Literarische Übersetzungen aus dem Englischen und ins Englische; literary translations from German to English and from English to German


NSU Trial in Munich - Beate Zschäpe - A Never-Ending Story

July 3, 2013

NSU-Prozess in München "Zwei Jahre später" 20. Juli 2015

In zwei Jahren hat sich in diesem Prozess so viel wie gar nichts getan. Man hört auch nicht sehr viel davon, zumindest nicht hier in den Vereinigten Staaten. 

Derzeit geht's um den Wunsch von drei der vier Pflichtverteidiger von Beate Zschäpe, sich von ihrem Verteidigungsmandat entpflichten zu lassen, weil sie sich nicht mehr in der Lage sehen, die Mandation optimal zu vetreten.

Das Gericht lehnte den Antrag ab. 

Nach zwei Jahren ohne jede Bewegung in Richtung einer Entscheidung wird über die "optimale" Verteidigung gesprochen.

Soweit sieht's ja ziemlich optimal aus. Es gibt kein Urteil.



"Vor zwei Wochen hatte das Gericht nach einer längeren Vertrauenskrise zwischen Zschäpe und ihren Verteidigern den Münchner Anwalt Mathias Grasel als vierten Pflichtverteidiger beigestellt.

Der Vorsitzende Richter Manfred Götzl begründete seinen Beschluss mit der Bemerkung, Heer, Stahl und Sturm hätten ihren Wunsch auf Entpflichtung "nicht einmal in groben Umrissen" konkretisiert. Daher habe er ihren Antrag "zur Sicherung des Verfahrens" ablehnen müssen."



English summary:


Currently, three of the four attorneys assigned to defend Beate Zschäpe want to be released from their mandate because they argue they cannot provide an optimal defense.

The court rejected their request. 

After two years, during which no progress was made in this trial, discussions are held about the optimal defense.

It looks pretty optimal so far. There has been no verdict.




Spiegel Online (German)

 Beate Zschäpe im OLG München: Polizisten sagten über sie aus



NSU-Prozess in München "Keine Tränen, sie hat nicht einmal geschluckt"

Beate Zschäpe schweigt beharrlich im NSU-Prozess, doch nach ihrer Festnahme plauderte sie noch mit Beamten. Zwei sagten nun vor dem Oberlandesgericht München aus, was Zschäpe ihnen über sich und ihre mutmaßlichen Komplizen verriet. Von Gisela Friedrichsen, München.

End of Quote




NSU-Trial in Munich: "No tears, she didn't even gulp once"

Beate Zschäpe keeps silent, tenaciously, during  the NSU-trial, but after her arrest she had still chatted with police officers. Two of them appeared as witnesses before the Higher Regional Court in Munich and testified to what Zschäpe allegedly told them about herself and her accomplices. By Gisela Friedrichsen, Munich.



The article is very important because it reveals something Beate Zschäpe actually said, albeit allegedly, after her arrest and before the trial, to two police officers. I should also mention that while in custody, she wrote a letter to a person that is also known to have been active in the right-wing extremist movement in Germany. In that letter, she expresses affection to that person.  Affection, yes. That means she is capable of it.


My summary of this German article's main points in English:

Beate Zschäpe also talked about her childhood, that she had been a child who had a much better relationship with her grandmother than with her mother. When asked whether new attacks had been planned that could now still be prevented, she allegedly said: No.

She said she called her two friends' parents and informed them that their sons had died. She also said she felt relieved to be able to use her real name again to sign documents.

When asked about her and her friends' upbringing, she supposedly declared that Mundlos and Böhnhardt grew up in stable homes, protected by their parents, and that she could not explain their progression to becoming what they became. That protected childhood of her friends was the opposite of her own childhood, she declared.

When asked if she had thought of taking her own life during the last few days before she turned herself in, she admitted to having considered it but not having had the strength to do it.

When the officers asked her if she had ever contemplated the extent of what was going to happen to her in the future, she  said she had never been forced to do anything.

A few of the defense lawyers point to the fact that a police officer from Baden Württemberg was also present during these informal chats, from the state in which one of the victims was killed. When they press the police officer on the stand to tell them whether and  what they asked Zschäpe with regard to that murder, they don't get an answer. The police officer basically makes it clear he is not allowed to say more, citing regulations. Also, the conversation with Zschäpe was casual, not an interrogation, he points out. Anything she said was revealed by her own volition and it was as much or little as she wanted to say. The officers had assured Zschäpe that they wouldn't use any interview methods that were not permitted.  One of the police officers  said they had been hopeful that Zschäpe would indeed come clean and reveal what happened, especially because she had at one point declared she didn't turn herself in to then not say anything. And she had stated she did not want to be represented by a lawyer from the right-wing extremist movement. Supposedly, she had said that she and her friends had known that one day it would all come out. Now that she was no longer in hiding, she said she was sleeping much better.

