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Reports: Informant employed neo-Nazis

Sean SinicoApril 7, 2016

Two members of the National Socialist Underground were employed by a security services informant, German media reported. The news has led some to question how much authorities knew about the neo-Nazi group.

NSU-Prozess zweiter Auftakt Beate Zschäpe OVERLAY GEEIGNET
Image: Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach

While they were suspected of planning and carrying out racially motivated murders and arson attacks, two members of the neo-Nazi group National Socialist Underground were employed by a man who was providing information on the far-right scene to Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), Germany's domestic intelligence agency, according to reports published Thursday by the German news agency dpa and "Die Welt" newspaper.

Ralf Marschner employed alleged far-right terrorist Beate Zschäpe at "Heaven and Hell," a store in the eastern German city of Zwickau with a mainly far-right clientele, dpa reported. One of Marschner's partners, who went unnamed in the dpa report, said he did not want to talk on the phone about whether Zschäpe worked at the store, however, he also added, "I did not say no."

Zschäpe is currently on trial in Munich and charged with membership in a terrorist organization and for having a role in 10 murders. The murders, which occurred over a span of seven years, are reported to have partially overlapped with her time in Zwickau.

What did authorities know?

According to a report in German daily "Die Welt," Marschner also employed Uwe Mundlos, who along with Zschäpe and Uwe Böhnhardt are accused of forming the NSU's inner circle. Mundlos is thought to have played a key role in the 10 murders and later committed suicide with Böhnhardt after a police caught their trail following a botched robbery in November 2011. It was not until the failed robbery that German authorities solved any of the 10 murders or cases of arson connected to the NSU.

According to police notes made during interrogations of Marschner quoted in "Die Welt," Marschner knew the construction company he ran employed neo-Nazis and skinheads but maintained that he never knowingly hired Mundlos or other NSU members. The paper, however, goes on to cite documents and witnesses showing a relationship between Marschner and Mundlos, who was using a false identity at the time.

Zwickauer Zelle Fahndungsfotos
Authorities were unaware of the NSU members' location until a failed robbery brought police to their doorImage: picture-alliance/dpa

Information that an intelligence services informant reportedly had direct contact with Mundlos, as reported by "Die Welt," rekindles questions of whether German security authorities were aware of the NSU's activities.

A BfV spokesperson did not comment on the dpa report. BfV President Hans-Georg Maassen told "Die Welt" that according to the information available to his office at the time there was no indication Mundlos worked for the office's informant.

The BfV stopped using Marschner for information in 2002 and he allegedly left the country in 2007. "Die Welt" reported that he lived in Switzerland and worked across the border in Lichtenstein, where a team of reporters found him.

Marschner has not been called on to testify in any of the 11 state inquiries into the NSU, "Die Welt" said.