The man responsible for the massacre in Hanau was not only a racist, but also a confused and clearly troubled person. He may have acted alone, but he was part of a global network of web-based hatred.
Mercedes K., 35 years old, a saleswoman. She lived for years with her parents
and her 10 siblings in the Kesselstadt district of Hanau, Germany, a
neighborhood populated by people from many nations. Members of her family, who
are part of the Roma ethnic minority, say they had never experienced any
problems until now, that everything had been peaceful.
Wednesday night, Mercedes K. was sitting in a corner store on a square called
Kurt-Schumacher-Platz, next to Arena Bar, eating a salad. Shortly after 10
p.m., a man stormed into the shop, and began firing shots. Mercedes K. died
one of 10 victims that night of a crime that has once again raised old
questions that are still haunting Germany. Why does the country so often find
itself helpless in the face of the threat of deadly violence from the far
K. was the final victim of Tobias Rathjen, a 43-year-old man who held a degree
in business administration and had trained as a banker. He first shot and
killed four people at Hanau’s Heumarkt square and injured several more before
moving on to a shisha bar called Midnight and a café called La Votre.
proceeded to get into his car and drive to Kesselstadt, where he killed another
his victims were first- or second-generation immigrants.
then drove home and, according to the preliminary details in the investigation,
killed his bedridden mother before shooting himself.
Increase in Deadly Far-Right Crimes
massacre in Hanau is part of a string of crimes that included the assassination
-- in the same state -- of Kassel District President Walter Lübke and the
attempted attack on a synagogue in Halle in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt.
All are signs of an increase in deadly crimes in Germany with far-right
extremist motives. The frequency, intensity and brutality are also growing.
Walter Lübcke was the first politician to fall victim to a right-wing terrorist
attack in Germany since World War II. And the deaths in Hanau have now produced
another troubling benchmark: It has been years since any individual racially
motivated attacker has killed so many people in Germany. The crimes of the past
year have left some wondering if Germany is reliving the kind of terror spree
committed by the far-left Red Army Faction during 1977, famously known as the
"German Autumn,” only this time by the far right - if it is living through
a "German Winter” of 2020.
Thursday, the German chancellor decried racism and hatred as "poison,” but
Angela Merkel had little to offer as an antidote.
here may be united in thinking that "right-wing extremism and right-wing
terrorism are currently the greatest threat to our democracy,” as German
Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht of the center-left Social Democratic Party
(SPD) told DER SPIEGEL. Or, as German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer of the
conservative Christian Social Union (CSU) warned state interior ministers in a
conference call on Thursday night, that there is an "increased danger”
from right-wing extremists. And German security agencies may have been
massively staffing up their departments dealing with right-wing extremism and
improving the measures they take. But the government still hasn’t provided any
comprehensive answer to the complex threat posed by the far right.
of Delusion and Reality
are perpetrators like Stephan Balliet from Halle or, presumably, Tobias Rathjen
from Hanau, who concoct their deadly plans as "lone wolves,” without any
network of allies. They shape their world views according to conspiracy
theories and far-right slogans and, at some point, believe they must act
because nobody else is doing anything.
there are also groups like "Revolution Chemitz” or "Gruppe S.,” of
whose members 12 have been taken into police custody in the past week because
they were hoarding weapons and wanted to spark a civil war and also,
apparently, kill Muslims. They exchange ideas on the internet, stir up their
hatred against anything foreign and jointly prepare for a supposed future coup
against the German government. In their writings, delusion and reality never
seem to be very far apart.
current wave of terrorist attacks is being carried out by perpetrators
experiencing a dangerous convergence of psychological problems and political
thinking. This may not be important to the victims and the family members who
are suffering right now, but it is vital for the greater societal debate.
current political environment triggering these mentally disturbed perpetrators
and encouraging them to act?
particular societal discourse supply the perpetrators with targets for their
were the case, then anyone involved in the public debate – but particularly
politicians and the media – would have a duty to be more mindful about what
they say. And those who fill the discourse with hatred would have to be held
the perpetrators ideologues who have become so delusional they somehow think
that their own inhuman convictions make them respectable rebels?
could be countered with a professional security apparatus, rigorous criminal
prosecution and a vigilant environment capable of detecting when hatred is beginning
to spin out of control.
