, Gökhan was my only brother. Everyone will die, that’s what God wanted. If he had died in an accident, I could live with the pain. It would be very different from now, when I always think: he shouldn’t be dead, you could have prevented it. That will never leave me alone. My father was weak, he couldn’t take it and died on March 28th. I had to send his body to Turkey on a cargo plane during the Corona period, I couldn’t even fly. If Gökhan had not been killed, my father would still be alive.
I now have two dead to complain about. My mother got pneumonia during the corona period. She has good memories of Germany. But because her husband died after 55 years and her son was shot shortly before, she can’t take it in her apartment. We had to get out of Kesselstadt, but because of Corona the hotels were closed. We therefore asked the city of Hanau for an apartment.
Did you get it?
No. I then brought my mother to Turkey. She is there with relatives. I fly there on Sunday and we celebrate the sacrifice festival together. Then I bring her back so that she can be part of the demo.
How does the “NSU 2.0” scandal play a role for you?
My lawyer Seda Başay-Yıldız receives emails with death threats and the data was requested from the Wiesbaden police. My son is 26 years old. He is always next to me in public appearances. I’m afraid for him. I have to make sure that my brother gets justice. And at the same time, I have to protect my son’s future. Both are not easy at the same time.
What do you fear specifically?
I am thinking, for example, of sentences like that of AfD parliamentarian Marcel Grauf from Baden-Württemberg, who wrote: “After all, we now have so many foreigners in the country that a Holocaust would be worthwhile again.” coalition with the CDU, I’m afraid that we won’t even have time to pack our bags.