No lessons learned: Still blind in the right eye
In the course of ten years, the NSU is alleged to have carried out at least ten murders in various locations around the country, with the vast majority of their victims being of migrant background. The German secret services and the police came under heavy criticism for not having detected the criminal group’s presence.
According to the report, it is most likely, based on the unbelievable number of „mistakes“ committed by the investigative agencies, that the investigation of these various crimes was intentionally sabotaged. Since the series of killings by the NSU has come to light, a terrifying politics of concealment became obvious: Shredded files, consistent covering up, refusal to give testimony in the parliamentarian hearing, mysterious deaths, and hardly any prosecution of those responsible. In this context it is necessary to remember that German secret services were established by convinced Nazis and SS-men after World War II. German authorities have tradionally played down the existence of right-wing extremism, concentrating instead on the threats posed by left-wing and Islamic extremism.
You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to see that there is something rotten in the state of Germany. The whole episode highlights that institutional racism and right-wing extremism is a much bigger problem in Germany than the authorities like to admit („series of mishaps and individual glitches.“). Unfortunately, there are little signs of change at the moment. The shocking revelations surrounding the NSU haven’t made authorities more sensitive. There’s no big commitment to root out the problem. Unlike the left-wing terrorism of the Red Army Fraction (Baader-Meinhof Group) that threw Germany into a national trauma in the 1970s, the threat of the far-right has not become a major theme in the public debate. Right-wing extremism is still seen as being completely marginal and that the problem will resolve itself, even though right-wing extremism has a long continuity in Germany.
Since the Oktoberfest terror attack in 1980 and the racist murders and pogroms in Rostock, Mölln, Solingen and Hoyerswerda in the beginning of the ’90s, nearly 200 people had been killed by right-wing violence. Journalists and human rights organizations even believe that the number of those killed by right-wing extremists is double the official figure. Nevertheless, not even half of these murders have been officially recognized as victims of the far right, since racial incitement and hate speech is only punishable when found to have „disturbed the peace“(…).
The trivialization of right-wing extremism in Germany has helped to foster the spread of the far right. Their biggest achievement is not their presence in regional parliaments but the fact that among immigrants, some areas in the country (and not only in the east) are seen as no-go areas. The state and the police haven’t managed to change this climate in two decades. Today, right-wing extremists in Germany are if anything more brazen and inspired after the NSU „discovery“. And the time seems „right“: The rising xenophobic atmosphere in the country (mainly targeted towards Muslims, Roma and asylum seekers) provides fertile ground for further growth of the scene. German police registered 11,761 criminal offenses motivated by right-wing extremism in 2013 (the actual number is even expected to climb, as many incidents might not have been registered yet). A recent government survey further concluded that neo-Nazis were „younger, more violent and more militant“ than the rest of the population. Groups similar to the NSU are likely to appear again as Germany continues to be blind in the right eye….