Language Promoting Deadly Crimes?
the German Autumn of 1977, the terror spree by the RAF plunged the country into
one of the biggest crises in its postwar history. But in the German Winter of
2020, the country has been forced to admit that it has been unable to eliminate
the breeding ground for far-right violence. And the latest crimes have made
clear that merely hiring more staff at the security agencies or granting them
greater powers by law won’t give it the upper hand on right-wing terror. What’s
missing is an overarching idea, a master plan for combating right-wing hatred,
the will on the part of society as a whole to tackle the problem at its root.
pattern is already visible in the recent wave of right-wing terror. Many of the
perpetrators consider themselves to be the executors of a collective will, the
defenders of a West they believe has been watered down by multiculturalism and
is threatened by a targeted "population exchange,” the idea that the ethnic
German population is being swapped out with immigrants.
novelty here is that, as of a few years ago, this thinking is no longer the
taboo it had been for decades after World War II. Today, groups like the
Islamophobic Pegida (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the
Occident) or the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party can
express these views on any town square and any corner of the internet.
Confession letters and manifestos by the perpetrators are often peppered with
the same kinds of neologisms. Within these circles, words like
"Umvolkung,” which translates roughly as "ethnic inversion,” have
attained an almost iconic status. It’s also the kind of vernacular that
promotes these deadly crimes.
makes the current situation particularly dangerous, though, is the fact that
perpetrators have no apparent links to the right-wing extremist scene. From the
outside, some of them may have seemed like difficult people, but it’s possible
that the signs of their deadly thinking could, at most, be detectable on the
internet. Or in places where the lines between delusion, ideology, conspiracy
theories and racial hatred are blurred entirely. As such, it is difficult to
say whether Tobias Rathjen was insanely dangerous or just dangerously insane.
years, it looked like he was on the path to a normal, middle-class career.
Although he completed high school, he already stood out as a peculiar character
at the time. "One of the weirdest people in the class,” a story in an
off-the-cuff newspaper put out by the school’s graduating class stated.
"Tries to be uber-cool and career-focused.” "Often gushes without
substance or goals. Varies between sweet and hyper-aggressive."
his mandatory civil service, Rathjen completed his degree in business
administration at the University of Bayreuth in 2007 after seven years of
study. In a pamphlet he posted on the internet before his murderous rampage,
Rathjen expressed his disappointment at the "reality at the university,”
claiming that the school only "skirted” the question of how to make a
lived with his mother and father in a row house with a long, narrow backyard in
the Kesselstadt neighborhood of Hanau. A housing development is located at the
western edge of the neighborhood with multistory apartment blocks from the
1960s and 1970s. It’s home to a Protestant community center, a school, a
daycare center and flat, terraced houses with garages in-between. It’s only a
few hundred meters away from the site of the second round of shootings, at the
corner store next to the Arena Bar at Kurt-Schumacher-Platz.
say that Rathjen's 72-year-old mother was bedridden, required care and that a
nursing service attended to her several times a day. His father was considered
a difficult person in the neighborhood. People say he was often grumpy,
especially toward people who had recently moved to Kesselstadt. They say he
would complain when somebody would move in near his home who he considered to
be a foreigner.
his father ran as a candidate with the Green Party for the neighborhood
council. At the time, he was interested in protecting trees. Green Party
leaders in Hesse say he had never been an official member of the party and that
contact had been broken off with him.
say they knew very little about Tobias Rathjen. They had the impression he
wasn’t home very often. When people would run into him on the street, they say
he would often quickly look away. At best, you could get a brief "hello”
out of him.
his graduation from college, Rathjen got hired at MLP, a financial-services
provider in Trier, Germany, where he worked from 2008 to 2011. Sources within
the company say he was dismissed because they didn’t feel he was up to the task
of providing consulting to up to 200 clients at the firm.
