Current Weather
The Spy FM

Discovery Of Neo-Nazi Crime Spree Roils Germany

Filed by KOSU News in World News.
November 17, 2011

Germany is reeling from revelations this week that a small, neo-Nazi group carried out a deadly, decade-long crime wave. Authorities blame the underground cell for the murders of nine immigrants and a policewoman, a string of bank robberies and a bombing. Two suspects are dead and two others are in custody.

The identity of the suspects came as a shock to many in a country that has worked hard to overcome the stain of Nazism. Now, the focus is on the apparent shortcomings of Germany’s domestic security services.

So far, German authorities know of only a handful of people who are members of the group suspected in the deadly crime spree. But the security services are searching for what they think is a network of supporters that helped the group, which calls itself the National Socialist Underground.

They are also searching for explanations of apparent lapses by state and federal law enforcement. Lawmaker Daniela Kolbe, a member of the Bundestag’s Interior Affairs Committee, says there are huge unanswered questions about how this deadly group successfully stayed underground for 13 years.

“Who were the people who supported them? Was there any contact [with] people that were paid by the state, state money? How could they get so much support from other Nazi members? This for me is a really serious question,” Kolbe says.

Role Of Security Services, Informants

Kolbe and other lawmakers are zeroing in on an undercover officer with the intelligence agency in the western state of Hesse. This agent is said to have “far-right political views” and has been present at one and possibly more of the murder scenes. In the case of the 2006 murder of a 21-year-old Turkish-born Internet cafe owner in the city of Kassel, the officer was the only witness who failed to report to police what he’d seen. German media report that when police searched the agent’s apartment they found excerpts of Hitler’s Mein Kampf, which is banned in Germany. He was reportedly known by his neighbors as “Little Adolf.” Yet the intelligence service simply moved the agent to a less sensitive post.

There are also serious questions about the use of informants. In the eastern state of Thuringia, where the underground group was based, a neo-Nazi who was highly placed within extremist right-wing circles was also a paid informer for the state intelligence agency.

Werner J. Patzelt, a professor of political scientist at the Dresden University of Technology and an expert on right-wing extremism, wonders if some state law enforcement agencies were simply being played by neo-Nazi informants.

“We are no longer sure whether our informants are really effective and competent on the one hand, and on the other hand, we are no longer sure that the informants are really loyal to the agencies and do not protect those they are expected to observe. This case really raises serious doubts about how our security agencies are working,” Patzelt says

Calls To Ban Far-Right Political Party

There were calls in parliament this week across party lines to consider banning a far-right political party given the revelations of the neo- Nazi crime spree. The party in question, the National Democratic Party, known as the NPD, is relatively small but active in promoting a racist agenda inspired by the Nazis. Lawmaker Thomas Oppermann, who heads the parliamentary commission overseeing the secret services, said he hopes talk of banning the party is more than political posturing.

“The NPD is an anti-democratic party and parts of it are prepared to resort to violence,” he said during a press conference. “It is an anti-Semitic and xenophobic party that does not deserve to be allowed to operate legally in Germany.”

A 2003 attempt to ban the NPD was thrown out by Germany’s constitutional court, which ruled the party had been so heavily infiltrated by paid informants from the security services it was hard to tell who was pulling the strings.

In the meantime, German authorities have pledged to re-open old, unsolved crimes for possible links to right-wing extremists. [Copyright 2011 National Public Radio]

Leave a Reply

11PM to 5AM The Spy

The Spy

An eclectic mix of the Spy's library of more than 10,000 songs curated by Ferris O'Brien.

Listen Live Now!

5AM to 6AM The Splendid Table

The Splendid Table

Hosted by award-winning Lynne Rossetto Kasper, The Splendid Table is a culinary, culture and lifestyle program that celebrates food and its ability to touch the lives and feed the souls of everyone.

View the program guide!

6AM to 7AM Travel with Rick Steves

Travel with Rick Steves

"Travel with Rick Steves" is a fun, hour-long, and practical talk show with guest experts and calls and questions from travelers. This weekly program is a lively conversation between travelers and the experts as we learn to explore our world smartly, smoothly, and thoughtfully.

View the program guide!

Upcoming Events in your area (Submit your event today!)

Streaming audio and podcasts

Stream KOSU on your smartphone

Phone Streaming

SmartPhone listening options on this page are intended for many iPhones, Blackberries, etc. with low-cost software applications available to listen to our full-time web streams, both News on KOSU-1 and Classical on KOSU-2.

Learn more about our complete range of streaming services

We're perfecting the patient experience - Stillwater Medical Center