On the night of February 19, an armed man attacked two shisha bars and killed at least nine people. All of them had an “immigration” background, like most of the injured. Five of the dead are said to be Turkish nationals. A shoot-out in the city of Hanau near Frankfurt unfortunately seems to confirm the Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier´s recent statement on the resurging far right-wing violence in Germany .
Not long ago, at an official memorial service for the victims of National Socialism in Berlin, Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier issued a strong warning: “Hatred and abuse are spreading,” he said before an audience that included his Israeli counterpart. After imagining that “the ghosts of the past would disappear with time”, Germans now see them “raising their ugly heads again in a new guise”.
The rampage began at around 10 pm and seems to have revolved around two shisha bars in immigrant areas of the city. After opening fire in the shisha bar at midnight, the suspect then fled by car to the Arena Bar and the café, where the attack continued. The shisha bars, which were initially set up in the city’s Turkish community, have become very popular with young Germans in recent years.
Turkey called the shooting a “racist attack” and said that five of its citizens were among the dead. German authorities have not yet publicly confirmed the nationality of the victims, but the public prosecutor’s office said that the victims were between 21 and 44 years old and that both foreign and German citizens had been killed. Six others were injured in the attacks, one of them seriously.
Although the police named the shooter only as Tobias R., they also released information about his place and date of birth. This information is consistent with what a man named has published on his personal website. Federal Attorney Peter Frank told reporters that the website of the alleged killer contained a “kind of manifesto” containing “confused thoughts”, “conspiracy theories” and a “deeply racist attitude”. The website was dismantled.
YouTube said it closed the account of a man named Tobias Rathjen on Thursday morning. The most recent video, uploaded on February 14, links to Rathjen’s personal website. The suspect had a legal firearms license, Beuth said. According to Germany’s national gun register, there were 5.7 million privately owned guns and 1.5 million gun owners in 2015.
In the TAZ commentary by Stefan Reinecke “Germany has never been as friendly and liberal as it wishes to be. But facing present far right-wing terror, it becomes clear that all the proclamations are not enough. The Federal Republic has painted a friendly picture of itself. It has learned from the history of Nazi violence, this has been firmly anchored in the West and is largely armed against the authoritarian seduction that is currently gaining ground globally. We, on the other hand, are almost eager to create a liberal, cosmopolitan impression.
This narrative has always been too smooth, too nice, too drenched in self-praise. Now this is why it is so difficult to grasp what is obvious: That there is a right-wing terrorist attack against the republic, a bloody trace trailing from the murders in the 1990´s, the NSU, the murder of Walter Lübcke and the attack on the synagogue in Halle to the dead in Hanau. This right-wing terror is a deep scratch in the nice image of the Federal Republic as a haven of reason and civility. Because the right-wing murders do not fit in to this, it becomes extremely difficult to take the attacks as seriously as they are”.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas condemned the spread of right-wing attacks: “If the suspicion is confirmed, the cruel act in Hanau will be the third right-wing extremist assassination attempt in Germany within a year,” he said. “Right-wing terrorism has again become a threat to our country. There is absolutely nothing to relativize.”
Chancellor Angela Merkel, who cancelled a planned trip to the city of Halle after the attack, said the evidence pointed overwhelmingly to extremist motives. “It is still too early for a final evaluation. Everything is being done to clarify the background of these terrible murders down to the last detail. But there are currently many indications that the perpetrator acted out of right-wing extremist, racist motives – out of hatred against people of other origins, other beliefs or other manifestations,” Merkel said from Berlin.
“Racism is a poison, hate is a poison”, Merkel continued. “I am now thinking above all of the families and friends of the murdered people,” said Merkel from Berlin. None of us can measure the suffering that the perpetrators have brought upon them. I grieve with them and express my deepest sympathy for them.”
“We believe that it is in the interest of the victims’ families if the crime and its background are cleared as quickly as possible,” she added in a statement. The Hessian state parliament in the state of Hanau suspended all sessions on Thursday. A vigil for the victims in Hanau on Thursday evening became a spontaneous protest against extremism. Some participants carried signs denouncing racism and xenophobia.