AfD Wasn’t Radical Enough for Him”
then apparently found a job as a customer-service representative at a company
called Check 24 in Munich, a German shopping comparison portal. He sublet a
furnished apartment in the city.
who have worked with him in the past describe him as a "workaholic” who
put in up to 12-hour days. They say he once got sent on forced vacation
"to settle down.” Rathjen, they say, was "incredibly ambitious,” a
competitive person who even took office table tennis matches seriously. They
say his work was always by the book, but that he was socially challenged. That
he showed no interest in others and that he had "zero” social skills.
also made no secret of his views at work. One former colleague recalls him
saying that the German national football team was comprised solely of
foreigners and that he didn’t consider it to be his national team. "The
AfD wasn’t radical enough for him.”
Munich, Rathjen played football and, from 2014 to the end of last year, he was
a member of one of the city’s most exclusive sport-shooting clubs, HSG Munich.
is very hard to get into. To become a member, you have to submit a clean police
record and also be recommended by two longtime members. Gun club president
Helmut Fischer says he has no recollection of ever having had anything to do
with Rathjen. Fischer says Rathjen had been a loner and that "nobody at
the club can remember any personal encounter” with him.
records, it is clear that Rathjen practiced regularly with small-caliber
pistols, "which aren’t the kinds of weapons that were used to cause the
bloodbath in Hanau.” It’s important to Fischer to emphasize that fact. "We
are deeply shocked and saddened,” he says of the crime.
back as his college days, Rathjen had been convinced that he was being
monitored by an intelligence agency. At least that’s what he wrote in the
24-page pamphlet that he posted on his homepage before committing the crime.
he claimed that he went to the police in 2002 to file a legal complaint over
illegal surveillance. He wrote that no measures were undertaken as a result,
that he filed another complaint in 2004 at a different police station and that
it was once again rejected. Finally, in November, Rathjen wrote a 19-page
criminal complaint to the Federal Prosecutor’s Office in Karlsruhe – the very
agency that is now investigating his racially motivated murder spree. He
directed his complaint against an "unknown secret service organization.”
complaint also includes a number of passages that he used in the pamphlet
posted on his website as well. In it, he ranted about the United States’
strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan and also stated he had never had a girlfriend.
"If I forget for a moment that up to this day I have never had a private
or intimate sphere," Rathjen wrote, "there are several events that
have made world history that can be traced back to my will, and I can also feel
good about that."
is very blatant about his racist views in the text. He listed more than two
dozen countries where he believes "the entire population needs to be
annihilated,” including Algeria, Turkey, Israel, Afghanistan and others. Even
as a young man, he wrote, he had already developed the belief that the
"bad behavior of certain ethnic groups” was a problem.
people are outwardly, inherently objectionable and have also proven themselves
historically incapable,” he wrote of immigrants in the paper. "Conversely,
I came to know my own people as a country in which the best and most beautiful
things in the world are born and grown.” The Germans, he wrote, "would
have elevated all of humanity.” He also wrote that intelligence services could
tap into people’s minds and "take control of them” from a "sort of
remote control.” Rathjen offered similarly strange theories in four videos he
posted on YouTube and on his website. In one of the clips, he can be seen
standing on a meadow wearing a knitted hat and jacket from a well-known German
outdoor brand, with hills and the forest in the background. He speaks freely,
calmly and serenely, his gaze never straying from the camera. He says he knows
it sounds crazy, but some people can "see things that you’re not supposed
to see.” Rathjen appears to be referring to himself.
views appear to have been shaped by forums on the internet that are hubs for
conspiracy theories, where he apparently found "knowledge that is being
deliberately withheld from us.” From the vocabulary used in his writing and his
view of the world, it appears that he spent much of his time on right-wing
forums in the United States, where a conspiracy theory has been circulating for
some time now under the initials "D.u.m.bs” about the U.S. Army building
underground cities, all of which are connected by a tunnel system. Rathjen
mentioned alleged secret military bases in the U.S. And his claim that children
are abused, tortured and murdered there in large numbers is reminiscent of
"Pizzagate,” the fake reports of an elite satanic circle raping children
in the backroom of a Washington pizzeria. An armed man from North Carolina went
to the restaurant in December 2016 to "self-investigate” the matter and
even opened fired. Nobody was injured in the incident.
