Synagogue assassination process: The defendant’s grin

On the second day of the trial against the Halle assassin, the victim lawyers have the floor. The accused wants to continue using the trial as a stage.

On the second day of the trial in front of the Magdeburg District Court. Victims and relatives still have a lot to do Photo: Hendrik Schmidt / dpa

MAGDEBURG taz | The second day of the trial for the right-wing extremist attack by Halle in the Magdeburg Regional Court begins punctually. After the open questions of judge Ursula Mertens gave the accused a lot of room to present his ideology on the first day of the trial, the questioning by the federal prosecutor and the 24 designated victim attorneys is scheduled for the second day of the trial.

First, the video is shown with which the perpetrator broadcast his actions on the Internet. It shows how he tried to get access to the synagogue in Halle on October 9th last year during the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur. When this failed, he shot passer-by Jana L. and kebab snack customer Kevin S. Several people were injured.

Some co-plaintiffs: inside the eyes close, some cry, others leave the room. “I would like to draw attention to the accused’s grin,” says one of the lawyers. The victims wish that the perpetrator is not given a stage in the media. Because that is his goal – with the video and the process.

Despite the video documentation, the victims and the federal prosecutor have many questions. Was it the intention that the offender hit a black man while fleeing? What about the attack on a couple who didn’t want to hand over their car to him? How did he radicalize? The co-plaintiffs want the crime to be placed in a context and explained how it got this far.

The accused wants to protect “his people”

Until 2015, he was “not so political” himself, the accused says. And even after that, he hardly spoke to people in real life about politics. In his family, he said nothing about racism and anti-Semitism. On the other hand, this is different. He did not want to say where exactly he had radicalized there in order to protect “his people”.

The victims’ lawyers Kristin Pietrzyk and Alexander Hoffmann insist that the accused answer their questions specifically. They do not want to give him room to put forward his crude theories. At the same time, Hoffmann tries to expose them: “When did a foreigner take your job away? You didn’t get the job you dreamed of, ”he asks. He says: “You didn’t do anything useful, but instead you say that foreigners take your jobs away.” The accused refuses to answer the lawyers’ questions.

Even before the victim lawyers ask questions in the afternoon, the defense questioned the accused. Unlike the previous day, the latter now claims that he did not know whether there were people in the synagogue. When Pietrzyk points this out, the defense makes an application to record the perpetrator’s statements.

Shortly after one, Judge Mertens announced the rejection of the application: “It is not the wording that matters, but the meaning of the application in the context of the accused’s testimony,” it says. None of this leaves any doubt about an intentional right-wing extremist terrorist attack. After the attack on the synagogue, he intended to attack a Muslim center or “other places”. The only thing that prevented him from doing this was the car tire that had been shot.

Firm ideologically

The accused admitted that the original plan was to attack a mosque later in the day. He laughs, cheerfully describes his actions, disguises his voice, jokes, lawyers: interrupts. He asks personal counter-questions and speaks of a struggle against Jews and Muslims. Was this over now? No comment.

The trial day is tough. The court is working on the ideological motivation of the perpetrator, the reconstruction of the crime and its preparation, a possible confidant: within the parents and details of the weapons they have built themselves. And it’s about the bigger question that Federal Attorney Lohse asked the perpetrator during the day as follows: “You will die one day. I will die one day. All who are here will die one day. Doesn’t it follow that we are all the same regardless of religion and skin color? “

The second day of the trial proves that such an admission cannot be expected from the ideologically established perpetrator. But it is precisely this question that the majority of those present want to reverberate.

Editor’s note: At the taz editorial conference on Wednesday, the question of whether the name of the perpetrator should be mentioned was discussed for a long time. Some argued for, others against the attribution. Some authors have named the perpetrator in their texts, and the author has not included this text. Something has started to move. The editorial team will consult with experts and those affected to find a general line for taz.


Reporting on the Halle trial: the perpetrator’s stage

The process against the assassin is accompanied by many media. The perpetrator wants iconization – and many journalists help with it.

Process observers and journalists on the first day of the trial before the Magdeburg Regional Court Photo: Sebastian Willnow / dpa

He can be seen everywhere: his name is immortalized on news pages, his photo printed in daily newspapers. The trial of the extreme right-wing assassin from Halle began in the regional court in Magdeburg on Tuesday, and the media interest was huge. Due to the large number of people, the process could only start two hours later than planned. And already after the first day of the trial, many media helped to iconize the perpetrator.

The 28-year-old German, driven by anti-Semitism, racism and hatred of women, tried to storm a synagogue in Halle on the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur in October 2019. When he doesn’t succeed, he shoots Jana L. on the street and Kevin S. in the nearby “Kiez Döner”. He injured other people while fleeing the police. He now has to answer for these acts in court.

Journalistically, it is a challenge to report on the actions of right-wing extremists: journalists: must provide the public with extensive information, but must not give the perpetrator too much space. You need to shed light on the terrorist worldview to understand the danger of right-wing terrorism, but should not fall into the trap of reproducing its propaganda. You should focus on those affected, speak to them, listen to them, but not press them. And despite broad coverage, do not promote the potential of imitators.

Even after the assassination, it is not so good: different media, like the one image and the ARD, released sequences of the video in which the perpetrator broadcast his attack live on the Internet. Those affected criticize the press’s actions today; they feel pressured. Instead of writing about how deeply racist ideologies and right-wing structures are anchored in our society, much was about the myth of the individual.

Full name and unpixed images

To improve coverage of the trial, there was a demo outside the courthouse on Tuesday. The demonstrators demanded: “Solidarity with those affected – no stage for the perpetrator”. Because the right-wing extremist was looking for this, it became clear even before he entered the room. His lawyer announced that the perpetrator would like to be shown with his full name and non-pixelated images. And the German media world? She followed his request – despite the request of the co-plaintiffs: to renounce the name and picture.

