In Germany, a Neo-Nazi Trial Has Troubling Undertones

Guardian report suggests nation allows these groups to thrive
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 15, 2016 1:44 PM CST
In Germany, a Neo-Nazi Trial Has Troubling Undertones
Terror suspect Beate Zschaepe arrives in the courtroom in Munich, Germany, Tuesday, Nov. 8.   (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

A criminal trial underway in Germany is straightforward enough: A woman named Beate Zschaepe is accused of helping two Neo-Nazi male friends pull off a string of immigrant murders over several years beginning in 2000. The two men are dead and the 41-year-old Zschaepe, who faces life in prison, says she played no role in the killings. After 2.5 years of no comment, she apologized in a statement read in court last week, per the Telegraph. "I feel morally guilty that I could not prevent 10 murders and two bombings." The case is about far more than Zschaepe, however, reports the Guardian, which explores how the trial raises troubling questions about Germany's ability, or even desire, to crack down on Neo-Nazi groups. It's not just that investigators bungled the investigation, wrongly thinking for years the murders were linked to the Turkish mafia. It's that investigators have shown no interest in looking beyond Zschaepe into the network of extremist groups that appeared to have aided the spree.

The story suggests that Germany's domestic intelligence agency, the BfV, essentially has turned a blind eye to such groups, leaving "a thriving underground culture of rightwing extremism untouched." One hard-to-explain nugget: At one of the murders, an undercover BfV agent was actually in the cafe at the time but failed to report his presence. When it eventually came to light, he would insist he saw nothing. The story sees "a telling contrast" with Germany's efficiency in going after aging Nazis from WWII and the lack of zeal in prosecuting current Nazis. Click to read the full report, which details the rise of the movement in general and, more specifically, the gradual progression toward violence of the two men associated with Zschaepe. (Read more Longform stories.)

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