Parties in the German state parliament of Hesse issued a joint statement Saturday to denounce “heinous and disgusting” threatening hate mail sent to the parliamentary leader of the socialist Left Party.
Janine Wissler said she received two threatening letters containing personal information that is not publicly known which were signed “NSU 2.0.”
The NSU (National Socialist Underground) was a neo-Nazi terrorist group in Germany uncovered in 2011 that has been associated with a number of murders and terrorist actions against non-Germans and prominent left-wing figures.
The signature “NSU 2.0” indicates a resurgence of the group and echoes anonymous death threats received by Frankfurt lawyer Seda Basay-Yildiz two years ago.
Basay-Yildiz represented the family of the first murder victim of the NSU.
The police never discovered the author of those letters.
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Party leaders ‘appalled’
Wissler thanked her fellow party chiefs for their message of solidarity on Twitter.
“The democratic parties in the state parliament of Hesse are appalled by the apparent right-wing extremist threats,” the statement said, signed by local leaders of the center-right CDU, the center-left SPD, the environmentalist Greens and the pro-business FDP. The state parliament is led by a coalition of the CDU and the Greens.
“The threats against our colleague Janine Wissler are heinous and disgusting,” the statement continued. “An attack on one representative is an attack on us all.”
The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, the fourth-biggest in the state, did not sign the statement, but their parliamentary leader also expressed outrage at the letter and said he hoped the author would soon be found and face prosecution.
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For years, neo-Nazis of the right-wing organization National Socialist Underground (NSU) killed people across Germany. The suspects: Uwe Mundlos, Uwe Böhnhardt (center) and Beate Zschäpe. Their victims: eight people of Turkish origin, one Greek man and a German policewoman. Their motive: xenophobia. Until 2011, the German public was not aware of the scope of their crimes.
The murder spree was uncovered on November 4, 2011, when Mundlos and Böhnhardt robbed a bank in the east German town of Eisenach. For the first time, they failed. Police officers surrounded the caravan in which the two men were holed up. A later investigation concluded that Mundlos first shot and killed Böhnhardt, then set the caravan on fire and killed himself.
Shortly after the death of Böhnhardt and Mundlos there was an explosion at Frühlingsstraße 26 in Zwickau, in the state of Saxony. Beate Zschäpe lived at that address together with the two bank robbers. Zschäpe allegedly set the house on fire to destroy evidence. Four days later, she turned herself in to the police. The terror suspect has been custody since that day.
In the ruins of the Zwickau flat, police officers found a self-made video in which the terror cell claimed responsibility under the name of the NSU, the National-Socialist Underground. The 15-minute video shows crime scenes and pictures of the victims killed by the right-wing terrorist group between 2000 and 2007.
Famous cartoon character The Pink Panther hosts the amateur video, which is full of slogans of hatred against people with an immigrant background and which mocks the murder victims. Before her arrest, Zschäpe allegedly sent out copies of the video in which the NSU claimed responsibility for the crimes.
Until 2011, the term “döner murders” was frequently used when reporting about the killings. Nothing was known about the connection between the individual cases, nor about the motive. There were rumors the victims were linked to the drug scene. But the NSU’s video left no doubt. The term “döner murders” was chosen as Germany’s “Unwort des Jahres” (doublespeak of the year) in 2011.
“The findings made by our security authorities so far show no indication of a terrorist background, but of a criminal milieu,” said German Interior Minister Otto Schily on June 10, 2004. A day earlier, a pipe bomb explosion in Cologne left 22 people injured and many shops damaged. In 2011, it became clear: the NSU’s right-wing terrorists were also behind the Cologne bombing.
On February 23, 2012, Germany commemorated the victims. At the ceremony at a Berlin concert hall, the focus was on the relatives of the victims. Semiya Simsek (right), the daughter of the murdered flower stand owner Enver Simsek, gave an emotional speech. German Chancellor Angela Merkel made an official apology to the victims and promised them that all questions would be answered.
“Dortmund is a colorful, tolerant and welcoming town – and opposes right-wing extremism!” This statement was made by mayor Ullrich Sierau at the unveiling of the memorial stone for NSU victim Mehmet Kubasik in September 2012. The memorial was set up just meters away from the kiosk in which Kubasik was killed on April 4, 2006.
On November 4, 2012, exactly a year after the terror cell was uncovered, people in many German cities staged solidarity demonstrations against right-wing extremism. The protesters called for thorough investigations into the racially motivated murders – which in their view was not happening fast enough.
Believed to be the last survivor of the NSU trio, Zschäpe went on trial in May 2013. Since then, more than 800 witnesses have been heard. Zschäpe did not speak for the first two and a half years of the trial. Her lawyers, one of whom, Hermann Borchert, is seen here next to his client, called in their final plea for a maximum sentence of 10 years, saying she was not guilty of complicity in murder.
Federal prosecutors have called for Zschäpe to be given a life sentence for her role in the killings. She has been charged with joint complicity in 10 counts of murder, arson, robbery, extortion, the formation of a terrorist organization and membership in a terrorist organization. Four others at the trial are also accused of helping the NSU. A final ruling is expected sometime after June 2018.
Lawyer also targeted
The latest episode of hate mail has drawn comparisons with the death threats received by Basay-Yildiz. The threats received by the lawyer also contained a great deal of personal information about the lawyer, which was later found to have been lifted from a Frankfurt police database.
Several civil servants police lost their jobs but no one was charged with sending the letters, according to broadcaster Frankfurter Rundschau.
A group chat among public servants containing right-wing extremist content was also uncovered.
The fresh threats come days after a Left Party politician was attacked in Bavaria. An unknown assailant tried to attack Stefanie Kirchner in the city of Ingolstadt while insulting the party, according to police.
The Left Party is the direct descendant of the Socialist Unity Party, the governing party in the one-party system of the German Democratic Republic, or East Germany, from 1949 to 1989. They currently have representatives at all levels of government, especially in the former eastern states.
ed/mm (AFP, dpa, epd)