Most of the reports about the start of the process are otherwise completely offender-centered, in addition to the naming. They reflect the thoughts and words, the perspective of a neo-Nazi. The 28-year-old spoke for hours in the Magdeburg trial, and expressed his racist, Islam and anti-Jewish views. And some of these statements can now be read literally for the public.

For example, at Spiegel the perpetrator’s white supremacy ideology is quoted in the title and his racist statements, including discriminatory terms such as the N-word, are cited. It did the same image. Of the Daily mirror, Time Online, Focus Online and the New York Times did not reproduce this word, but gave the perpetrator’s ideas of a “population exchange”, his agitation against Muslims: Jews, Jews and notwhite People space.

The MDR wants to do better

Of course, it is necessary to write about the ideology of the extreme right, but it is the job of journalists: to write about racism, anti-Semitism and anti-feminism without reproducing isms themselves. Above all, it is dangerous – and terrorism experts agree – because there is a risk of imitation if the media focus too much on the perpetrator.

In addition, some media play down the perpetrator if they view his worldview as “crude” (Weser-Kurirer, MoPo, Schwäbische Zeitung) rewrite instead of clearly calling them right-wing extremists. Others even take the perpetrator’s perspective in their reporting, such as ntv or SWR, when they speak of “hatred of foreigners” as a motive. Because the people whom the neo-Nazi wanted to kill in October are not foreigners: inside, they read them as such because they are Jewish or notWhite are because they have a history of migration.

The MDR now wants to do better. In the coverage of the trial on Wednesday, the broadcaster announced that it would no longer want to give the perpetrator a stage and therefore decided not to mention the name of the accused. There are still a few process days to go before the process ends in October. It would be desirable for other media companies to rethink their previous strategy at this time.

Editor’s note: At the taz editorial conference on Wednesday, the question of whether the name of the perpetrator should be mentioned was discussed for a long time. Some argued for, others against the attribution. Some authors have named the perpetrator in their texts, and the author has not included this text. Something has started to move. The editorial team will consult with experts and those affected, in order to find a general line for taz.


Assassination attempt in Munich 2016: monument with wrong inscription

The assassination attempt from the Olympia shopping center in Munich is celebrated for the fourth time on Wednesday. There is still no adequate memory.

Permanent memorial to the victims of the attack on and in the Olympic shopping center Photo: image

MUNICH taz | Small picture frames with photos of the dead stand on the floor of the monument. Next to it are pink plastic flowers and a self-made sign: “Rest in Peace”. People come here to the memorial at the Olympic shopping center in Munich to commemorate. They commemorate those who were killed in the 2016 assassination attempt at this location.

The memorial consists of several parts: a ginkgo tree and photos of the nine casualties held together by a massive ring. “In memory of all victims of the killing spree on July 22, 2016” is written on it. “It’s a misnomer,” says Hassan Leyla. And his wife Sibel Leyla says: “This writing has to go.”

Sibel and Hassan Leyla are the parents of Can. The 14-year-old boy was murdered in the attack four years ago. Together with other victim families, the Leyla couple are committed to changing the memorial at the Olympia shopping center. Because the term “killing spree” is not correct. For good reason, the investigators of the State Criminal Police Office in Bavaria classified the crime as an extreme right-wing attack after a long back and forth in 2019.

The Leyla couple also found out how difficult the authorities are in recognizing it as a politically motivated act today when the monument was renamed. The city of Munich announced at the end of June that the inscription should now be changed to “In memory of all victims of the racist attack of July 22, 2016”. The way to the renaming was a long struggle for the families.

Monument to everything

“They really did everything so that they heard from us: Okay, leave it,” says Hassan Leyla. “If we had done that, they would have been one hundred percent very satisfied.” The aim of the city of Munich was simply “not to change that.” And so the memorial now reminds not only of the terrible assassination attempt, but also of the way the city deals with the relatives of the deceased, the question of whom monuments are actually intended for, and the sometimes difficult recognition of extreme right-wing violence in Germany. Seven of the nine casualties were Muslim, one was a Rome and one was a Sinto.

After the crime in July 2016, the Bavarian state authorities initially excluded a political background and only spoke of an allegedly apolitical rampage. “So far, many people we know think it was a killing spree,” says Hassan Leyla. “It is clear: there is a rampage on the memorial and from the first day until now there has only been talk of amok.”

Hassan and Sibel Leyla

Hassan and Sibel Leyla lost their son Can in the racist attack in the OEZ Photo: Laurenz Schreiner

Shortly after the fact, there was evidence of an extreme right-wing motive: The then 18-year-old perpetrator David S. targeted people from immigrant families. A video of the fact shows how he calls “shit turks”. He chose the fifth anniversary of the attacks by Norwegian right-wing extremist Anders Breivik. On the “Steam” gaming platform, S. had contact with other right-wing extremists in the “Anti-Refugee Club” chat group, including the right-wing American William Atchison, who shot himself and two people in an attack in New Mexico in 2017. “I just have to add up one plus one,” says Claudia Neher. The lawyer represented four families in the lawsuit against the arms dealer who had sold the murder weapon to S. The arms dealer is also a racist and a staunch supporter of Hitler, and the court spoke of a “disgusting attitude”.

Label not correct

Neher makes great accusations to the investigative authorities. “In the beginning it was an absolute misjudgment,” says the lawyer. “We cannot have a hundred NSU committees of inquiry and learn nothing from it.” Together with her relatives, she had to fight for the fact that the act was recognized as right-wing extremists. The City of Munich has also commissioned three expert opinions, in which the political background to the crime is clear and which have contributed significantly to the fact that the crime is now clearly recognized as being motivated by the right.

