Neo-Nazi group murders nine immigrants and policewoman
Published 16/11/2011 | 05:00
THE discovery of a spate of neo-Nazi murders by a hitherto unknown group has sparked large-scale soul-searching in Germany.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has described the murders of nine immigrants and a policewoman by the suspected neo-Nazi cell as "shameful".
Police now believe that the same group, which has just been discovered by chance, has been active for more than a decade, and may also have carried out bank robberies and a bomb attack in Cologne.
The group only came to light when one alleged member surrendered and two others killed themselves.
The case has stunned Germany, which is still extremely sensitive about its Nazi past.
The case has made headlines across Germany, even knocking the eurozone crisis off the front pages.
Allegations in the German media suggest that one or more of the group may have worked as informants for the domestic intelligence services.
Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich told the daily 'Bild' newspaper there was no evidence to suggest that any of the three had been informants.
Police believe eight ethnic Turks, an ethnic Greek and a policewoman were murdered by members of the hitherto unknown 'National Socialist Underground'.
"It is shameful that something like this happened in our country," Chancellor Merkel said.
"We will investigate it thoroughly. We owe that to the people who lost their lives."
Yesterday Germany's domestic intelligence agency was put on the back foot on how the group that it had been aware of in 1998 could have slipped from its radar and carried out a series of bank robberies and at least 10 murders.
The activities of far-right extremists in Germany have produced a thick chapter in the annual report of the nation's Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution.
Yet despite all the details on membership, crimes committed and even fashion sense of such groups, the authorities were scrambling for information on the Zwickau-based trio calling itself the Nationalist Socialist Underground.
Federal prosecutors are now calling it a domestic terror organisation suspected of murdering the eight Turks and one Greek from 2000 to 2006 and fatally shooting the policewoman in 2007.