The theme of the day’s court proceedings was Mundlos, Böhnhardt and Zschäpe’s shared apartment on Zwickau’s Frühlingstraße. The examination of the house caretaker E. as well as the handymen P. and K. should help to, on the one hand, identify the suspected members of the NSU and their roles and, on the other hand, to clarify the question who was either accidentally or intentionally put in danger by the arson on the 4th of November 2011.
Today, the witness stand is moved into the middle of the room, in front of the Bench. Attorneys Klemke and Schneider move over to where Holger G. and Carsten S. sat during their examinations. Wohlleben sits, as a consequence, very close to Carsten S.
At 9:50 the judges enter hall. Attorney Sturm, Beate Zschäpe’s defense, is once again not present. Today, attorney Pausch, Carsten S.’s defense, is represented by attorney Potlzer. Presiding judge Götzl announces that the witnesses planned for the subject of the fire on Zwickau’s Frühlingstraße are not yet present, therefore they will begin with the second witness. That is Mr. E., who was the caretaker for the house at Frühlingstraße 26 at the time of the fire.
After a bit of banter about the seating chart, Götzl asks the witness initially about general details of the property. E. says the then owner was a greengrocer with ‘Vietnamese heritage’ who purchased the property in June of 2011 and assumed responsibilities on the 1st of September 2011. E., respectively E.’s firm took over the administrative tasks and informed the renters about the change. E.: “To us, there were four tenants, one of whom was Mr. Dienelt, who had the room that later blew up. That was the tenant on the rental contract.” Aside from that were three tenants in the abutting house. They also discussed efforts to increase the number of renters by renovating the empty apartments. In the beginning of September 2011 the former caretaker, Mr. F., “nearly apologized,” that ‘Dienelt’ indicated there was a lack of flooring in the kitchen. Then he [E.] called a cell phone number and spoke with the gentleman who he thought was Dienelt. They then met to look at the problem together. However, it turned out not to be a real problem, rather it was about a minor depression in the floor. He assumed then that “he just wanted to get to know us.” There was another meeting in the apartment together with the owner. There, ‘Dienelt’ stated that only an acquaintance could be present. They then met with Zschäpe, “as we know today,” and looked at the damage with her. They didn’t speak much. It was not clear to him that she lived there. According to E., that was really the only contact with this apartment. He was often in the house, certainly two or three times a week, but without meeting anyone.
Then judge Götzl asks questions. Initially, they’re about the information that E. had about the tenants. E. says that he got a cellphone number, a name, and a rental contract from the old caretaker F.. In his caretaking firm it’s typical to also require identification and proof of income. F. also said to him, “the tenants in the apartment renovated at their own expense. He said I shouldn’t be surprised; the people were sometimes a bit weird.” The first rent for September was received by the old landlords. On the 28th of September 2011 a transfer of 740 euros (500 euros for the flat plus utilities) was received under the name “Lisa Dienelt for Matthias Dienelt.” On the 25th of October 2011, than a transfer of 740 euros was received under the name “Lisa Pohl Rent Dienelt” from a Zwickau Sparkasse account.
Next, the questions were about who was present at which meeting in the apartment’s kitchen. According to E., the owner was present at one of the meetings, since one had to tell him what if anything would need to be done. Aside from that, the witness P., who was employed as a handyman in the house, was present. E. later says that potentially both the owner and the witness P. were present at one meeting when Götzl asks him. He was however certain that at the first meeting the man that he thought was Dienelt was present and at the second the woman. At the meetings in the apartment he had only been in the hall and the kitchen, not in the other rooms. The meetings were definitely in September 2011. There were perhaps two weeks between them.