that, a movement known as QAnon latched onto the theory and continued
perpetuating it. The movement’s followers believe that Donald Trump is fighting
against a powerful "deep state” whose representatives are running a child
trafficking ring. Crazy ideas like these are increasingly seeping out of remote
internet forums and into the real world. Attendees of Trump campaign events
have repeatedly been seen wearing QAnon t-shirts.
perpetrator in Hanau argued in a clearly racist way and you can also find
esoteric bits and pieces from the QAnon movement," says Miro Dittrich of
the Amadeu Antonio Foundation, who researches online right-wing extremism for
the anti-racism organization. "The perpetrator also subscribed to this
idea of a secret satanic network ruling the world."
writings also included ideas from the incel online subculture (short for
"involuntarily celibate"), which appeals to men who are not having
sex unwillingly because they can’t attract women. It’s also a place where they
can give free rein to their misogyny.
Classic Argument of the Far Right
Balliet, the perpetrator in Halle who killed two people on Oct. 9 in a failed
attempt to storm a synagogue, harbored similar views. He said he considered his
chances of finding a woman to be low, mainly because so many immigrant men had
come to Germany – a classic argument from the far right.
unclear whether Tobias Rathjen was directly inspired by any other perpetrators.
But there are parallels to Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people in Oslo and on
the island of Utøya in 2011. Like Breivik, Rathjen may have been someone with a
narcissistic personality who believed his mission was to wipe out part of the
world in order to save it in its entirety.
the kind of lone wolf perpetrator who makes the decision to act alone and then
prepares it meticulously, right down to their a PR strategy. Rathjen posted his
declaration as a PDF file on his own website. It even included a masthead and a
short biography. The address of his website was spray painted in black on the
wall of a house near the scene of the crime.
directed his writings at the "the German people as a whole,” and addressed
his English-language videos to American citizens. He seemed to want to reach
the biggest possible audience. And like many of his predecessors, he had a
message for potential copycats. "Wake up” and fight, one of his videos
far right, some seemed to have a certain amount of understanding for Rathjen’s
act. "Thanks to Merkel’s policy, countless people in the country are at
their wits’ end,” tweeted Daniel Rödding, an AfD lawmaker in the federal
parliament in Berlin who is also a member of the federal expert committee on
digitalization, in reference to the chancellor’s refugee policies.
"Somehow it’s unsurprising that, occasionally, someone really flips out.”
Rödding’s party leadership, on the other hand, spoke of an "appalling
crime,” a "terrible act” and of "the horrendous state of our
country.” But they didn’t see this as a right-wing extremist act, but rather a
crime committed by a "crazy person,” as AfD party boss Jörg Meuthen
described the perpetrator.
lone wolf metaphor is only of limited use in describing perpetrators like
Tobias Rathjen or Stephan Balliet, who are certainly connected on the web and
through shared ideologies.
is part of a transnational phenomenon that has grown stronger in recent years,
not only in Germany, but also globally,” says Peter Neumann, a terrorism expert
at King’s College in London. He says the Hanau killer is "in the same
ranks with El Paso, Christchurch and Halle. It’s always socially isolated men
who primarily radicalize online and then assemble their ideologies on their
own.” In Rathjen’s case, he argues, this ideology is "an incredible jumble
of right-wing extremist ideas, conspiracy theories and misogyny.”
Found Nothing Suspicious
question of how a man with these kinds of ideas and delusions was able to
legally obtain and own firearms in a country with stict gun-control laws like
Germany's will be an issue for politicians and the responsible authorities for
some time to come. Rathjen, after all, didn’t just own any weapons: He had a
nine-millimeter Sig Sauer P226 pistol, as well as a Walther PPQ M2, a firearm
designed for special military units.
been possible for him to obtain them because he was officially registered as a
sports shooter. Even before he joined the Munich gun club, Rathjen trained at
the Diana Bergen-Enkheim shooting club in his hometown of Hanau with a
small-caliber pistol and a nine-millimeter weapon. Club leader Claus Schmidt
says that Rathjen had been completely unremarkable, and that he had never said
anything suggesting he had far-right extremist views. He says that Rathjen had
been a member for nine years, and that he had said last summer that he planned
to go on a "work and travel” trip to the U.S. As a result, Schmidt says,
he hadn’t wondered why Rathjen had been absent in the last few months.