On the one hand, there is one of the worst extreme right-wing acts of violence in Germany since the end of the Second World War. On the other hand, there is a commemoration that does not reflect the correct name even at the site of the official monument – not even on the fourth anniversary of the attack on Wednesday. Hassan Leyla can not believe it: “At last you should be able to read what happened and nothing more! Wouldn’t it bother you if it said: Traffic accident? “

Sibel Leyla explains why she thinks the monument is so important to society. “We need the truth to learn.” Her husband says, “My son won’t come back if this scripture is changed. That doesn’t make my pain any less. ”But it could very well be a sign:“ Today it caught me, tomorrow it can catch another. Because these cases are increasing instead of decreasing in Germany. Because nothing is done about it, ”says Leyla. Instead, right-wing terrorist attacks would continue to be played down as apolitical amoctats.

What is preventing Munich?

But why does the city of Munich find it so difficult to name the act on the memorial as what it was? What is preventing them from becoming active? An application for renaming, which the city’s migration advisory board made to the mayor and the cultural department at the beginning of December 2019 and which was submitted to the taz, as well as further discussions with relatives, attested to the city’s hesitant approach. In autumn 2018, seven out of nine affected families asked to be renamed. Two families did not want to deal with it, but did not speak out against it. The responsible cultural department in Munich invited to an initial discussion in March 2019. The responsible speaker is said to have been little cooperative. She is said to have said that the families wanted to “destroy” and “politicize” the monument.

“It was tough and hurtful to the relatives,” says lawyer Claudia Neher. Sibel Leyla didn’t feel taken seriously either. “It was obvious that you didn’t want to face the truth. You keep distracting yourself from the subject or downplaying it – you pretend that it is impossible to change something on the memorial, ”she says. The families were not interested in a special design. “We wanted a subtle little intervention, that’s a small goal,” says Claudia Neher. “Paint over, 3D print, cross out and write over it – we would agree with everything.”

At the meeting in March 2019, the families expressed a wish to change the inscription by the third anniversary in July 2019. Whereby “wish” for Hassan Leyla is not the right expression: “They should not work according to our wishes, but according to the facts.” However, there was no initiative by the cultural department to rename it. The renaming did not work until the anniversary in July 2019, in November 2019 the authority invited to a next meeting with the families. “Nothing happened for eight months,” criticizes Claudia Neher. And then only the existing decision was repeated at the second meeting.

“For you”

Sibel Leyla had already said in the meantime: “If it is not changed by July 22, 2020, I want to somehow have my son’s photo of the memorial removed.” In addition, the families have considered whether a renaming might be enforced in court – for a memorial that bears the name “For you”. After the migration advisory board supported the affected families’ project and made their own application for a name change, it took another six months for the city to make a public commitment. In the autumn of this year, the inscription is now to be changed.

The cultural department of the city of Munich sees no mistakes in dealing with the monument and the relatives of the victims. On the contrary, at the request of the taz, the spokeswoman emphasized his “sensitive and consensus-oriented moderation”, which had made it possible for all families to reach an agreement. “The focus was and still is on the victims to be remembered, as well as the concerns of their relatives,” says the press release on renaming.

But why did it take so long? “A joint process can only take place at the speed that gives all relatives the same chance to get involved adequately,” replies the cultural department. At the request of the taz, the cultural department does not allow inspection of files in order to be able to understand the temporal processes within the authority.

On a Friday afternoon in early July, people keep walking past the monument on the way to the shopping center, the subway, the Saturn market or McDonald’s. A couple with a stroller pauses briefly, pauses and looks at the photos of the victims. “Ah blatant. 2016. It was a long time ago, ”says the woman. Then she pushes the stroller on.


Process of attack in Halle: The Fanal

Stephan Balliet tried to storm the Halle synagogue nine months ago and killed two people. Now the process started.

Stephan Balliet in the Magdeburg District Court Photo: Photo: Image

MAGDEBURG taz | There are six rows of chairs that the co-plaintiffs fill in room C24 of the Magdeburg Regional Court. 43 affected people who are now looking at Stephan Balliet on Tuesday afternoon. On the extreme right, who wanted to kill her nine months ago, on October 9, 2019 in Halle.

Stephan Balliet had planned a massacre in the Halle synagogue. Some of the 52 believers who were celebrating Yom Kippur, the highest Jewish holiday in the prayer house during the attack, are sitting in the courtroom. In addition, people whom the assassin shot in the nearby Kiezdöner or on the street, some of whom were seriously injured and who were only saved from weapons loading. And family members of Jana L. and Kevin S., who actually shot Balliet.

Some wear kippas, sit close together, give each other strength. Others sat next to their lawyers, 21 victim lawyers are on site. And some attended a rally of a left-wing initiative before the court before the trial started. Christina Feist, a young philosophy doctor who was at the synagogue during the attack, scourges anti-Semitism in this country. This has not been addressed for decades. The “never again” became “empty words”.

And now they are all staring at Stephan Balliet, who is led into the hall by masked police officers with hand and foot cuffs. He starts to spread his hatred again. “The Jews are the main cause of white genocide,” he says in court. Handles out to Muslims who would “conquer” Germany. Complains that you can no longer express yourself freely in Germany. It is hardly bearable for the co-plaintiffs, they persecute it consternated.

Balliet’s act had caused an hour of emergency in Halle. And she also aimed at imitators: Balliet broadcast his assassination live on the Internet. The trial against Balliet began on Tuesday in the Magdeburg regional court, in the largest courtroom in Saxony-Anhalt. A process that is the focus of international attention.

A loner who lived with his mother

That is already visible at dawn. Already there, visitors and journalists gather in front of the court. You have to go through several security checkpoints to get to the strictly guarded room C24. Some wait for hours in the sun. The process does not begin until around two hours late. An organizational slump for the court.

After the co-plaintiffs first sat down in the room, Stephan Balliet, the accused, was introduced. Previously, he was flown in from the JVA Castle by helicopter. A 28-year-old unemployed, a loner who has lived with his mother in Benndorf for the past seven years, 40 kilometers from Halle.