The appointment for the second meeting was arranged over the already familiar cell phone number. Regarding the behavior of the woman E. says: “Yeah, pretty normal. I don’t think we spoke much.” There was no reason to ask for her opinion regarding the work because as he understood it at the time, she was just an acquaintance that maybe lived in the vicinity and had time. According to E. he never met anyone in the stairwell when he visited Frühlingstraße. Next, the questions were about what renovations they undertook. E. says the next witness P. should have put the apartments into a rentable condition. P. probably employed other people in the work, but he, E., doesn’t know anything about it. The work on the heating and electrical were taken over by other companies. There was no time pressure because there wasn’t anyone interested in the apartments yet. As a result, it wasn’t worked on continuously. The work probably began before the transfer of ownership in September.
Then the conversation turned to two situations that were described to E. by other people. For one, the situation in the basement.: E. reported that the basement was filled with trash but that one cellar room had ‘spick and span’ sheet metal doors. He didn’t know to whom it belonged. Then he discussed with the witness P., “that from todays perspective was a bit flippant,”: “If we don’t know (…) lets just open it up.” From hearsay he knew about a meeting between P., when he wanted to lend a hand, and Mr. B., who cleaned out the basement for the owner and Zschäpe. Zschäpe informed them that it was their basement, and that was it. The second situation had to do with the pruning of a tree on the property that B. had done at the request of the owners: “There, he was upbraided by one of the residents, male I think; what ‘was he thinking pruning the tree, because the neighbors could see into the apartment’.” The subsequent discussions about these incidents occurred after the 4th of November.
Next the court turns to the fire on the fourth of November. He learned from P. some time after 15:00 that the house exploded. P. was at the baker’s or butcher’s with Mr. L. from the heating contractors. Then he drove there himself, but the quarter was closed off. He had an appointment with the police before noon on the 5th of November. The meeting was about who the renter was. The owner wanted to re-build the house, but that plan was aborted at the wishes of the city of Zwickau, because the mayor had said the site could become a cult site. The house was sold to the city in the beginning of December “and that was that.”
After a question about the damages that arose from the fire there is a break. Afterwards, judge Götzl asks the witness about information given in earlier questionings. Initially it’s about the meeting with the residents of the apartment. In an earlier statement E. dated the first meeting on the 6th of September and the second on the 20th of September. Moreover, he had said that handyman P. was present at the second meeting. E. says that’s probably correct, he can’t easily differentiate between the meetings on Frühlingstraße anymore. It was practically necessary that P. was also at the second meeting if he did the work there.
The questioning repeatedly revolves around identifying the people. According to E., he cannot recognize the person he thought was ‘Dienelt’ that opened the door at the first meeting “because of the numerous photos.” They were definitely around thirty, taller than he is, and had short hair or a shaved head. Götzl directs E. to a statement, according to which he had said he was almost certain the woman he met was Zschäpe. E. says he doesn’t know how Zschäpe looked in September 2011. The woman he saw had shoulder length hair that was not tied up. “Naturally its difficult [to identify her]because I’d never seen her before objectively as Mrs. Zschäpe.” When asked, he says that the he had seen the pictures in the media, but identified significant differences. Götzl shows him a photo-array that was submitted by the police. When looking at photos of Böhnhardt and Mundlos he says that Böhnhardt was not the person that he met, but couldn’t exclude Mundlos. When he looks at a picture of Zschäpe, he says its another one “where she doesn’t look like it.” When shown a photo of Susann E., the wife of the co-defendant André E., he says that it could have been the person, if the hair were black and shoulder length and she was small of stature. When asked by Götzl, the witness E. says he never saw children in the Frühlingstraße apartment.
Next, payment of rent was discussed. Until February the rent before utilities had cost 363 Euros, then 389 until may, and then finally 500 Euros when the house was purchased. He could not explain the raises. He didn’t know anything about subletting. In the week after the 4th of November 2011 he received a phone call from the previous caretaker F., informing him that Dienelt died in a motorhome. Aside from that he mentioned a letter from a Mr. D., which he received after the 4th of November 2011. It said that D. was the renter and that he sublet it to Mr. B.. According to unconfirmed information this B. was dead. If there is still a rental contract, this information is considered precautionarily communicated.
