‘An Attack on Democracy’: German Parliament Condemns Neo-Nazi Terror - News - International
In recent days, some observers have criticized the German government for not taking a strong enough stand in reaction to revelations that a trio of neo-Nazis apparently killed at least 10 people in a seven-year murder series. But on Tuesday Germany’s political class sent a strong signal that the country was determined to fight right-wing extremism.
In a rare show of unity, members of the German parliament from across the political spectrum issued a joint declaration condemning the murders. “We are deeply ashamed that, following the monstrous crimes of the Nazi regime, right-wing extremist ideology has spawned a bloody trail of unimaginable acts of murder in our country,” the statement read. “Right-wing extremists, racists and anti-constitutional parties have no place in our democratic Germany,” the text continued, adding that steps should be taken to strengthen all democratic groups committed to combating extremism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism. The declaration also called for the structure of Germany’s law enforcement agencies — which are widely perceived to have failed in the case — to be reviewed.
It is very unusual for all the parties represented in the Bundestag to issue a joint statement of this kind. The parliamentary group of Angela Merkel’s conservatives generally refuses to pass resolutions in conjunction with the far-left Left Party, which it shuns because it is considered the partial successor to the former East German communist party.
Apology for Suspicion
In a plenary session, the members of the Bundestag also debated what action should be taken in response to the murders. Bundestag President Norbert Lammert, a member of Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union, emphasized the parliament’s grief, shock and dismay at the murders. “We are ashamed that the federal and state law enforcement authorities were unable to uncover or prevent the crimes that were committed over a period of years,” Lammert said. He added that everyone in Germany had the right to live in safety, regardless of origin, beliefs or sexual orientation.
Lammert also apologized to the families of the deceased for the “suspicion” that had been placed on the murder victims. Investigators have been accused of disregarding the possibility that the murder series, which targeted mainly small businessmen of Turkish origin, might have had a right-wing extremist motive. Instead, police focused on the theory that the murders were related to organized crime, such as protection rackets, betting rings or money laundering — a position that is now being criticized as racist in retrospect.
On Tuesday, Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich, who has been at the center of the current debate on how to fight right-wing extremism, said that around 300 federal and state investigators were now working on the case. He told the Bundestag that the killings were an “attack on our society … and our democracy.”
“We are filled with horror and grief as day by day we learn more about the murder series,” Friedrich said. He promised that the crimes would be thoroughly investigated and that everything would be done to “dry out … the intellectual swamp” that had inspired the crimes, a reference to the far-right milieu that the terrorists had belonged to.