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Memorial ceremony

February 23, 2012

With a memorial ceremony in Berlin, Germany remembered victims of right-wing terrorists. Family members and Chancellor Angela Merkel found the right words, says DW's Alexander Kudascheff.

--- DW-Grafik: Peter Steinmetz

It was a moving, touching memorial ceremony that went under your skin. Ten people were remembered - eight Turks, one Greek and a police officer. All of them were victims of a neo-Nazi cell. The group of terrorists performed an unprecedented series of murders. They did not simply murder people living in this country; they executed them and filmed their agony. And they did this undetected for more than 10 years.

This is an intolerable example of failure for all German authorities. No one ever thought that the victims could have been murdered by right-wing terrorists - not even the media. The victims were believed to have been associated with the mafia or other criminal groups. Their loved ones were so tortured by allegations that they were unable to mourn - until now and way too late and only because the terror cell was accidentally discovered.

Today was devoted to the victims, to the ten people who were murdered, the 25 people who were injured and all the other victims of violence. They were remembered by an eleventh candle symbolizing the hope that such a series of murders would never happen again. It was a day to remember those murdered by the terror cell and the feelings of their loved ones - their bitterness, pain and despair because no one believed them.

Two daughters spoke of their suffering, a father of his son's struggle with death. They shared their pain in a simple, touching, moving way. They also spoke of life in their home country, Germany, and how they perceived it. In Turkish, the father thanked "his" chancellor for her understanding and sympathy. What a gesture, so powerful and human in its helplessness. And he also thanked former German President Christian Wulff, who had initiated the memorial ceremony and closely oversaw its preparation.

Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke in place Wulff who resigned last week. She was full of empathy for the victims and disgust for the offenders, resentful of the way the terror cell had presented itself in the Internet. She was shocked by the failure of the authorities, of their one-sidedness and incapability - such a disgrace for Germany.

Today, Germany remembered the 10 victims in the Concert House at Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin. There was a minute of silence in all of Germany, from north to south and east to west. It was a necessary, proper gesture to show the deep shock that has overcome the country from the murder of ordinary people. The shock over the failure of the authorities, the shock over the fact that these murders were even possible.

Against this backdrop, Angela Merkel urged society and Germans to be vigilant against all types of racism and xenophobia, no matter how small or big, whether in politics or everyday life. Those who want an open society must overcome indifference toward their enemies.

That is the reminder of today and of this memorial ceremony. That is the reminder to silent Germans. All of us must fight indifference.

Author: Alexander Kudascheff /jrb
Editor: Gabriel Borrud