Now Balliet Bald is wearing a black jacket and jeans, as in the crime video. He stares motionless into the hall, not hiding his face. Three officers remain behind him all the time. Balliet also has to leave the ankle cuffs on the dock – because he wanted to escape from the prison at the end of May, climbed over a wall, but then failed. Now he makes it clear that, like with his crime video, he also wants to use the courtroom as a stage. “I would make a statement,” he announces, his voice rough.

Before that, the charges against the 28-year-old are read out. The allegation is double murder and 68 attempted murder. Federal attorney Kai Lohse reconstructs how Balliet passed through Halle on October 9, 2019, how he wanted to kill as many people as possible. Out of deep hatred of Jews and Muslims. Balliet follows it without moving.

But then he speaks for hours all afternoon. He freely answers questions from judge Ursula Mertens, without any intervention from his two defenders. He only answers a few questions with a malicious laugh. And he’s always looking for provocation.

Mertens initially looks into his childhood, to which Balliet does not want to say anything at first. “It has nothing to do with the deed,” he says. But Mertens remains persistent. Balliet then says that his parents separated when he was a teenager. That he was teased at school. How he studied chemistry but broke off because of an illness. And the plans afterwards? “I didn’t have any more.”

But Balliet points to 2015, when tens of thousands of refugees sought protection in Germany. A “conquest” for the right-wing extremist. Already there he got a gun. Mertens asks if he even heard anything from the refugees in the small village of Bennd. He claims he was turned on repeatedly. And then pulls over Arabs and blacks. Mertens has to interrupt him again and again: she will not tolerate inhuman statements, otherwise she will have to refer him to the hall.

Balliet names the Christchurch attack in New Zealand as the initial spark

Balliet calls the Christchurch attack in New Zealand, in which a right-wing extremist killed 52 people in two mosques, as the initial spark. His admiration at the time: “A white man fights back, he takes it into his own hands.” He then began to build weapons, seven rifles and explosives, and spied on the synagogue in Halle. Why not a mosque, asks Mertens? Because it’s about the causes, not the symptoms, says Balliet.

Mertens always has to slow down Balliet’s agitation. Then the accused describes his attack on the synagogue, how he drove up there with his rental car and failed on the locked door and wall. “I made a fool of myself.” Why didn’t he have a ladder with him, asks Mertens. “Good question,” replies Balliet. But if he had crashed there with his weapons, “it would have been even more ridiculous.”

And why did he shoot Jana L., who had passed him before and unsuspectingly asked what this was about? “A short circuit reaction.” A murder “for safety”. Mertens reacts blankly to the cold answer, asks him for pity. Balliet stops short. He regrets the murder, he says. Because Jana L. is also a white woman.

He thought Kevin S. was a Muslim

On the day of the deed, however, Balliet got back in his car and discovered the nearby neighborhood doner. He also shot in there and killed Kevin S., who was having lunch and was still hiding behind a refrigerator. In Doner takeaways only people who had no problem with Muslims, Balliet is cold here too. And bluntly blames his victims: the guests could have “capped” him when his weapons stopped. He thought Kevin S. was a Muslim because of the “black, frizzy hair”. When he found out during the interrogation that this was not the case, he was “hit hard”. Kevin S.’s death is unfortunate because he is also “a white man”. Balliet then fled further and was only arrested after an accident on a country road in front of Halle.

Balliet’s lecture is one with no regrets about his plot. He speaks about the victims without any empathy. Elongated he only complains about what failed in his attempt. The co-plaintiffs pursue it with their hands in front of their faces, with disbelieving murmurs, others leave the room in between.

Balliet had already appeared unspoken in his interrogations. And he now makes it clear again what he already wrote in a kind of manifesto before the fact: that he sees himself as part of a “white” fight against an alleged population exchange by Muslims and migrants. Balliet claims that there is no peaceful path against a multicultural state. In addition to Christchurch, he also describes the right-wing extremist who attacked a mosque in Oslo in August 2019 as a “white warrior”. That’s why, says Balliet, he also filmed the act. “To show others that they are not alone. That they are ready to fight. “

The co-plaintiffs do not believe in an isolated individual. Several said they wanted to uncover this “myth” in a statement before the trial started. “We have to fearlessly counter the ideologies that lead to the barbarism that we have experienced in Halle and all those who glorify such violence in Germany and abroad.”

Had the 28-year-old really radicalized unnoticed? Did Balliet leave no warning signs on the Internet? Couldn’t the security authorities really have stopped him?

For the investigators, Balliet had radicalized on her own, they did not come across confidants, according to her own information, Balliet has never attended political events. But the right-wing extremist was not alone: ​​he spent his time on image boards, anonymous online forums. In a scene that celebrates right-wing extremist attacks there.

Was the 28-year-old acting in delusion? The prosecutors deny this; Balliet is fully responsible for them. An expert attested that he had a personality disorder. However, he was aware of the injustice of his actions. And: It is also likely that Balliet will commit the most serious crimes in the future. In addition to life imprisonment, preventive detention is also an option for the accused.

Ismet Tekin wouldn’t mind. He is the operator of the Kiezdöner, he also sits in court on Tuesday. When Balliet murdered in his snack bar, Tekin was at the door, caught in the hail of bullets with which the assassin shot the police. His hope, says Tekin, is that the perpetrator “will be punished so that no one ever thinks about it again”.


SPD politicians on dealing with NSU 2.0: “The Greens nod everything”

Günter Rudolph criticizes Hessen’s interior minister for dealing with extreme right-wing threatening emails. The Greens are also jointly responsible.

About Peter Beuth and the Hessian police: Not much is added to this from the Greens Photo: Arne Dedert / dpa

taz: Mr. Rudolph, two years ago there was the first NSU 2.0 threatening letter to Frankfurt lawyer Seda Başay-Yıldız. There are now further threatening emails, among others to Janine Wissler and the cabaret artist Idil Baydar. Why is it still unclear who did this?

Günter Rudolph: This has been the central question for almost two years. There is no conclusive explanation of why the police and prosecutors are unable to pin down the perpetrator.

