The First Year of the NSU Trial—A Piece of German History

201401Today the Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin released a special report on the NSU Trial, investigating the neo-Nazi group’s crimes driven by hatred and executed with ice-cold precision. It’s also produced a film—in collaboration with the Film Academy and Academy of Performing Arts Baden-Württemberg and the UFA Fiction—dramatizing the first 71 days of the trial, with actors reading transcripts from court.

The National Socialist Underground (NSU) Trial is the most significant political tribunal Germany has seen since the Baader-Meinhof Group in the 1970s, and the largest neo-Nazi court proceeding ever. The trial, which has been underway at the Munich Higher Regional Court since May 06, 2013, is against several individuals in connection with the NSU—an extreme-right terrorist cell responsible for ten murders, two bombings, and fourteen bank robberies between 2000 and 2011. At the center of it all is Beate Zschäpe, the only surviving (alleged) principal member of the NSU. The two other alleged main members—Uwe Boenhardt and Uwe Mundlos—committed suicide in 2011 after a botched bank robbery in Eisenbach. Afterwards Zschäpe set fire to the trio’s apartment in Zwickau to destroy evidence of their crimes, which include the murder of eight ethnic Turks, a Greek, and a German policewoman in seven different regions across Germany. Zschäpe, who was instrumental in maintaining the NSU’s facade of normality, remains silent in a trial that includes four other alleged NSU accomplices and nearly 600 witnesses and that is expected to last until December 2014.

Because of the complexity of the trial—addressing fourteen criminal proceedings at once—and the fact that the NSU had gone undetected for a decade, it is also a case about everyday life in Germany and its abysses. Journalist Annette Ramelsberger, who’s covered the trial for the Süddeutsche Zeitung, says: “I’ve heard the testimonies of selfish policemen, broken families, and neighbours of Beate Zschäpe who still believe she’s a nice woman. I’ve been impressed by the victims and their families and frightened by friends and accomplices of the NSU Trio, who gave me the impression that this could happen again.”

sz-magazin.sueddeutsche.de

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