German terror group had bigger targets in their sights
A far-right Baader-Meinhof Gang?:
Neo-Nazi terrorists Beate Zschäpe, Uwe Böhnardt,
and Uwe Mundlos of the "National Socialist Underground"
NEW EVIDENCE IN THE case of the self-styled “National Socialist Underground,” which is suspected for at least ten murders and dozens of other violent actions throughout Germany over the past fourteen years, suggests that the terrorist trio from Thuringia may have been planning to move from random acts of murder against foreigners and police officers to targeted killings of public figures. Police have uncovered a possible death list containing eighty-eight names of influential German and foreign individuals, including those of two Bundestag members: conservative Christian Social politician Hans-Peter Uhl and Green parliamentarian Jerzy Montag. The list was apparently compiled in 2005. Experts on Germany’s radical right place particular significance on the number eighty-eight. The eighth letter in the alphabet is “H.” “88” is thus neo-Nazi shorthand for “Heil Hitler.”
The group appears to have had an affinity for acronyms: the vanity plate on their car read “J-AH 41.” “J” is the standard issue initial for their hometown of Jena. "AH" stood for “Adolf Hitler” and “41” for 1941, the year of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union.
In the meantime, the controversy over the apparent failure of the country’s national police force and its “Constitutional Defence” agency to connect the dots in the case is mushrooming, with a crisis meeting of all responsible authorities scheduled for Berlin this Friday. Reforms may include a central neo-Nazi register designed to keep track of extremists. No doubt the perennial effort to ban the hapless radical right-wing National Democratic Party – thus driving nearly all neo-Nazi activity underground instead of leaving it on the surface, where voters can ignore the party at the polls – will get another political shot in the arm.
Federal President Christian Wulff is considering a public memorial service for the terror group’s mostly foreign victims. Such a symbolic act could go a long way toward changing public opinion. As much as most Germans despise neo-Nazis, regarding them as nothing short of subhuman for their hideous ideology and for the ruin their spiritual forebears brought upon Germany and Europe between 1933 and 1945, Muslims and other immigrants are not particularly popular either, and, since very few have voting rights, they are hardly regarded as an important constituency. For example, a runaway bestseller by economist Theo Sarrazin last year blamed Muslim immigrants for making Germany "poorer and stupider." While Sarrazin certainly never urged Germans to shoot Turkish kebab stand owners in the head, his message couldn't be clearer: Muslims are not really part of German society. Last year even Chancellor Merkel announced that "multiculturalism has failed." Public recognition of the depth of the tragedy could have an impact on this potentially dangerous mentality.
One of the two male terrorists robbing
a bank in the Saxon town of Zwickau in 2001
The latest word is that terrorist Beate Zschäpe, the only surviving member of the group, who turned herself in to police on November 8, is preparing to make a full statement on the group’s plans and her involvement with it. It is very possible that many of the questions the public has been wrestling with for the past fourteen years may soon find answers. These questions include: What motivated the group and what did they hope to accomplish? Who supported them? Why did they maintain absolute secrecy instead of publicizing their deeds? Why did they shoot the two seemingly uninvolved police officers? Why did they select the Pink Panther as the symbol of their "movement"? What contacts - if any - did they have with government informants?
However, nothing Zschäpe can say will explain how such a radical and bloodthirsty group could have operated in secret for so long. That is something for the ministers meeting on Friday, along with the independent press, to figure out for themselves.