Antigypsy attack near Ulm: more dangerous than the incendiary device

Two men were convicted of trying to set fire to a Roma family’s trailer. The verdict is mild, but the accessory prosecution is nevertheless satisfied.

A handcuffed defendant in the courtroom is now on parole Photo: Stefan Puchner / dpa

KARLSRUHE taz | Nothing is left of the murder allegation against five neo-Nazis, and yet Daniel Strauss, state chairman of the Association of Sinti and Roma, says: The probationary sentences, which at first glance seem mild, have strengthened his confidence in the rule of law. Because as far as he knows, this is the first ever verdict for expelling Sinti or Roma in Germany.

The Ulm regional court has sentenced five young men to suspended sentences of between ten months and one year and four months. They confessed to having thrown a wax torch from a car at night into the warehouse of 18 caravans of a French Roma family who had rented a campsite in the village of Erbach-Dellmensingen. The court followed an appraiser’s assessment that the incendiary device was not life-threatening and dropped the murder charge.

But in essence, the trial was not about the danger of the torch: the court wanted to name and punish the perpetrators’ obviously antiziganistic motives. They had already detonated firecrackers and placed a dead swan in front of the camp. The juvenile criminal division of the Ulm Regional Court therefore found that the young men had committed the crimes for “racist, xenophobic and antigypsy motives”. “They wanted to create a climate of fear and horror in order to drive the Roma family out”. You are convicted in 45 cases of complete coercion.

The defendants did not even attempt to cover up their motives. They showed themselves on cell phone photos with a Nazi salute and Reich flags. Apparently, those around them found nothing unusual about it, as the defendants freely admitted. “If you go to the pictures on the cell phone, you could put something in every second person in the village,” said one of the defendants in the trial. The parents also left their children’s racist SMS messages unchallenged.

Fight prejudice

In juvenile criminal law, it is about bringing about a change in the accused, emphasizes Mehmet Daimagüler, who represented the interests of the victims in the process as a joint plaintiff. He does not believe that imprisonment would make the defendants better people. He therefore remained in his pleading under the demands of the public prosecutor and is now satisfied with the verdict.

After all, in the eyes of the court, one of the defendants credibly broke away from right-wing extremism after the fact. At least in the closing words, all five men regret their act and some of them have already voluntarily paid 5,000 euros for offender-victim compensation. In the end, however, says Daimagüler, one cannot look into the heads of the accused.

What remains is the attempt to clarify. Even before the incident, the regional association of Sinti and Roma, together with the city of Ulm and other partners, planned an advice center in Ulm’s old town. Now the branch of the regional association is to take on another task: political education work to combat prejudice.


Göttingen: fire and flames (

A firefighter extinguishes inside the burning office building.

Photo: dpa / Stefan Rampfel

The Göttingen office is still largely cordoned off. Since there was a fire there almost half a year ago, specialist companies have been busy repairing the damage to the fire. The local police special commission will no longer interfere with their work, and their investigation has recently been terminated. The public prosecutor’s office still believes that a letter of confession published after the crime is authentic, but its originators could not be determined, said a spokesman in the “Göttinger Tageblatt”.

On the morning of November 25 last year, unknown persons lit a fire at the entrance to the building, which houses the Göttingen immigration office, among other things. In the letter subsequently published on Indymedia, this is described as part of a racist system that the authors “no longer wanted to stand by”. The agency’s employees are also to be made “personally” responsible for their actions.

Politicians and administrators then launched an unprecedented campaign. Police chief Lührig immediately spoke of “leftist terrorism”. At a rally by the city’s administrative staff, the Social Democratic Mayor Köhler demanded: »Zero tolerance for extremists. Regardless of whether from the right or the left. ”He blatantly equated the arson at night with attacks on refugee accommodation. “Ultimately, we are all affected,” he said, both leveling and factually imprecise. Joachim Rogge, head of the Göttingen immigration office, reported that his colleagues have been “afraid for health and life” since the fire. The immigration office was “on such a good path to a genuine welcome culture for our foreign customers”.

Left groups intervened in this discourse with a statement published in early April. In it, they oppose “the self-staging of the immigration authority as the ‘service authority’ prevailing in the debate and the equation of the arson attack with neo-Nazis murdering fascist terror”. The letter said that harassment and measures against refugees seeking help had increased after the fire. The undersigned, including Antifa groups and the local branch of the Goettingen Left, also note that those who really need to be afraid for health and life. They refer to the case of the refugee Gani Rama, who was beaten to death in Kosovo last summer. He was deported there from Göttingen two months earlier.

According to the city of Göttingen, the refurbishment of the office building could take up to three years. The immigration office, as well as the job center, which is also located in the building, as well as the statistics and elections specialist service, have since moved. Immediately after the fire, the agency’s work was significantly impaired. The execution of deportations was suspended until the new year, refugee support groups told “new Germany”. At the same time, many of those affected were unsettled by the situation. “Overall, this was not an advantage for our foreign citizens in Göttingen,” says Claire Deery, Göttingen specialist lawyer for migration law. The chairwoman of the Lower Saxony Refugee Council also complained that a fire caused a project by her association in Göttingen to fail.

It can be argued whether the arson was “effective resistance” as it was formulated in the letter of confession at the time. In any case, work in the immigration office is now back to normal. It is arguably less controversial for many that there can be no question of a “welcome culture”.