Institutional Racism as exemplified by the case of the terror group “National Socialist Underground”


Parallel report on the 19th – 22nd Report submitted by the Federal Republic of Germany to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) under Article 9 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (86th session)

Full title: Institutional Racism as exemplified by the case of the terror group “National Socialist Underground” (NSU) and necessary steps to protect individuals and groups against racial discrimination

I. Institutional racism as exemplified by the series of murders and bomb attacks committed by the NSU
The Federal Republic of Germany claims to decisively prosecute racially motivated criminal offences. It also asserts that this includes the recurrent critical assessment of the investigation methods applied by the various agencies and the review of their collaborative investigation efforts. In this context, the Federal Republic of Germany claims that the discovery of the right-wing terror group „Nationalsozialistischer Untergrund“ (National Socialist Underground / NSU) in November 2011 had entailed a critical evaluation of the previous investigations in this matter. In our opinion, this is not the case. This becomes apparent through the circumstances that led to the formation of the NSU, the way the police investigated the offences committed by the group and also through the insufficient manner in which the state subsequently reacted
to these events and circumstances.

1. The racist and extremist right-wing terror group „National Socialist Underground“ (NSU), which consisted of at least three members, is accused of having committed at least ten murders (nine of the victims had migration backgrounds and one murder victim was a policewoman without migration background) and three bombings. The first target was a restaurant managed by a proprietor with a Turkish migration background, the second was a grocery store owned by a person with an Iranian migration background, and, in the third attack, a nail bomb was detonated in a lively shopping street with many shops run by people with Turkish family biographies. The murders were committed between 2000 and 2007. The terror group funded itself by, for example, distributing an anti-Semitic board game, receiving donations from extreme right-wing circles and by committing at least 15 bank robberies. Also, state-funded neo-Nazi-informers working for the domestic intelligence agencies (Verfassungsschutz) supported the members of the terror group with money while they were living underground. The NSU revealed itself after a failed bank robbery on November 4th 2011. Two NSU-members, Uwe Böhnhardt and Uwe Mundlos, died immediately after the failed robbery, and the alleged third member, Beate Zschäpe, sent a video in which the group claimed responsibility for the crimes to various institutions (e.g. media, Islamic cultural centre). The video provides evidence for the perpetrators‘ racist motivation. Denoting the first nine victims as Turks, their very right to live was denied. The targeted execution of individuals and the bombings were intended to terrorise immigrants and to implement the Nazi-inspired,völkisch-racist ideas of the NSU. The NSU was able to carry out its actions during the period from 1998 to 2011 without law enforcement agencies even seriously investigating the option that neo-Nazis could be the perpetrators, and without having to fear any risk of being apprehended.

Together with four other defendants accused of having aided the organisation, Beate Zschäpe is currently on trial as the main defendant and has been indicted for the formation of a terrorist organisation, the murders and the bomb attacks. The security agencies claim that they were neither aware of the existence of the NSU, nor that they suspected racist motives for the crimes before the NSU revealed in November 2011. It was merely established as a fact that the nine migrants were murdered with the same weapon, a Ceská 83, and that these murders thus constituted a
series. However, none of the investigation agencies made a connection between the three bombings and the murder of a police officer and the (simultaneously) attempted murder of a second police officer. Furthermore, the 15 bank robberies were not identified as an additional series linked to the other crimes.

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