Who is to blame?

The Interior Minister is politically responsible. Mr. Beuth has been reducing the risk from the right for years and has rejected the assumption that there may be right-wing extremist cells or even networks in the Hessian police. So far, these were all isolated cases that had nothing to do with each other.

Is there a right network in the Hessian police?

It can no longer be ruled out that there are right-wing extremists in the ranks of the police who are networked with one another. Because there is a temporal connection between certain data queries in the police information system and the appearance of threatening letters. Clarifying this is the task of the Interior Minister. This failed Mr. Beuth. Instead, we are witnessing a public struggle between the Minister and his State Criminal Police Office and his Chief of Police. Beuth fired him because he supposedly didn’t inform him. That doesn’t seem very credible to me. In any case, the result is chaos in the police leadership.

Beuth has now appointed a special investigator. Is that enough?

No. The special investigator comes from the police hierarchy. It would have made more sense to name a person outside the Hessian police. In addition, the prosecutor has emphasized that it will continue to investigate. So it is unclear what competencies the special investigator has at all. The SPD has long called for an independent police officer, a kind of contact point for whistleblowers. The Hessian police need a new leadership culture in which officials are encouraged not to look away.

The SPD deputy is chairman of the NSU investigation committee in the Hessian state parliament.

How do the Hessian Greens behave?

They are silent. And if they do say something, then hardly anything critical. The latest idea from Mr. Beuth is to transfer the management of the LKA to a political official who the minister can recall at any time. The LKA should be put on a leash politically. You don’t hear a critical word about this from the Greens either. The Greens nod everything that comes from Beuth. You are therefore also liable for its errors.

The green parliamentary group leader Matthias Wagner, however, called for structural changes a few days ago …

… but wants a “fresh start” with Mr. Beuth. He didn’t say how to do that. Beuth is responsible for ensuring that nothing has happened for two years.

What do you expect from the special meeting of the interior committee on Tuesday?

The SPD and left faction have submitted 37 detailed questions about the threatening letter affair. If Minister Beuth insists again that he is unfortunately not allowed to say anything so as not to jeopardize the success of the public prosecutor’s investigation, we will not be offered that. We finally need results. Right-wing extremists continue to threaten innocent people. If Beuth is unable to find the originator of these threatening letters, then he is the wrong person on the job. Then he has to resign.


Hesse’s Greens and the threatening letters: Quiet and flexible

It is surprisingly quiet around the Greens in Hesse. The party apparently does not want to spoil the coalition partner. That could take revenge.

Pretty flexible, pretty green Foto: Jonathan Knowles/getty

A right-wing extremist group of police officers uses secret information to frighten left-wing politicians, a cabaret artist and a lawyer with death threats. Not once, but for two years. The CDU Interior Minister Peter Beuth is unable to clarify these acts. In return, he assures that it can only be an isolated case.

An astonishing finding given the fact that three different police computers were used to carry out the death threats. This is actually a plot for a “crime scene” or for a conspiracy story in which a deep state is up to mischief. But that’s not fiction, it happens in Frankfurt and Wiesbaden. It is no small thing. If the police do not protect the security of the citizens, but threaten them, then something is fundamentally wrong.

CDU Minister Beuth is responsible. Apparently, even after the murder of Walter Lübcke, he stuck to the political misjudgment that extreme right-wing terrorism can only be isolated cases. Beuth lacks some things, but not lacks self-confidence. He sees mistakes in others. He fired the police chief and would also like to put the LKA boss in front of the door. The usual mixture of hubris, lack of judgment and technical mistakes.

It is remarkable what the Greens in Hesse have to say about all of this: not much. In any case, there is no criticism of the famous interior minister. Noise-free governance with the CDU goes above and beyond the Greens in Wiesbaden – including their own principles.

This elasticity was already evident in 2014, when the green parliamentary group preferred to abstain from setting up the NSU committee of inquiry – with due regard to Volker Bouffier, who, as Minister of the Interior, played a questionable role in solving the NSU murders in Kassel. The Greens like to claim higher morale for themselves. In Wiesbaden you can see where this moral claim ends – exactly where the tactics begin. Because the coalition peace goes above everything.

If this affair is not a reason for a coalition fight, which one? The Greens will still have to learn what the SPD had to grasp painfully after Agenda 2010: it avenges itself to dispose of its own values ​​because of short-term advantages. Hessen is the experimental field and the blueprint for black and green in the federal government in 2021. That is the only positive effect of this affair in Wiesbaden. You can now see how the Greens will rule in Berlin with the Union. Inconspicuous, quiet, flexible.


Process start in Halle: So many questions

The trial of the perpetrator begins on Tuesday nine months after the attack in Halle. Those affected ask for lasting consequences.

Christina Feist was in the synagogue during the attack in Halle on October 9, 2019 Photo: Jens Schlueter / getty

BERLIN HALL taz | Christina Feist will take a seat in Hall C24 of the Magdeburg Regional Court. Then the philosophy doctorate Stephan Balliet will look into the eyes, very deliberately. “I want to show him that he failed,” says Feist. “That I’m still alive. That I’m definitely not going to give up. ”

It was nine months ago that Stephan Balliet wanted to kill Christina Feist. Heavily armed, the right-wing extremist drove to the synagogue in Halle on October 9, 2019 to cause a massacre. Feist and 51 other believers were celebrating Yom Kippur, the highest Jewish holiday. Balliet’s attack failed. But the 28-year-old killed two other people: Jana L. and Kevin S.

