Thursday

25th May 2017

Germany 'underestimated' neo-Nazi risk

  • A massive police presence was deployed in Berlin to protect asylum seekers from neo-Nazi protesters (Photo: ekvidi)

German authorities have "grossly underestimated" the threat of neo-Nazi groups, but security services are not racist, a parliament inquiry has found.

The study, which came out on Thursday (21 August) was commissioned after one far-right gang murdered 10 people over seven years without being discovered.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Nine of its victims were of Turkish and Greek origin, with police wrongly assuming they were part of organised crime rings and that the killings were some form of score settling.

The three-person cell, called the National Socialist Underground (NSU), only came to light in November 2011 when Beate Zschaepe, its last surviving member, turned herself in.

Her two accomplices had killed themselves shortly earlier after a botched bank robbery.

Zschaepe is currently on trial in Munich for complicity to murder and 14 bank robberies.

A special parliamentary committee set up to look at the "systemic failure" of police and secret services in the case filed its 1,300-page-long report after consulting 12,000 files and listening to 100 witnesses.

It described the failure to find the murderers as a "historically unprecedented disaster."

"Right wing extremism was underestimated at all levels, police investigations were based on the assumption that Turks murder Turks," committee chairman Sebastian Edathy said in a press conference.

He noted that German security services have a "mentality issue" and said that if policemen with immigrant backgrounds had worked on the NSU cases the group might have been stopped earlier.

One of the study's 47 recommendations is to recruit more ethnically diverse policemen and to give police better intercultural training.

But he added there is no evidence to show that police or secret services were aware of the real identity of the killers and "looked away or encouraged them."

"We don't have structural racism, but we have some racists in police and secret services and they should be fired," Edathy said.

For their part, families of the victims say the report is not critical enough.

"Institutional racism is in their view the biggest problem this committee should have addressed, but that is not the case in this report," their lawyers said in a statement.

They said German politicians as well as security services have a "mentality problem" on the far right.

Meanwhile, a massive police presence was deployed in Berlin on Thursday to protect a newly opened refugee centre in Hellersdorf, where hundreds of neo-Nazi protesters had gathered calling for the foreigners to be sent back home.

The protesters greeted some arriving refugees with the Nazi salute.

Speaking at the press event on the NSU, Petra Pau, a leftist MP from Hellersdorf, said she was happy that "politicians from all parties stood up and came to a counter-demonstration."

"I would not say it is dangerous for asylum seekers to come to Germany, but we have to fight these neo-Nazi," she noted.

Wolfgang Wieland, a Green MP, also said it is important not to make a campaign issue out of immigrants and refugees, including Roma from Romania and Bulgaria.

Attempts by interior minister Hans-Peter Friedrich, a Bavarian Conservative, to capitalise on the idea to send back Roma who "abuse the welfare system" have so far failed to gain traction ahead of the 22 September elections.

"So far this has worked, but I hope it will hold over the next four weeks," Weiland said.

Germany considering ban on neo-Nazi party

Regional ministers are to ask the German Constitutional Court to ban the neonazi National Democratic Party, but the government is reluctant to join in.

Children among dead in UK bomb attack

Children are among the victims after a suspected suicide bomber detonated at the Manchester Arena on Monday, the latest in a string of terror attacks to hit Europe.

EU and US discuss in-flight laptop ban

A meeting between US and EU officials in Brussels on possibly imposing a laptop ban on commercial flights was described by one senior Trump administration official as "robust".

EU visa waiver looms for Russia-annexed Crimeans

Visa liberalisation for Ukrainians entering the EU will also apply to inhabitants of the peninsula taken over by Moscow in 2014. But the issue poses administrative as well as political problems.

EU visa waiver looms for Russia-annexed Crimeans

Visa liberalisation for Ukrainians entering the EU will also apply to inhabitants of the peninsula taken over by Moscow in 2014. But the issue poses administrative as well as political problems.

News in Brief

  1. British PM to speak out on US terrorism leaks
  2. Tusk calls for 'values, not just interests' after Trump meeting
  3. Pressure grows on climate impact of EU timber harvesting
  4. US goes after Fiat Chrysler over emissions cheat
  5. Munich police break up Europe-wide burglar clan
  6. Report: VW threatened with €19.7 billion French fine
  7. Turkey begins mass trial of suspected coup leaders
  8. Merkel's CDU consolidates lead in polls

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFChild Alert on Myanmar: Fruits of Rapid Development yet to Reach Remote Regions
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersBecome an Explorer - 'Traces of Nordic' Seeking Storytellers Around the World
  3. Malta EU 2017Closer Cooperation and Reinforced Solidarity to Ensure Security of Gas Supply
  4. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceHigh-Intensity Interval Training Is Therapeutic Option for Type 2 Diabetes
  5. Dialogue Platform"The West Must Help Turkey Return to a Democratic Path" a Call by Fethullah Gulen
  6. ILGA-EuropeRainbow Europe 2017 Is Live - Which Countries Are Leading on LGBTI Equality?
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWhen You Invest in a Refugee Woman You Help the Whole Community
  8. Eurogroup for AnimalsECJ Ruling: Member States Given No Say on Wildlife Protection In Trade
  9. European Heart NetworkCall for Urgent Adoption of EU-Wide Nutrient Profiles for Nutrition & Health Claims
  10. Counter BalanceInvestment Plan for Europe More Climate Friendly but European Parliament Shows Little Ambition
  11. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi: China's Belt and Road Initiative Benefits People Around the World
  12. Malta EU 2017EU Strengthens Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Firearms

Latest News

  1. EU to Trump: Defend Western values, not your interests
  2. Nato to join Trump's anti-IS coalition
  3. Trump expected to make Nato pledge
  4. Car-sharing's promise of clean cities
  5. Openness over Brexit is 'political play', says EU ombudsman
  6. Le Pen's EU group in fresh spending scandal
  7. New EU right to data portability to cause headaches
  8. Cyber threats are inevitable, paralyzing impact is not