"This is a terrible crime that pains us all the core.”
authorities responsible for weapons in the Main-Kinzig region apparently also
had no doubts about Rathjen’s character. They carried out a pre-announced
inspection at his home as recently as this past August. According sources close
to the authorities, they didn’t detect anything suspicious.
the conditions for having a gun permit is having "the requisite
dependability” and "personal suitability.” Someone would be unsuitable,
for example, if they pursued goals that violated the constitution or were
authorities are required to conduct checks at least once every three years,
although only gun owners under the age of 25 must be thoroughly tested for
their "mental fitness,” and also only for large-caliber weapons. In
response to the deadly attack against Kassel District President Walter Lübke,
the German parliament passed a new law that will go into effect in September
that will require weapons authorities to run any application for a permit by
the domestic intelligence agency, the Office for the Protection of the
Constitution, before it can be issued.
have been several cases in which gun-owners have killed people while suffering
from delusions. In 2015, a 48-year-old man from Bavaria believed himself to be
on a kind of military expedition launched by Angela Merkel. He killed two
people and threatened two others in the belief there had been a nuclear attack
and that he was being confronted by werewolves. In January, a 26-year-old shot
and killed six relatives and seriously injured two more in the small central
German community of Rot am See.
that Spans Class Boundaries
perpetrators aside, there are also networked groups who want to abolish Germany
in its current form. To accomplish this, they are willing to resort to
violence, and, if they believe it necessary, kill people.
five days before the murders in Hanau, the federal prosecutor general exposed a
suspected right-wing terrorist group composed of men from across the country --
from Bavaria to Saxony-Anhalt to the city of Hamm in western Germany. They
egged each other on via Facebook, Telegram and other chat groups, and made
inflammatory remarks about Muslims and left-wing "parasites.” After
several in-person meetings, a plan had apparently been hatched to murder Muslims.
intelligence employees apparently recorded conversations mentioning plans for
"10 men” to attack mosques in "10 German states,” or alternatively,
for two-person commandos to carry out attacks in five locations.
notably, come from very different backgrounds. Some were members of right-wing
citizens’ militias, others were conspiracy theorists and so-called
Reichsbürger, an extremist movement that rejects the legitimacy of the German
government. Others, however, lived in seemingly unremarkable middle-class
environs: One is the owner of a metalworking company in southern Germany. All
were united by a hatred of refugees, of Merkel’s government and of the supposed
Islamification of Western culture.
terror spans class boundaries. It hides in brick-walled houses, bungalows, gray
single-family homes. It can even stew in places like Hummelgautsche, a
historical mill in the southern German village of Altdorf.
Are Going To Happen”
members and supporters of the suspected terrorist group supposedly met at the
idyllic mill with a BBQ area in late September for the first time. Werner S.,
53, allegedly led the conversation. The Bavarian man likes to wear a hat and is
referred to in the scene as "Teutonico.” His defense attorney says
"there was no clearly defined attack target,” and that the arrest warrant
doesn’t mention one.
to the investigators, Werner S.’s right-hand man is Tony E., 39. He recently
lived with his wife and two small children in a bungalow on the edge of a
community in a rural region of the eastern German state of Saxony-Anhalt.
There’s a children’s slide in front of the house and a toy excavator next to
phone conversation that authorities were able to wiretap, he told the leader of
the suspected terror cell that he was prepared to die.
who know him, say Tony E. led a "double life” that they never would have
suspected. Tony E. worked for a care service and shuttled dementia patients
back and forth to the doctor. He also had a low-paid job as a guard at the
logistics center of a large supermarket for 450 euros a month.
E. wasn’t quite so unremarkable. In his care service’s Whatsapp group, he
shared a photo showing him as a member, alongside Werner S., of a militia-type
body called "Freikorps Homeland Security.” On the internet, the group
wrote of "400,000 unregistered migrants” who "move through our
homeland while plundering and murdering.”
believe Werner S. tried to recruit battle-ready men via a chat group in
December. Twenty-one sympathizers joined a closed chat group.
suggested holding a meeting on Feb. 8 in northern Germany. He argued that there
were no more excuses in the new year, writing that "things are going to
happen.” Twelve men traveled to the western German state of North
Rhine-Westphalia that weekend, to the outskirts of the city of Minden.
of the secretive meeting, Thomas N., 55, lived in a house with a gray facade.