As of Tuesday, this will now be heard in the Magdeburg district court. Christina Feist will participate in the trial as a co-plaintiff – as will about 50 other victims of the attack. Around 100 visitors and journalists will follow him behind a glass wall, a dimension that is reminiscent of the NSU process. Christina Feist will come from Paris, where the Viennese-born girl is now studying. “I would like answers. There are so many unanswered questions, ”says the 29-year-old with the blonde curly hair. “But if I’m honest, I don’t expect anything anymore. I am deeply disappointed with what has happened in the past few months. ”

At the time of the attack, Feist was still living in Berlin, and from there traveled with other believers to Halle to celebrate Yom Kippur beyond the hustle and bustle of the big city. Then Stephan Balliet drove a rental car in front of the synagogue, with eight firearms, several explosive devices and a camera on the helmet. He broadcast his deed live on the Internet. Balliet failed at the synagogue door, despite shelling and throwing grenades.

Double murder, 68 attempted murder

Christina Feist heard the gunshots and saw smoke rising. The believers remained calm, some watched the attack via a surveillance camera. They were stuck for hours in the dark. Feist barricaded the two back doors with a man. “I just worked,” she says.

Balliet had already given up getting into the synagogue. He shot the passer-by Jana L., who, without realizing the seriousness of the situation, asked him: “Must that be if I walk here?” The 40-year-old died at the scene. Balliet then got back into his car and discovered the nearby neighborhood doner. “Doner? Take wa, ”he said in the video. Then he shot a guest there, Kevin S., a 20-year-old painter and football fan who had just had lunch there and was still trying to hide behind a refrigerator.

Balliet also aimed at passers-by who wanted to help Jana L. or happened to come by, at other guests in the neighborhood. In some cases, only the inhibitions of loading the self-made weapons saved their lives. When Balliet tried to extort a new getaway car from a couple in Wiedersdorf near Halle, he shot the man in the neck and the woman in the thigh. A little later he was arrested on a country road 60 kilometers from Halle after an accident. The indictment accuses Balliet of killing twice and attempting to kill 68 times.

Many of these victims will be there as co-plaintiffs in Magdeburg. And they have questions, even if a lot is clear from the crime video. Christina Feist wants to know: did Balliet really radicalize unnoticed? Why couldn’t the police stop him from attacking him for so long? And why did the officials apparently neither know that Yom Kippur was celebrated in the synagogue nor how to deal with the faithful? “Dealing with us who were just traumatized was catastrophically insensitive,” criticizes Feist. Since the believers traditionally had nothing on Yom Kippur’s fasting day with them, they were unable to identify themselves to the police – and, according to Feist, encountered complete lack of understanding. For them, the anti-Semitism problem “starts with the fact that officials are so untrained in the subject of Judaism”.

Hatred of Jews and Racism

According to the investigators, Stephan Balliet came from nowhere. He had no criminal record and, according to his own information, never attended a political event. He was a loner even at school, his parents separated early. He graduated from high school, did basic military service and began studying chemistry, which he quit due to illness. For the past seven years he had been unemployed in Benndorf, 40 kilometers from Halle, in a room with his mother, who paid his maintenance.

Balliet spent a lot of time on image boards, anonymous online forums. Here, too, his radicalization apparently took place. He was anonymous on the net, leaving hardly any traces. The investigators did not come across any knowers either. With a collection of documents that Balliet posted on the Internet before his deed, he made it clear where he stood: In English, he sent references to an online scene that celebrates extreme right-wing attacks. Explained how he assembled his weapons himself for months. How he scouted the synagogue. And called to kill as many Jews as possible.

The right-wing extremist does not regret his act. In his interrogations, he only complained about Kevin S.’s death because he had mistaken him for a Muslim. He regretted that the attack on the synagogue and the “Middle East” failed. If he had not been arrested, he would have continued to murder, possibly in synagogues in Leipzig or Magdeburg, or from a hideaway in the Harz Mountains. And Balliet paid homage to the Christchurch assassin, who shot 51 people in two mosques in 2019 and also broadcast his deed live. At the end of May, Balliet also tried to escape in the JVA Halle and climbed over a wall to give up again a few minutes later.

Now Stephan Balliet could look for his stage in the process, spread his hatred of Jews and racism again. The Christchurch assassin also displayed his convictions in court, grinning and forming a “white power” gesture with his fingers.

Traumatized and exhausted

Rifat Tekin sits in the Kiezdöner in Halle a few days ago. It is now his snack bar. After the attack, the previous owner bequeathed the business to him and his brother Ismet. When Balliet fired into the store nine months ago, Tekin was hiding behind the counter. Now he is also a co-plaintiff in the process. It will be stressful, says Tekin. But: “I want to know what is wrong with the perpetrator, what he has against Muslims.”

3 men and a woman stand in front of a flower memorial in front of the snack shop

Rifat and Ismet Tekin, Izzet Cagac and Myriam Skalska (from left to right) before the kebab snack in October 2019 Foto: Betty Pabst

On the wall behind Rifat Tekin are soccer jerseys from Halleschen FC, Kevin S.’s favorite club, and plaques commemorating the fatalities of the attack. The broken window has been replaced. “It’s been a long time,” says Rifat Tekin.

Just like his brother, Ismet Tekin is a co-plaintiff in the lawsuit. He had just left the shop when he got hit by the ball that Balliet used to fire on police officers. He is no longer afraid. “If you are afraid, you can no longer go out.” His hope is that the perpetrator “will be punished in such a way that nobody thinks about it again. Such things only bring shame to this country, mess up so many lives, ”says Tekin.

It took Christina Feist days to cry. And weeks before she understood that she too was traumatized and needed a therapist. “We are all exhausted,” says Feist about the believers who were in the synagogue.

Other anti-Semitic incidents

Max Privorozki is the head of the Jewish community in Halle. He jumps at every helicopter he hears, he says. Then there was the corona pandemic after the attack, again the daily community had to be reorganized, for the first time since the end of the World War the Passover festival was canceled, the memory of the victims of the Shoah had to take place virtually. And only 19 believers are now allowed to go to the synagogue together. Every time you go through the dark brown oak door, in which the bullet holes still gap. Cameras are now clearly visible on masts, a police car is at one end of the street and a white and blue police container at the other. The door will soon be replaced and placed in the courtyard of the synagogue. “Of course nobody will forget the attack here,” says Privorozki.