Next up, the co-plaintiffs ask questions. According to E., when asked by attorney Reineke, he cannot remember an appraisal. Attorney Lex asks if there are photos of the house before it was sold. E. answers that there are certainly photos of the house; he had, of course, looked for tenants. He can possibly provide the photos.
Next up are questions from Zschäpe’s defense. Attorney Heer asks, amongst other things, about where the handyman parked his automobile when he worked in the house. E. says the automobile would have been parked on the premises, in front of the entrance doors; there was an access path for the residents. It was discernable that it had something to do with the handymen without the need for the name ‘P.’ to hang on the car door. Then Heer asks if E., during his visits to Frühlingstraße, had seen how P. worked; if he had perhaps seen that P. ever “put the hammer aside.” E. answered in the affirmative. Heer wants to know if he heard the construction sounds. E. said not from outside, but inside, one would have very likely heard something. If he remembered correctly there was also a portable radio there. Then Heer asks about the stairwell and if individual steps had creaked. E.: “I can’t say if the third or the fifth step creaked, but there were steps that creaked.”
The expert witness Professor Saß asks about the vibe at the meeting in the apartment, when the woman was present. E. answers: “To talk about a vibe there would be to say more than there is to say.”
Next was the lunch break until 14:05. After the break, attorney Sturm is also present.
Now the witness P., handyman in the Frühlingstraße house, testifies. P. initially testifies without needing to be asked questions. They began to build two apartments in the attic about half a year beforehand. Then there was a work order with Ms. Zschäpe in the kitchen, tiles had cracked because of a rotten beam. There was no time pressure on the apartment construction. One of the apartments was finished on the 4th of November 2011. They would have emptied everything out. At the time he had rushed because he had also ordered coffee at the baker’s. Around 2:30 he went over there. He also commissioned the plumber, that would have built the heating system on the following Monday. He drove to the baker’s in the van, and then he heard a bang. He ran towards it. He informed the fire department and that was all he did.
Judge Götzl asks who had lived there; if there was contact with the residents. P. answers: “with Ms. Zschäpe – I got in touch with her and then also two young men. They were just customers. And in the house, I saw Ms. Zschäpe once, otherwise nobody. It was always quiet there.” Next up, the questions are about a meeting in the apartment on the first floor. In that regard it was about some damage in the kitchen, but they never got around to doing something. The appointment was made and then he went there with the witness E., the owner of the building might have been present, he doesn’t know for sure. Ms. Zschäpe was there and a young man that he can’t describe. He also met a woman in a wheelchair in the other entrance [number 26a]. On the 4th of November he had installed some insulation felt and his colleague K. had retrieved some wood from the basement. P. reported on the various tasks he’d performed in the construction site. Then there were questions about noise pollution.
Suddenly, Beate Zschäpe jumps up and points at the adapter for her laptop that’s always in front of her. Judge Götzl interrupts the session because of the “short-circuit.” A second adaptor is brought for Zschäpe, and the session continues. Götzl repeats his question, if anyone had or could have complained because of the construction. P. answers: “Actually not, only when something fell and it rattled a bit through the house.”
Once again the questions are about the meeting with the residents of the house. Götzl asks if P. had ever seen the two young men. P. answers that he saw one in the apartment. He couldn’t say if the second man was present in the apartment. He thought of two you men because the criminal police had shown him two pictures. He can’t remember meeting Zschäpe in the basement. The closed off cellar room was taboo for him. He had certainly spoken with E. and also with K. about the basement room that it would have to be opened. He doesn’t know exactly why. He saw Zschäpe once in the stairwell. He knows Mr. E. as the caretaker for the owner of the house, he had also pruned a tree. E. hadn’t told him anything about the residents of the house. P. then reported how he was injured. Later the conversation will turn to how the result and consequences were psychologically stressful for him and that he had to undergo inpatient treatment.
