By Nicholas Kulish, Globe and Mail, November 13, 2011
Neo-Nazi terrorists are responsible for a crime wave reaching back more than a decade that includes the murders of at least 10 people, including immigrant shopkeepers and a police officer, Germany said. The group is also suspected in more than a dozen bank robberies and a bombing in Cologne.
Two main suspects in the crimes are dead, apparently by suicide. Another surrendered to police, and a fourth person was arrested Sunday.
Much of the evidence on the group came from the wreckage of an apartment here in eastern Germany where several of the suspects had been living. In a scene that seemed torn from a suspense thriller, an explosion and fire on Nov. 4 gutted the apartment, apparently an effort by the suspects to cover their tracks. But police were able to recover a likely murder weapon, along with a gruesome 15-minute propaganda video and other evidence.
The newsmagazine Der Spiegel published still images from the video, including of the bloody bodies of several victims of what became known as the doner murders – a reference to the fact that some of the victims were foreign-born food vendors who worked at doner kebab stands.
The case sent shudders through German society, which has struggled for decades to put the country’s Nazi era behind it. The scope of violence ascribed to the neo-Nazis drew comparisons with the left-wing terrorists of the former Red Army Faction, also known as the Baader-Meinhof Gang.
The killings are signs of “a new form of right-wing-extremist terrorism,” the country’s Interior Minister, Hans-Peter Friedrich, said. Chancellor Angela Merkel said the crimes revealed “structures that we never imagined.”
Racism, whether expressed by gangs from the right or the left, is still racism. Whatever the reasons, racial bigotry is a present reality, no matter how much Germany wishes the stain from its history could be erased.
When people of a different skin colour and a different accent, even if they are attempting to speak the language of the country to which they have emigrated, find and serve effectively in jobs that were previously held only by members of the country's indigenous population, whether it is jealousy, or envy or deep-seated racial superiority, there will be an often physical reaction. And those reactions will be more venomous and more frequent when unemployment rates are higher than normal.
Globalization has seen men and women and their children migrate, often with open government invitations to fill vacant job postings, move thousands of miles, geographically and millions of miles culturally, to find work, to fill those jobs and to take their place in a new society, which may or may not have been prepared for their arrival, likely not.
Ethnic purity is not sustainable in most western countries, while those like China continue to attempt its preservation. We live in times when multiple ethnicities are attempting to co-habit under conditions that vary in their receptivity and in their capacity to tolerate such dramatic changes. Gangs who choose violence to express their own empty version of nationalism will generate, inevitably, government responses capable of supressing such violence. Whether those responses will go toward eliminating such bigotry as well is doubtful. It will only be after a considerable periond of time when those entering from outside demonstrate their willingness to "fit it" that such violent responses to their presence will be mediated. In the meantime, we will continue to witness these vain attempts at ethnic cleansing.