On 19 February 2021, Germany commemorated the anniversary of the right-wing terror attack in Hanau, in which Gökhan Gültekin, Sedat Gürbüz, Said Nesar Hashemi, Mercedes Kierpacz, Hamza Kurtović, Vili Viorel Păun, Fatih Saraçoğlu, Ferhat Unvar and Kaloyan Velkov were murdered.
In the family history of Filip Goman, the link between the ideology of the Nazi regime and Germany’s contemporary radical right terrorism is clearly visible. Filip Goman’s grandfather was murdered in the gas chambers by the Nazis and a German terrorist, believing in the inferiority of non-white Germans, murdered his daughter. Mercedes Kierpacz, Goman’s daughter, was killed because she was Romani. On 19 February 2020, at around 10 pm in Hanau, near Frankfurt am Main, the terrorist went on a killing spree, specifically targeting shisha bars and murdering nine people in a racially motivated attack. Afterward, he went home, murdered his mother, and then committed suicide. The terror attack happened only four months after a radical right-wing terrorist targeted the Jewish community in Halle, Germany.
Because the perpetrator committed suicide, no trial will provide any closure as there are plenty of unanswered questions: Why didn’t the police receive emergency calls on the night of the attack, and why weren’t outgoing emergency calls from a victim’s phone registered in the official report? Why weren’t the families informed properly? Why weren’t the families asked and informed about autopsies performed on the victims, and why were they not allowed to see their children before? The family members of the dead struggle with the unanswered questions and almost all of them suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
The newly published Hanau protocols on Spiegel International show a grim picture of how the police treated the victims’ families. For example, the autopsy report of one victim, who was blond and blue-eyed, said that he was oriental and ‘Mediterranean-looking’, probably because of his name. Although the families had lived in Germany for decades, they were sent migration officers, interpreters, and foreigner advisory councils. Alluding to the racist stereotype of the vengeful Muslim, some family members of the victims were advised not to take revenge.
A study by the Ruhr University Bochum on the German police confirms the experiences that the bereaved families went through. It shows that Germans from migrant backgrounds suffer in high numbers from discrimination and racism, and in contrast, police officers are not aware that their actions are racist. Shortly after the attack, newspapers reported that there had been a shooting among migrant groups, insinuating “clan violence”. A recent study by Doris Liebscher shows that media campaigns against so-called clan crime in shisha bars are racially motivated and may have influenced the Hanau perpetrator.
In stark contrast to the treatment of the victims’ families, the perpetrator’s racist and violent agitation before the attack has been ignored. The manifesto that the perpetrator uploaded to his website one month before the attack, shows that he was drawn to incel ideology, alt-right conspiracies, and the Nazi ideology of eugenics and racial inferiority.
He wrote about his “own Volk, from which the best and most beautiful emerges and outgrows what this world has to offer,” in opposition to “such ethnic groups that are to be rejected outwardly instinctively and, moreover, have not proven to be productive in their history.” He concludes that there has to be a genocide: “Therefore I say that the following countries must be completely destroyed (…)”. In something that he calls “rough cleansing” he names 24 countries altogether, including Turkey, Afghanistan and Israel. He murdered nine young people (and his mother) among them Germans with a Turkish and Afghan background. He wrote that not all Germans nowadays are “reinrassig und wertvoll” (‘thoroughbred and valuable’). German words, that give anyone who speaks the language a cold shiver because they are so deeply soaked in the Nazi ideology and have cost so many people their lives since 1930. He further mentions that Islam is particularly destructive and thus, he concludes, that certain countries and their populations have to be eliminated. It is now known that he had professional help to set up his website and to upload the content. One must ponder why nobody who helped him to put his deadly ideologies online, saw an offense or a threat.
The perpetrator went to the police several times to file complaints. Among other things, he complained about being followed by the secret service. Due to his baseless complaints, he was hospitalized and treated for schizophrenia. Nevertheless, he maintained his weapons license and went to Slovakia for shooting training.
Since his son committed the terror attack, the father of the perpetrator has filed several complaints with the authorities, many of them with racist content. He has requested that his son’s website, which is filled with racist and inciting content, be unblocked. He claims that the makeshift memorial set up in honor of the victims constitutes incitement of the people and is trying to reclaim his son’s weapons and ammunition from the authorities. He applied for funds from the welfare office for a dog to protect himself from foreigners and now lives with his German shepherd near the family of one of the victims.
There is a clear and present danger from the radical right to the lives of minorities. Jews, Muslims, queer people, and people of color are constantly vocal about the threats against them and how unsafe they feel in the country that is famous worldwide for coming to terms with its genocidal Nazi past.
However, the radical right party Alternative für Deutschland sits in the German parliament and keeps publishing inciting social media content against minorities. Neo-Nazi circles within the German police and military are continuously being discovered. Radical right-wing teachers in schools and lectures at universities are being exposed by students who are targeted by their racism. Germany’s media keeps on using discriminatory and divisive language.
The remains of national socialist ideology have made their way into German institutions, police, military, and schools, and thus into parts of German society, and continue to be a threat. Germany’s commitment to “Never Again” after the Holocaust in education and memorials is one of the cornerstones of the modern state designed to immunize against the radical right. Thus, radical right terror has been downplayed for a long time.
There are roughly 80 years between the incidents in which Filip Goman lost two family members to Nazi ideology, and consequently one needs to ponder the sincerity, effectiveness and meaning of “Never Again”.
Monika Huebscher is a Doctoral Fellow at CARR and a PhD Candidate at the Haifa Center for German and European Studies, Haifa University. See full profile here.
© Monika Huebscher. Views expressed on this website are individual contributors and do not necessarily reflect that of the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right (CARR). We are pleased to share previously unpublished materials with the community under creative commons license 4.0 (Attribution-NoDerivatives).