She calls herself a "fact-oriented person"

Again, she had talked about her cats and the dog they had planned to get but decided not to because they didn't want to get caught while  registering the dog. The police officer on the stand who works for the Federal Criminal Police Office (Bundeskriminalamt/BKA) said he had thought those reflections seemed to be pretty advanced thoughts for life in hiding. 


My commentary:

The Spiegel article reveals something about Beate Zschäpe's thinking and feelings or lack thereof. While talking casually with the officers, she is concerned about her cats that she had left behind in the building she lived in and had set on fire after she found out that her two friends, Uwe Mundlos und Uwe Böhnhardt, had committed suicide rather than being caught by police. which was happening while they killed themselves. She wasn't concerend about what happened to the elderly woman she knew also  lived in the house she burned down. Does this sound familiar?

It reminds me of the end of WW II and the bunker, and Hitler's fondness for his dog and hate for petty much any person at that point.

Since the beginning of the trial, Beate Zschäpe hasn't said one word but has let her lawyers do the talking.  The prosecution must show that she has been a conspirator in any or all of the ten murders allegedly committed by her two friends (and lovers)  with whom she lived during the time the murders were convicted, six of them in Bavaria.  Evidence linking her and her friends to the murders include a video in which the creators, using gruesome pictures of the murdered victims,  let the Pink Panther comment on the murders and how the police has no clue about who committed the murders, namely not radicals or drug dealers from minority groups in Germany but German neo-Nazis, i.e the National Socialist Underground (Nationalsozialistischer Untergrund/NSU), their organization.  Zschäpe and a few other co-defendants who are also allegedly connected because they bought the murder weapon and gave it to the NSU (the same gun was used in all cases)  all lived first in the eastern part of the country where radical attitudes most recently rear their ugly head.  But terror attacks from the extreme  right have a long history, going back to the 1970's in West Germany. Since unification 1989, the eastern part of Germany has remained under much higher unemployment than the western part. 

Even though one of the accused, namely the person who bought the gun, Carsten S., admitted in court to buying it and kept apologizing for what happened with the gun he delivered to the NSU, his testimony wasn't seen by many of the lawyers of the victims' families as sincere but rather as a strategy to escape harsh punishment. But at least he talked , never revealing his face in court but covered with a hoodie throughout.

Beate Zschäpe, on the other hand, dresses well or casual when in court, turns her back to the media and keeps silent. 

Much went wrong when police tried to solve the crimes for more than ten years, and although there is a parliamentary committee investigating the police's blunders, the findings are a long way off.

But I want to mainly point here to the fact that Beate Zschäpe has expressed affection at least twice, towards her cats and a friend who was active in the neo-Nazi movement. No affection though for the victims, not even for her friends, at least not openly, when their fates were discussed in court.

Therein lies a parallel with what happened during the Nazi-era in Germany.  Remember, the affection people expressed for the Führer but none at all for many millions of their fellow human beings, especially when they were Jewish. No excuse for Zschäpe if indeed she participated in the killings, even if only indirectly. No one forced her to do that, as she herself has declared.  Blind hate against your fellow human being must not stand. Whatever went wrong in her life, every human being must at one point understand that we are all equally human.  Human dignity is the core element of the German constitution, the Basic Law.

We will see how human dignity plays out in this trial.

NSU Trial in Munich - German Constitutional Court rules in favor of Turkish newspaper Sabah

April 13, 2013


Deutsche Welle

"Germany's Constitutional Court on Friday ordered the upper regional court (OLG) in Munich to reserve "a suitable number of seats for representatives of foreign media with particular consideration to the victims of the alleged crimes."






Despite the mainstream opinion floating in the German press that Turkish journalists should absolutely be allowed to witness this pertinent trial, the court continues to abide by its original ruling, which has opened the floodgates to widespread debate on the issue in Germany. SABAH's application to the Federal Constitutional Court is a historical first for German media. There has never been a case filed by another newspaper for not being allowed to enter a courtroom and as a result the German public is widely anticipating what the outcome will be. Television stations ZDF, ARD and RTL as well as newspapers, Spiegel, Focus, Die Welt, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Süddeutsche Zeitung and Bild have all reported on SABAH Europe's case filing and have widely quoted authorities from the newspaper.

End of Quote


My commentary: 

The Turkish newspaper Sabah took the initiative and went to the German Constitutional Court to seek a ruling that would result in instructing the Higher Regional Court in Munich to admit journalists from Turkey and Greece into the courtroom to witness the trial which begins on Wednesday.