In the following discussion, the conversation is about the chronological order of events. He confirmed his earlier testimony, according to which he and K. had worked the entire week in the house. Then questions are about the time between when he left the house and the bang. He confirmed roughly his earlier statement. P. had assumed that the residents of the apartment worked until four or five, because he had not seen them. Around four or five he would be gone. He never saw children’s shoes in front of the apartment, but his college K. had said that he had once. Then it’s once again about the course of events during the fire and afterwards identifying the people. Götzl asks: “You spoke about Ms. Zschäpe. You are certain today that it was Zschäpe at the time?” P.: “Yes.” Götzl: “Was there ever a question about it?” P.: “I didn’t recognize her at first in the picture; at the time she wore make-up and glasses. As we handymen say to each other, a handsome lady.” He can’t describe her appearance any more exactly; he would have to use ‘handyman-jargon.’ Götzl says he should, if that’s easier for him. P.: “Actually, its not. I can’t say my thoughts anymore. A handsome lady.” She had dark hair. He can’t remember the length. When asked, he says one came upon a very olden wooden step in the attic that “creaked really loudly.” P. is shown the photo-array that was shown to him during an interview on the 7th of November 2011. P. says he doesn’t want to say for certain, but that he had thought that person number 3 (the picture shows Mundlos) was in the apartment. Götzl then shows him a picture of a male corpse. P.: “and that’s how he looks now, they say.” Then the question is once again about the beginning of the work that P. had said in an earlier statement started on the 6th of September. P. says that was surely correct. The subsequent questions are about the noise produced by the work. According to P., on the 4th of November he had installed insulation material and insulation foil was stapled. Finally the questions are once again about the meeting in the apartment. P. states that it was “one hundred percent” Zschäpe in the apartment, and another man. Whoever else was “buzzing around” the apartment, he doesn’t know. He had concentrated on the work. He couldn’t remember meeting with Böhnhardt and Mundlos in the stairwell.
Next, the co-plaintiffs ask questions. Attorney Narin asks about who was on the phone when they made the appointment to look at the apartment. P. says it was a man. He got the number from witness E.. In further questions, the subject is the noise level in the construction area. Attorney Elberling asks if P. had noticed the fake flower boxes. P. answers in the negative.
Attorney Stahl asks questions for the defense. They are about the noise made by the stairs. P. confirmed that they creaked very loud. Furthermore, he also had a portable radio in the construction area that was also used. Then Stahl asked if the neighbor P. had scene really had a wheelchair. P. confirmed this. The woman was sitting in it. Attorney Heer then asks if P. also went up and down to the car throughout the work. P. affirmed this. Götzl then goes through invoices with P. Co-plaintiff representative Ulucay asks if it ever occurred that P. would drive to the hardware store throughout the work. P. likewise affirmed that it occurred.
Next up the witness K., testifies about the assisting work for P. that he performed. They began around 8:00 am on the 4th and finished exactly around 3:00 pm. P. is said to have come down and said that they should drink a coffee at the baker’s and have to wait for the heating mechanic. He [the heating mechanic]came and they spoke. A few moments later was the explosion. They ran to the house and saw that it was the occupied floor. He didn’t see anyone come out of the house. He saw a woman looking out from the other side of the double house. That’s why he went to the entrance. “The door was either kicked open or it was just open and I was just in front of her apartment. The relatives that took care of the older woman came out.” Then he went around in front of the side and saw the emergency services coming around the corner. On the 4th of November he had not seen any of the residents while working. He had worked for several weeks on the premises, but not permanently. He thinks that he was there for the entire week of the 4th of November 2011. During that time he had uninstalled and cleaned radiators and done the final cleaning in one of the apartments and renovated. He did not know who lived in the apartment. Only once had he met the residents from the middle floor of the house, at the house entrance; they were two men and a woman. He did not speak with them. He cannot describe them anymore, but had described them to the criminal police [at the time]. He didn’t notice anyone else.