And there were anti-Semitic incidents in Halle again. The other Jewish community in the city received a threatening letter, one man insulted passers-by in the market square, another put two handkerchief swastikas in front of Privorozki’s synagogue. Security cameras show how a called police officer crushed one of them. The official has been transferred and disciplinary investigations are underway against him. “It’s insane,” says Privorozki. “How am I supposed to trust the police there?” His community is still negotiating with the country about a better security concept.

The police counted 2,032 anti-Semitic crimes nationwide in 2019, an increase of 13 percent. Christina Feist is angry. “Solidarity is declared after every attack. It’s nice, but it’s no longer enough, ”she says. Feist advocates educational programs against anti-Semitism that reach everyone and eliminate prejudices. Perhaps the process could shake people up. “It’s probably naive,” says Feist, “but that’s still the rest of the hope I have.”


Right-wing extremist threatening mail series: Police chief is out of a job

The cabaret artist İdil Baydar was also spied on by Hessian police computers. Now the state police president resigns.

Retires, a bit suddenly: State Police President Udo Münch Photo: Arne Dedert / dpa

BERLIN taz | The right-wing extremist series of threatening emails against politicians and celebrities, with a focus on Hesse, now also has personnel consequences. On Tuesday afternoon, Hesse’s Interior Minister Peter Beuth (CDU) announced the resignation of State Police President Udo Münch. The latter admitted that he had not informed him in good time about data queries about those later threatened on police computers, says Beuth. It was agreed that “such outstanding information, both for the investigation and for the political assessment of these threats, should have been given immediately”.

It had recently become known that there had also been a data query on the Hessian police computer for the cabaret artist İdil Baydar. Baydar has received extreme right-wing threatening letters for many months, according to its own statements, most recently from a sender named “SS Obersturmbannführer”. Under the same alias, the Hessian Left Group leader Janine Wissler, the Left Bundestag MP Martina Renner and the Berlin Left Group leader Anne Helm were threatened – here also with the abbreviation “NSU 2.0” and stating personal address details.

Beuth confirmed that there was a data query on a Wiesbaden police station about Baydar. He called this and a possible connection to the series of threats “outrageous”. The query is said to have taken place in March 2019. Who was responsible for it has not yet been clarified. An identified official apparently denies the query – he is only used as a witness in the investigation.

In the case of Wissler, too, the query was made in Wiesbaden, and here, too, the official under whose login this was done denies this query. Accordingly, other police officers may have used his account. Already in August 2018, there were “NSU 2.0” threatening letters against Frankfurt lawyer Seda Başay-Yıldız, again with personal data and previously retrieved police data, at that time in a Frankfurt district.

Top Priority Investigations

The suspicion that there could be a connection between all of these threats and police involvement “weighs heavily,” said Beuth. However, a causal relationship has not yet been proven. The investigations were carried out with “highest priority”. Beuth confirmed that he was only informed about the data queries against Wissler and Baydar by State Police President Münch last Wednesday.

The Hessian interior minister described the series of threats as “outrageous”

This late communication was “not acceptable”. Beuth initially held the LKA Hessen responsible for this and appointed a special investigator for the authority. Several media then reported on internal notes, according to which the LKA informed the police headquarters in March about the data query about Wissler.

Münch, who has led the Hessian police for ten years, has now admitted this. He learned of the data query in a video conference, but was not aware of this fact and therefore did not inform Beuth. Münch himself asked for his early retirement, said Beuth. He complied with that. The minister praised Münch as an “honest and binding man”. “As the top police officer, he takes responsibility for omissions that he is not solely responsible for.”

İdil Baydar made serious charges against the police. “What I find really strange is that not a single policeman reports to me,” she told the taz. “The police don’t seem to care about my threat.” Martina Renner and Anne Helm had also criticized the LKA sharply. Seda Başay-Yıldız, on the other hand, said the LKA was the only institution that protected her.

Does the President Sacrifice Himself?

Beuth announced further reforms to the Hessian police. All structures would now be “thoroughly checked” in order to remedy abuses. All police officers should also receive new log-in data for the data systems and a transfer will be punished. Press the “reset button”.

The Frankfurt public prosecutor’s office, which leads the investigation into the threatening emails, said that since August 2018 it has been investigating “without exhaustion from all available and criminally sensible investigative options”. In addition to the accused, more than 30 witnesses were interviewed and a large number of communication monitors were initiated. However, the fact that the threats come “from the anonymity of the Internet” creates challenges.

The Hessian SPD called the Munich resignation an “act of political despair”. Its loyalty to Beuth is legendary. That he did not inform the minister was “simply not credible”. The police chief sacrificed himself to protect Beuth. The left also demanded that Beuth “no longer duck away” and stand up for mistakes.


“NSU 2.0” threatening letter: further politicians affected

After Hessin Janine Wissler, two other left-wing MPs in Berlin received threatening letters. Again, they contain data that is not public.

Not alone affected: Janine Wissler in the Hessian state parliament with interior minister Peter Beuth Photo: Andreas Arnold / dpa

BERLIN/FRANKFURT AM MAIN taz | The current “NSU 2.0” series of threatening letters is expanding. According to the Hessian left-wing faction leader Janine Wissler, the left-wing parliamentarian Martina Renner and the left-wing faction leader in the Berlin House of Representatives Anne Helm recently received threatening letters from the same sender. Personal, publicly unknown information was also received.

Wissler had already received a first letter in mid-February, which was signed with “NSU 2.0”. It contains Nazi slogans and threats. The sender also provided personal information about the left-wing politician. Wissler then turned to the police, who found that their data had recently been accessed by a police computer in Wiesbaden.

An official has been found, denies loudly Spiegel-Information, however, the data query. According to this, other police officers did the search via his account. The interviewed officer is only listed as a “witness” in the investigation. A search of his private computer was said not to have taken place.