It is only because of this Turkish newspaper that the trial will begin with Turkish and Greek media represented in the courtroom. Although the German government had urged the court in Munich to find a solution sensitive to Turkish and Greek media, the court in Munich did not do so, defending itself by stating it was following its regulation for accreditation applications, admitting 50 accredited media representatives on a first-come, first-served basis, rejecting Turkish and Greek representatives because they applied too late.

Although this might pertain to the applications for accreditation that the court received, it is, based on information available in the Spiegel article I quote below, "Gericht räumt Pannen bei Platzvergabe ein"  (in German), not true for the receipt of the accreditation rules emailed to journalists.

Some journalists, and that includes at least one Turkish journalist, may not have received these instructions at the same time others did because their email addresses were mistyped. These emails bounced back and the addresses had to be corrected first before the emails could be sent out again, this time successfully.

The mistake lies most likely with the court where the email addresses seem to have been input wrongly.

Furthermore, quite a few journalists might have known when to expect the email because they had contacted the court and inquired about the instructions. The Munich court's spokeswoman, Mrs. Margarete Nötzel, now admits she might have told a few interested journalists when the email with the accreditation instructions was going to be sent out. Because they knew when the email would arrive, a few journalists probably opened the email immediately upon receiving it and then applied immediately to the court where their applications were treated on a first come, first served basis.

What makes these revelations troublesome is that Mrs. Nötzel had previously stated that all emails with the instructions were sent out at the same time to the media, including Turkish media, even though she must have been aware of the fact that certain emails were mistyped and bounced back which she chose not to reveal in the interview. Her statement is available in a video interview published together with the Spiegel article I quoted in my previous post from April 6th. The video link was in the article but is no longer available there. So I put a link to it following the article link below. Nötzel's statement comes at 00:40 min. Here are the links:

Despite the fact that the court in Munich must have been aware of these mistakes, it stood by its refusal to do anything for the journalists from Turkey or Greece. What does that tell us about the court's transparency and willingness to admit mistakes and fix them?

The broader issue here is to what degree any German court is committed to supporting victims and media representatives with a specific connection to the victims. An additional aspect is the fact that  the Munich court's refusal to act in favor of the journalists occurs in connection with a trial against xenophobic neo-Nazi terrorists. The court in Munich should have considered the rights and valid interests of the Turkish and Greek media before it started the application and accreditation process for journalists. Upon learning about the mistakes that were made with the emails, the court should have restarted the accreditation process or rectified the situation with other means. But it did not do that.

Even if the accreditation process were started by giving everyone a fair chance, the first come, first served policy would still ignore the larger issue of making sure that those journalists who have a special interest in the trial and connection with the victims are given special consideration.

What does this mean for the next trial? Will the victims and their representatives have to act again to ensure what seems to be a common sense and human rights requirement and a duty of the courts - that  journalists representing the same group as the victims are guaranteed seats in the courtroom?

It doesn't shed a positive light on the court in Munich or the German justice system in general when such important aspects are first ignored and only considered when a complaint is filed with the German Federal Constitutional Court.

It is to the German Constitutional Court's credit that it decided swiftly to instruct the court in Munich to admit "a suitable number of seats for representatives of foreign media with particular consideration to the victims of the alleged crimes."

However, it is very much in the interest of Germany and its people to show next time that a certain number of such representatives are guaranteed access without having to first appeal to the German Constitutional Court.  It should be the duty of any court in Germany to avoid discrimination against foreigners or minority residents and citizens in Germany.  And it is important to Germany's image and reception in the world community as a country and people committed to uphold human rights and human dignity for everyone.

We will see on April 17th how the court in Munich will interpret and carry out the Constitutional Court's instructions.




Deutsche Welle

Ein Artikel von Chefredakteurin Ute Schaeffer


Dieser Prozess ist keine rein-deutsche Angelegenheit. Deshalb sind natürlich die Ohren und Augen weltweit auf diesen Prozess gerichtet. Und wir sollten alles daran setzen, dass sie hinschauen und hinhören können. Nur so kann dem in ausländischen Medien geäußerten Eindruck entgegen getreten werden, es werde mit unterschiedlichem Maß gemessen, nicht entschlossen gehandelt oder nur halbherzig aufgeklärt.

Zitat Ende

Der Spiegel

Ein Artikel von Dietmar Hipp: Gericht räumt Pannen bei Platzvergabe ein

Zitat 1:

Was das OLG zu den Abläufen ausführte, kommt allerdings einem Offenbarungseid gleich. So gibt die Pressesprecherin, die OLG-Richterin Margarete Nötzel, nun selbst zu, dass sie manchen Journalisten schon vorab Informationen zum Akkreditierungsverfahren gab: Pressevertretern, die sich in der Woche vor dem Beginn der Akkreditierung bei ihr meldeten.

