Nobody can hide on this day. They all have to listen to him, the Federal President, everyone is here: the Federal Public Prosecutor, whose house ordered the destruction of the evidence from the assassination in 1997 and thus made the later investigation impossible. The Lord Mayor of the City of Munich, who today apologizes for the fact that back then – only hours after the attack – the city just let the party go on as if nothing had happened. The Bavarian Prime Minister, whose predecessors failed to commemorate Theresienwiese for 40 years.
The Federal President speaks of anger and wounds and he is serious. He speaks of the wounds of the victims of the Oktoberfest attack 40 years ago, but also of the wounds of the rule of law that the bombing of the right-wing extremist assassin hit. He speaks of the anger about the trivialization of the attack and the missed opportunities to clear it up. He thinks of the past, but he talks about the present. Just three days ago, Frank-Walter Steinmeier met with the victims of the right-wing attack in Hanau. Soon he will be traveling on the anniversary of the assassination attempt on the Halle synagogue.
The danger from the right has not diminished in the past 40 years, says the Federal President at the commemorative event for the Oktoberfest attack in Munich. “So let’s keep the memory of Munich alive – including the mistakes that have been made. Only those who know their mistakes will be able to correct them.” And enough mistakes were made: the investigation soon stopped, the evidence was destroyed, the perpetrator was misunderstood as a mentally unstable student who only murdered out of personal problems and not in order to influence the 1980 federal elections. The Federal Prosecutor’s Office has only now recognized the political motive after the investigation was restarted.
“The perpetrators were involved in networks of hatred”
The Federal President addresses all of this very openly. The inadequate explanation of the attack not only hurts the victims of the time, he says. “Our democratic community, our constitutional state, has also suffered a wound – to this day.” And he says something that many state politicians still do not want to admit: “The right-wing terrorist murders of the past decades were not the work of confused people. The perpetrators were integrated into networks of hatred and violence or were incited to their acts by them. We have to track down these networks. We have to fight them – even more decisively than before! ” This also applies to the perpetrators in Hanau and Halle. It is almost a concrete task for the police, the protection of the constitution and the judiciary.
The head of state says very seriously: “Looking the other way is no longer allowed. Not after the Oktoberfest attack, not after the NSU trial, after the threatening letters of NSU 2.0, after weapons finds and enemy lists of so-called prepper groups with connections to reservists of the Bundeswehr, detectives, special operations units, yes even to judges and employees of the protection of the constitution, not after the discovery of a right-wing extremist chat group within the police in North Rhine-Westphalia. Enemies of freedom and democracy must not be tolerated in the police. Every effort must be made to expose right-wing extremist networks, wherever They exist. The police leaderships and those politically responsible must not tolerate a climate in which they arise and can be covered by others. “
He names everything that goes wrong in Germany and that has been played down and belittled for years. He does this in a place that couldn’t be more symbolic. At the entrance to the Oktoberfest. This is exactly where the right-wing extremist Gundolf Köhler’s bomb exploded 40 years ago. She killed twelve people and injured more than 200, some seriously. A number of survivors are now sitting in front of the Federal President. People who have lost their siblings, their love, their legs. You can see some of them walking with difficulty, some come on a rollator or in a wheelchair. Many still have bomb fragments in their bodies. You sit there in the square in front of the entrance, wrapped in winter coats, only with rain capes against the gusts and the cold, driving rain. But they hold out. It is important to them. For the first time a Federal President is paying tribute to her suffering. After 40 years.
Affected people speak on stage
Steinmeier becomes very personal: “Nobody can escape the shadow that terror casts over a life,” he said and asks: “Who will ease your pain, who will help you in everyday life?” And: “How should a seven-year-old forget the picture of his seriously injured mother? How should he forget the firefighter who wanted to pray the Lord’s Prayer with him? How should a passionate mountaineer, who was torn apart by the bomb, forget that she was in the long Years after the assassination only saw mountain peaks in photos and instead had to laboriously learn to walk again? And above all: How do the mothers, fathers and children whose loved ones were killed live on? “
Four of those affected then go on stage themselves: Gudrun Lang, who lost her boyfriend at the age of 19, Renate Martinez, who was seriously injured as a young woman, Robert Höckmayr, who was only twelve and saw two of his siblings die. And Dimitrios Lagkadinos, from whom the bomb took his legs and his girlfriend. He had just turned 17. These people are very different. One says that for him every day is September 26th. He couldn’t forget. The other says she would have wished that the people behind the attack end up in prison. But they also talk about the power of humans that can overcome destruction. In the end, Lagkadinos rolls forward a little in his wheelchair. He addressed the victims of the attack directly: “I would like to make another appeal to those people who are having a hard time: Take your life in your hand and look ahead. Do not ask why and why. Such thoughts only torment you, that only weakens you. ” In the pouring rain, at the place of terror, shivering with the cold, this man says: “Believe me one thing: life is beautiful.” People clap.
Then the Bavarian Prime Minister climbs onto the stage. He makes a “protection promise”. The country will no longer underestimate the danger posed by right-wing extremists, says Markus Söder, he will take a clear line against old and new Nazis, and that is owed to the victims of the Oktoberfest attack. “Anyone who underestimates right-wing extremism is sinning against democracy,” says Söder.
In the end, the Federal President, together with the Lord Mayor of Munich Dieter Reiter and the victims, opened the new documentation center for the attack at the entrance to Theresienwiese. It was designed together with those affected. And the DGB youth organized the commemoration as it has done for 38 years, it has been doing it since then, when no one felt responsible for the victims. And she wants to keep it that way, she promised.