The conspiracy theorist and follower of the Reichsbürger ideology was seen as a
hardcore member of the group. In his house, he hoarded gold bars and coins as
well as an arsenal of self-made axes, spiked maces and knives of various
lengths. But the man’s defense lawyer, Daniel Sprafke, expressed doubt about
the group’s "supposed potential for violence,” saying, "My client has
never been known as a violent man.”
to the investigators’ findings, the members discussed potential attacks at the
meeting in Minden, with plans to attack Muslims during prayers in several small
were to be procured by two men from right-wing extremist vigilante groups with
names like "Viking Security Germania” and "Wodan’s Heirs” (a
reference to a Germanic god) and who wore cowls similar to those worn by biker
gangs and T-shirts with a logo made up of two crossed axes. The federal
government had issued warnings in the fall that some of these vigilante groups,
whose role models are the "Soldiers of Odin” in Finland, could become
the raids, investigators found self-made hand grenades and a large-caliber
shotgun known as a "slam gun.” Tests showed that shots from this firearm
could make holes in human flesh up to 6 centimeters (over 2 inches) wide. The
perpetrator in Halle used a similar weapon.
W.’s occupational background is problematic. Until his arrest, the 50-year-old
worked as an administrative employee at the police headquarters in Hamm, most
recently in the traffic commission. He reportedly said he would be willing to
give the right-wing extremist group 5,000 euros, and even more if necessary.
didn’t always have a harmless desk job. He reportedly used to work in the
"weapons licenses” department of the Hamm police. Apparently, he was also
involved in decision-making about who could receive a weapons permit. An
internal investigation is now taking place to determine whether any
irregularities took place during that time.
spare time, the 50-year-old would dress up like a Germanic warrior, with a
sword and rune-covered shield. Colleagues also claim he never hid his beliefs
at work, and they told authorities that he had convictions similar to those of
the right-wing extremist Reichsbürger. They also came across a social media
profile teeming with swastikas and SS symbols. The police in Hamm have since
admitted that they didn't take a close enough look at his individual actions.
the Same from Politicians
the politicians are facing growing pressure to counter the mounting threat from
the right, they are answering it in the usual way: by proposing new laws.
evening before the investigators moved to arrest the members of "Group S,”
two ministers visited the command center of the German terror defense in
Berlin. Behind the tall fences, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer and Justice
Minister Christine Lambrecht listened to the concerns of workers at the Office
for the Protection of the Constitution and of police officers at the Federal
Criminal Police Office. The meeting lasted until 9 p.m.
experts reported that the authorities have repeatedly managed to thwart the
attack plans of right-wing extremists and Islamists in recent years, they
argued that this often only happened by coincidence or because of tips from the
authorities in allied countries.
of the delegation from the center-left Social Democratic Party and the
center-left Christian Democratic Union left with the message that they
shouldn’t expect everything to always work flawlessly, and that they need to
provide the authorities with the resources they need to stop terrorists in the
has now proposed a new law for the Office of the Protection of the Constitution
calling for more powers to be given to the domestic intelligence service. This
is no longer being justified, as has been the case in the past, by the danger
posed by Islamism, but rather by the right-wing extremist terror attacks in
places like Norway and Halle. To discover perpetrators early, it argues,
individuals should be targetable before they are known for having violent
inclinations. It also argues that, above all else, the authority needs new
digital tools allowing it to break into right-wing extremist chat groups and to
read encrypted messages - things like government-controlled software trojans
that can infiltrate their smartphones and computers.
had long resisted calls for these kinds of far-reaching powers for the
intelligence service. But concerns about the deadly danger emanating from the
right are chipping away at those objections.
Minister Lambrecht argues that the intelligence services need to be up to date.