Ihnen habe sie gesagt, sie hoffe, ab dem 4. März vom Senat die Sicherheitsverfügung zu erhalten. In der Verfügung werden die Bedingungen für die Akkreditierung festgelegt. Den Anrufern, fährt Nötzel in ihrer Stellungnahme für das Verfassungsgericht fort, habe sie mitgeteilt, dass sie die Bedingungen dann "frühestens am Morgen des darauf folgenden Werktages" der Presse nennen werde. Und: Sie halte es "nicht für ausgeschlossen", dass sie dabei auch sagte, dass dies "nicht vor 8 Uhr des dementsprechenden Werktages der Fall sein dürfte".

Zitat 1 Ende


Zitat 2:

Offenbar haben also etliche Journalisten, die mehr oder weniger zufällig in den Tagen vor der Bekanntgabe der Akkreditierungsbedingungen anriefen, zumindest einen deutlichen Hinweis bekommen, ab wann sie ihren E-Mail-Eingang besonders im Auge haben müssten. Und wo nötig, konnten die so informierten Journalisten auch dafür sorgen, dass jemand anderes für sie den E-Mail-Eingang überwacht und die Akkreditierung übernimmt.

Wer zufällig nicht in dieser Phase anrief - und dazu gehörte auch der "Sabah"-Korrespondent Erel - hatte diese Möglichkeit dagegen nicht.

Hinzu kommt: Während wohl die allermeisten Journalisten, die sich zuvor in den Presseverteiler des OLG zum NSU-Verfahren hatten aufnehmen lassen, am 5. März um 8.56 Uhr die Akkreditierungsmail erhielten, bekam Erel zu diesem Zeitpunkt: nichts. Erst um 9.15 Uhr - das hat nun das OLG selbst eingeräumt - bekam er diese Mail, andere womöglich sogar noch später.

Der Grund: technische Probleme beim Mail-Versand. Eigentlich sollte die Pressemitteilung mit der Sicherheitsverfügung um 8.30 Uhr versandt werden, teilte die zuständige Mitarbeiterin der Pressestelle nun dem Bundesverfassungsgericht mit. Doch nachdem sie "Senden" gedrückt habe, "kam die Meldung in einem neu geöffneten Fenster: 'Übermittlung unzustellbar: Fehler bei der Nachrichtenübermittlung an folgende Empfänger oder Gruppen'".

Schnell fand die Justizhauptsekretärin heraus, dass einige Adressen fehlerhaft eingegeben waren und deswegen die Mail insgesamt nicht gesendet worden war.

Zitat 2 Ende


Der Spiegel

Reaktionen zum obigen Artikel:


 Mein Kommentar: 
Ich schreibe diesen Eintrag, nachdem ich schon erfahren habe, dass der Prozess um fast einen Monat verschoben wird und das Akkreditierungsverfahren noch einmal von vorne losgeht.  Es scheint mir, dass das diesmal jedoch weitaus anders gemacht werden müsste, um wirklich eine faire Vertretung der türkischen und griechischen Presse zu garantieren. Wie vom Obersten Gerichtshof empfohlen, sollen mindestens drei Vertreter aus dieser Mediengruppe im Gerichtssaal anwesend sein. Ob dies repräsentativ ist und wie es erzielt werden soll, sei mal dahingestellt bzw. ist derzeit nicht bekannt.


NSU Trial in Munich - Why the Turkish media should be in the courtroom

April 6, 2013


Deutsche Welle:

My commentary:

On April 17th, the trial against Beate Zschäpe from the "Nationalsozialistischer Untergrund" (National Socialist Underground/NSU) begins in Munich. She is accused of being involved in the murder of 10 persons, 8 of whom were Turks or members of the Turkish minority in Germany. The court has refused to admit Turkish journalists because they had applied too late for a seat in the courtroom.

An effort should have been made by the Higher Regional Court in Munich to secure admittance of Turkish journalists into the courtroom. There is no denying that the journalists have a valid interest. The court must find a way to make it possible. Anything else will be interpreted as discrimination of the 4 million German residents with Turkish background and the Turkish media in a neo-Nazi trial by a German court.



Spiegel Online:

Link zum Video, in dem Gerichtssprecherin Ntzel erklärt, dass alle Journalisten gleichzeitig über die Akkreditierungsregeln für einen Platz im Gerichtssaal via E-Mail verständigt wurden, was, wie sich später herausstellte, nicht der Fall war.

Mein Kommentar:

Noch hat das Oberlandesgericht in München Zeit, den Journalisten den Zugang zur Gerichtsverhandlung zu ermöglichen. In einem Verfahren gegen Neo-Nazis scheint es mir außerordentlich wichtig, jeglichen Verdacht der Diskriminierung der 4 Millionen in Deutschland lebenden türkischen Menschen und der türkischen Medien durch das deutsche Gericht vermeiden zu wollen.


Additional Sources: YouTube


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Bernhard Sulzer