The house was poorly soundproofed. The work had produced the typical construction din, like the removal of walls when he was renovating the basement. He performed this work on the 4th of November 2011. Until half an hour before they left, P.’s automobile had stood in back of the house. Then P. had moved it in front.
Götzl asks about the appearances of the residents from the first floor. Initially, regarding the woman, K. answers with a look at Zschäpe: “its the woman sitting across from me.” Regarding the men K. says.: “Athletic, one with ears that stuck out. He was taller, the other was also athletic with short hair.” Once one of the two came down and asked if he were to throw an armchair into the bulk garbage would K. get rid of it. Götzl asks which of the two that was. K.: “Uwe, the larger of the two, not Mr. Böhnhardt… I can’t remember the last name at the moment.” According to K. when asked, he had seen the Uwe whose name he can’t remember right now several times with a bicycle. Götzl points out to K. that he testified he had seen all three with bicycles. K.: “Yeah, that’s correct, but never all three together, rather individually.”
Götzl asks if K. had any information about the relationship the three people had with each other. K. says he doesn’t remember. Götzl refers him to testimony in which K. stated that a man and a woman were friends with each other. K. says one of the men was always together with the woman and one was always alone. Götzl wants to know which was together with the woman. K.: “I saw the bigger one with the protruding ears with the woman. Which is Mr. Böhnhardt, right?” Once again the questions are about the noise. K. says one always heard the wooden stairs when someone went up or down them or when someone worked up or downstairs.
Suddenly, attorney Stahl intervenes. He wants to know how much longer the session is planed to go. Götzl says he wants to finish asking his questions of the witness and also examine the other witnesses that are present. Stahl says the train he booked is now gone and he doesn’t have a seating reservation anymore and has to get up tomorrow morning before seven. Götzl: “If we’re offering examples already, I was up at four thirty this morning.” A serious discussion develops. Attorney Heer interjects that his client can’t concentrate anymore. Co-plaintiff representative Lucas counters: “Its twenty after five and we still have two hours to try the case. And when the accused is no longer able – a person at the end of her thirties is not fit enough at 5:20… well its not been substantiated.” Götzl interrupts the session. Afterward attorney Heer says his client is no longer capable of following the session. Attorney Schneiders, Wohlleben’s lawyer, comes to the aid of Zschäpe’s defense; her client has a headache. One has to keep in mind the condition of imprisonment for the accused Wohlleben and Zschäpe. Moreover, the lawyers have to have the opportunity to recover their own fitness. Attorney Klemke, Wohlleben’s defense attorney, says that perhaps that’s better stated “if our clients could get some fresh air instead of being paraded around in a basement.” Heer comes to Klemke’s aid on this point. Götzl takes another break to determine if Zschäpe can still follow the proceedings. The break lasts until 18:20. Götzl announces that the emergency doctors couldn’t identify any peculiarities, but can also not testify to anything about Zschäpe’s ability to concentrate. Heer sticks with his point that his client is no longer able to follow the proceedings. Götzl informs the witness K., that his examination will have to be interrupted. Co-plaintiff attorney Rabe says: “It seems to have more to do with the defense than with Ms. Zschäpe. Can we not proceed for a bit longer on the first two trial days, respectively?” Attorney Lucas says that one could take this as an opportunity to discuss the fact that the accused don’t see any daylight for three days because there are no windows in the room. Attorney Stahl: “I have to contradict my colleague Rabe; I’ll gladly be here till ten. I don’t want it assumed of me that we’re using the clients as pretext. I do agree, all things considered, that it would be logical from the organizational side of things if one could, in the future, stick to it that one doesn’t make the last day of the week a long one.” Götzl answers impatiently: “I would ask you, if you take every day we’re in session completely for the hearing of evidence, that we use the time properly.” Rabe: “And may I just repeat that it started with the train and then first afterwards did Ms. Zschäpe get a headache”
The session ended for the day at 18:35.