Left-wing politicians Renner and Helm are also affected

Wissler had already received a second one week after the first letter in February. Two more “NSU 2.0” threatening emails followed a few days ago. These were also sent to other senders in parallel, including Martina Renner and Anne Helm. All three left-wing politicians are personally addressed in the letters and a “death sentence” pronounced. Personal, publicly unknown data are also listed.

The three politicians are all known for their engagement against right-wing extremism. Wissler and Helm are currently not commenting on the threats. Renner made serious allegations to the investigators. “The LKA Hessen has so far completely failed to clarify the threat series,” she told the taz. “It is a grave failure by Interior Minister Beuth to deal only now with the death threats against committed women.”

Helm also said: “Confidence in the Hessian authorities has been permanently destroyed. Therefore, the Federal Prosecutor’s Office should take legal action. ”The contents of the threatening letters also showed that the perpetrator (s) had access to sources of sensitive data and connections to Berlin.

The LKA Hessen did not comment on the process for the time being. The Frankfurt / Main public prosecutor’s office declined to comment on the basis of the ongoing investigation. Striking: The current “NSU 2.0” threatening letters repeatedly refer to reports on investigative measures against police officers as part of the threatening series. This investigation is repeatedly criticized by the senders.

Interior Minister no longer excludes right-wing police network

Since August 2018, the Frankfurt lawyer Seda Başay-Yıldız, who represented victim families in the Munich NSU trial, has repeatedly received threatening letters from an “NSU 2.0”. They also received personal data, for example from their family members. Data from Başay-Yıldız had previously been accessed on a Frankfurt police computer. The sender has not been determined to date, the letters were apparently sent from the Darknet.

Hesse’s interior minister Peter Beuth (CDU) was angry on Thursday afternoon that in the Janine Wissler case from the LKA Hessen he was only informed about the data query by a police computer in February on Wednesday. This is “completely unacceptable” given the importance of the process. Beuth said that he had no further evidence of a right-wing network in the Hessian police. The renewed data query, however, “nourishes the suspicion” of such. The Hessian police must now make no attempt to “refute this suspicion”.

Beuth now wants to deploy a special investigator who will lead the investigation into the threatening e-mails and report directly to the state police chief. In the future, every police officer will also have to document an official reason for data queries in the police systems.

Basay-Yildiz criticized Beuth on Friday and was “amazed” by the statement by the interior minister. Unlike the Hessian LKA boss Sabine Thurau, he “never reported to me and my family”. Thurau, on the other hand, had sought personal contact and had been protecting her child, who is still under massive threat, for a year and a half, the lawyer said. “It was not looking for the public like the interior minister or other political actors who made empty promises and never came back, but actually did something.”

Unlike Martina Rennner and Anne Helm, Basay-Yildiz does not criticize the State Criminal Police Office. Despite all the structural problems, the work of Thurau and the LKA had created trust in the police, said the lawyer. This should now “not be torpedoed by Mr. Beuth for political reasons”.

Politics are alarmed

Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) Seehofer also called Wissler’s threats “completely unacceptable”. The incident must be “ruthlessly cleared up”. Left-wing party leader Bernd Riexinger has accused the authorities of insufficient protection of his party’s politicians. “I am shocked that my colleagues have never been offered police protection in the past,” he said Rheinische Post.

Green leader Annalena Baerbock demanded that independent scientists investigate anti-constitutional tendencies in the security authorities. It is not a matter of general suspicion that the vast majority of employees are “unquestionably loyal to the constitution,” said Baerbock the German press agency. But if there were always extreme right-wing incidents in the security authorities that had access to weapons and sensitive data, these activities would have to be uncovered, analyzed and consistently punished.


New constitutional protection report: No rest against the right

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer rightly emphasizes the great current danger from right-wing extremism. But the Office for the Protection of the Constitution alone cannot cope with this.

Clear words on the “wing” of the AfD: Seehofer at the presentation of the Constitution Protection Report 2019 Photo: Thomas Imo / photothek / imago

It was a clear message that Horst Seehofer and head of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Thomas Haldenwang, sent out on Thursday. Right-wing extremism is currently threatening this country. And not only with the fists of blunt violent offenders, but also with the ignitions of the intellectual arsonists, such as the “wing” right wing in the AfD and new right-wingers like Götz Kubitschek.

It is the right analysis in times when right-wing extremists in Kassel, Halle and Hanau murder, heap weapons, summon a day X. In which the AfD believes its brand essence is to etch against migrants and Muslims, thus paving the way for violence – with an effect that has long been much larger and more dangerous than that of an NPD. It is also an essential analysis. What other assessment should the Office for the Protection of the Constitution come from?

If you think of the former head of office Hans-Georg Maassen, other things would be conceivable, but his successor Haldenwang goes a clearer, more appreciable path here. However: the insight comes late. Because years ago the NSU murdered, refugee accommodation was set on fire, Pegida stirred up citizens. And the state watched largely. In the case of the Oktoberfest assassination, it took 40 years for the federal prosecutor to classify the act as what it was from the beginning: right-wing extremist terror.

It is the state’s job to curb this hatred and protect minorities. And you can see what a consistent approach can do. The AfD breaks down in the dispute as to how to deal with the observation by the constitutional protection and with its extreme right-wing leaders. The new right-wing scene is losing its online platforms, right-wing extremists are unsettled by bans such as Combat 18.

And yet there is an empty space. Right-wing extremists have long seemed to network in the police and armed forces. This problem has also existed for years and is at least as dangerous. The extremists there have access to weapons and sensitive information, and are tried and tested. Here, however, Haldenwang’s report remains pale. And there are no clear words from Seehofer – instead, a study on racial profiling in the police is too much for him.

The fact remains that the protection of the constitution and the government alone will not be able to get right-wing extremism under control. It takes pressure from society as a whole, at all levels. It is worrying that the Hanau attack, with ten deaths, has the public effect of being forgotten. There must be no forgetting of such acts, no rest.