Bloomberg News

Merkel Calls German Neo-Nazi Murders an ’Attack on Our Country’

February 24, 2012

Feb. 23 (Bloomberg) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel called a series of mostly race-motivated murders carried out by an underground neo-Nazi cell over a decade an “attack on our country” and pledged to use all resources to solve the crimes.

Speaking at a memorial service today in Berlin, Merkel steered the focus on the attacks, the motive of which was discovered in November, to the 10 victims. The group, which called itself the National Socialist Underground and originated in eastern Thuringia state, is accused of killing nine men of Turkish or Greek origin and a policewoman between 2000 and 2007.

“The murders of this Thuringian cell were also an attack on our country,” Merkel said alongside candles representing the victims. “They are a disgrace for this country.”

Lawmakers and investigators have pledged to find out how the cell of at least three covert members could have carried out the murders, as well as a series of bank robberies and bombing attacks, without being detected. The crimes remained unsolved until last November, when the bodies of two of the members were found in the city of Eisenach, leading to a trove of evidence showing connections with Germany’s neo-Nazi scene as well as the possible knowledge of government informers.

Saying that Germany is enriched by immigrants, Merkel turned to the debate about tolerance and racism in Germany. She invoked the first article of Germany’s postwar constitution, which declares that “human dignity shall be inviolable.”

“That was the answer to 12 years of National Socialism in Germany, to the unspeakable denigration of human beings and barbarity -- to the breach of civilization that was the Shoah,” Merkel said, referring to the Holocaust.

The murders took place in cities throughout the country, such as Nuremberg, Munich, Hamburg and Dortmund, and targeted mostly men with immigrant backgrounds, such as shop owners. The crimes came to light after Nov. 4 of last year, when the two cell members, identified as Uwe B. and Uwe M., were found dead in a camper vehicle.

The same day, an apartment they had been sharing with a third person, Beate Z., exploded in Zwickau in Saxony. Beate Z. has been taken into custody.

--Editors: Leon Mangasarian, Eddie Buckle.

To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick Donahue in Berlin at pdonahue1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net


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