"Generally speaking, terrorists don’t call each other on landlines
anymore,” she says. "This means we need to talk openly about whether
further powers for the Office for the Protection of the Constitution are called
for, so the chat messages extremists are sending each other can be read. In
recent years, planned attacks were foiled largely due to luck.”
development that was once scarcely imaginable, Seehofer and Thomas Haldenwang,
the head of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, have admitted in
recent months that politicians and authorities have neglected the fight against
are changing course. Hundreds of additional positions have been created. But it
will take some time until the new police officers and intelligence workers are
trained. There is an urgent need for more expertise about how extremists
radicalize in the 21st century, how the hate moves from the online world into
real life and data turns into deeds.
last summer, the Federal Criminal Police Office, the Office for the Protection
of the Constitution and the Military Counter-Intelligence Service explained in
a confidential report which digital spheres they believed the intelligence
services needed to make progress on.
to the report, radicalization is increasingly moving from Facebook and Twitter
to platforms that are harder for the authorities to access, like Telegram,
Steam and Discord. In the paper, the authorities also warned about so-called
imageboards like 4chan and 8chan, which perpetrators and mass shooters have
used as platforms – but where the German authorities have made little headway.
weeks after that analysis, Stephan Balliet, a man who was deeply enmeshed in
these digital shadow worlds, attempted to storm a synagogue in Halle. He linked
to the live video of his crimes via an image board.
the very striking parallels between almost all past acts and the large number
of related cases that are currently being pursued by the federal prosecutor, it
is apparent that right-wing terrorism in Germany in 2020 is a problem that must
be taken very seriously,” says Konstantin von Notz, the domestic affairs expert
of the Green Party’s parliamentary group. "We must continue, with all the
necessary determination under the rule of law, to take a much closer look than
has previously been the case at right-wing networks and structures.”
Olaf Scholz (SPD) is calling for the same. "On this, there cannot be any
misplaced misgivings,” he says. CDU lawmaker Volker Ullrich is also wondering,
"How can protection for people with immigrant backgrounds be further
police officers and better methods won’t help detect the criminal intentions of
perpetrators like Tobias Rathjen. The ones most likely to notice that there was
something wrong with him were those who were close to him.
Sense of Mourning
evening, there was a deep sense of mourning in Hanau. Over 100 men assembled at
a local community organization to say their goodbyes to Gökhan Gültekin. The
night the perpetrator carried out his attack, the 36-year-old had been working
in the corner store next to Arena Bar. On Thursday, an imam recited verses from
the Koran, and the men spoke in hushed voices and drank black tea during the
didn’t have an easy life,” one of them said. Several years ago, he recalled,
Gökhan had been hit by a car and fell into a long coma. "He was very lucky
that he survived at the time. And then something terrible like this happens.”
Kocak is sitting in a corner store on a square less than a minute by foot from
one of the murder sites. The part-owner of the corner store next to the Arena
Bar is here together with a few other men.
events of that night have left visible traces on him: Exhaustion, shock,
mourning. He says he raced to his corner store at Kurt-Schumacher-Platz just as
soon as he heard what had happened. "First, I went in Arena Bar, but when
I got there, almost everyone was dead. One or two were still alive and wanted
help, but I couldn’t help anymore.”
Demir is sitting in the back of the corner store on a barstool and leans his
forearms on a standing table on which an empty Capri Sun lies. He believes the
government is responsible for the killings. "Why isn’t anyone checking the
shooting clubs? Why are there no stricter regulations on firearms? Who is going
to be held responsible?” he asks.
Interior Minister Seehofer is visiting the Heumarkt at that very minute, less
than 100 meters away.
Laura Backes, Matthias Bartsch, Maik Baumgärtner, Felix Bohr, Anna Clauß, Jörg
Diehl, Katrin Elger, Ullrich Fichtner, Jan Friedmann, Marie Groß, Hubert Gude,
Dietmar Hipp, Roman Höfner, Julia Jüttner, Martin Knobbe, Roman Lehberger,
Michael Liedtke, Cordula Meyer, Ann-Katrin Müller, Christopher Piltz, Sven
Röbel, Marcel Rosenbach, Lydia Rosenfelder, Fidelius Schmid, Wolf Wiedmann-Schmidt,
Lukas Stern, Jean-Pierre Ziegler