A chronology of right-wing violence since Re-unification in Germany:
Hanau Feb. 2020
In Hanau, the suspected perpetrator Tobias R. killed ten people. The crime scenes: a shisha bar in the city centre and a kiosk in the Kasselstadt district – there the suspected perpetrator shot nine people – all had an immigration background, five of them had a Turkish passport. The morning after the crime, the police find the 43-year-old and his 72-year-old mother dead in his apartment.
Hall October 2019
In Halle in Saxony-Anhalt Stephan B. tries to penetrate the synagogue there. When this fails, he shoots a 40-year-old woman in the street and later in a snack bar a 20-year-old man. According to investigators, B. wanted to cause a massacre in the synagogue for right-wing extremist motives. The synagogue was fully occupied on the holiday Yom Kippur.
Kassel June 2019:
The prominent mayor Walter Lübcke is shot dead by a right-wing extremist supporter on the terrace of his house in the small village of Istha in Central Germany. The presumed shooter is the right-wing extremist Stephan E. The motive for the murder is presumably Lübcke’s statements made during the refugee crisis in 2015.
July 2016: 18-year-old David S. shoots nine people at the Munich Olympic Shopping Centre (OEZ) before shooting himself. The victims, most of whom were young, came from immigrant families. S. did not know his victims, but apparently chose them because of their appearance. More than three years after the crime and on the basis of several expert opinions, the investigators classified the murders last year as right-wing extremist attacks. The weapon was obtained by the perpetrator in Darknet.
October 2015: A right-wing extremist attacks Cologne’s candidate for mayor Henriette Reker with a knife and seriously injures her and a woman standing next to her. The attack was allegedly triggered by dissatisfaction with Reker’s refugee policy.
November 2011: The terrorist cell “National Socialist Underground” (NSU) is discovered after a bank robbery. By 2007, the two men had killed a total of nine migrants and one policewoman, they committed two bomb attacks and more than a dozen robberies. Beate Zschäpe gives the impression of a middle-class life underground. Most of the victims were tradespeople with Turkish or Greek roots. The terror series will only become known in 2011 after a suspected suicide by Uwe Böhnhardt and Uwe Mundlos. She is sentenced to life in prison.
July 2000: Ten people are injured and an unborn child dies in an assassination attempt on immigrants from Eastern Europe. The explosive device was attached to the Wehrhahn S-Bahn station. The Regional Court acquits a suspect with contacts to the right-wing scene in mid-2018 because of “flimsy evidence”. The crime is still unsolved.
May 1993: Five women and girls are killed and 14 people are injured in an arson attack on the house of an extended Turkish family. The four perpetrators from the Solingen neo-Nazi scene are convicted of murder.
November 1992: Neo-Nazis set a house inhabited by Turks in the Schleswig-Holstein town on fire. Three women die. One perpetrator is sentenced to life in prison, his juvenile accomplice for ten years.
Between 22nd and 26th August 1992 against the Central Reception Centre for Asylum Seekers (ZAst) and a hostel for former Vietnamese contract workers in the so-called Sunflower House in Rostock-Lichtenhagen were the most massive racially motivated attacks in Germany after the end of the Second World War.
Hoyerswerda – Fire and Arson against Immigrants
On 17 September 1991, Vietnamese traders were attacked at the market in the small Saxon town of Hoyerswerda. This is the prelude to five days of hatred and violence in a lawless area. Incendiary bombs fly at the asylum-seekers’ home, the police capitulate to the Nazis.
Lübeck 1996: Not a Nazi attack – or is it?
Many African asylum seekers died. Ten dead, two sentences, no guilty party!
In the 90s asylum seekers lived there. Mainly Africans who had fled from wars in their home countries. “They had come to Germany to find protection here”, is written on a man-sized grey stone. It is meant to remind us of the night when ten of them died.