1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Concern about NSU murders

Thomas Seibert / ccbFebruary 15, 2013

The German right-wing NSU's murder series is piquing more and more public interest in Turkey. The crimes have shaken the trust parliamentarians and public put in the German state.

The widow of one of the NSU victims is kneeling on the floor at her husband's memorial. There are other people around her and flowers on the floor. (Photo: Bernd Thissen/dpa)
Gedenkstein für NSU-Opfer in DortmundImage: picture-alliance/dpa

Ayhan Sefer Üstün plans to come to the first day of trial for Beate Zschäpe, the woman who is accused of being a member of the right-wing terrorist trio NSU (National-Socialist Underground). "I want to be there to support the victims' families," Üstün, the head of the human rights committee in Turkish parliament, said. This week, he met in Turkey with members of the Bundestag committee that investigates the NSU crimes. The NSU is suspected of having killed eight men with Turkish and one man with Greek background between 2000 and 2006.

Üstün and other Turkish politicians feel they should become more involved in the issue than they did in the past. Although Turkey was in touch with German authorities throughout the murder series, Ankara, just like Berlin, viewed the killings as mysterious crimes- and not right-wing terrorism. 

Similarities between NSU scandal and Turkish "deep state"?

Today, many people in Turkey, including high officials, find they recognize the NSU murder series and its alleged connections to German security authorities from a phenomenon in their own country. The so called "deep state" denotes right-wing bureaucrats, soldiers and secret agents who view themselves as saviors of the Turkish state and are suspected of a number of political murders and attempted coups.

Mug shot of Beate Zschäpe. (Photo by Federal Criminal Office via Getty Images)
As the only alleged NSU-terrorist who did not commit suicide, Beate Zschäpe is set to stand trial in AprilImage: Getty Images

There are numerous on-going trials in Turkey right now concerning "deep state" crimes. "We, too, had to deal with many unsolved murders from the past," Turkish justice minister Sadullah Ergin said with regards to the NSU crimes.

Last week, on a state visit to Ankara, German interior minister Hans-Peter Friedrich from the Christian Socialist Union (CSU) was confronted with the view that the NSU reflected a sort of German equivalent of Turkey's "deep state". Friedrich rejected the similarities.

Victim's daughter also criticizes Ankara

Statements of the Turkish NSU victims' families have lead to an increased public interest in Turkey. German authorities refused to investigate outside of the Turkish community for years, the daughter of one of the victims said in an interview with the Turkish newspaper "Milliyet" in January. They suspected to find the killer there. "Police searched our place after every new murder," Semiya Simsek Demirtas, daughter of the killed Enver Simsek, said in the interview. That was why Simsek Demirtas left her country of birth, Germany, for Turkey. She said the events showed her that she was not welcome in Germany. 

Simsek further criticized that Turkish authorities remained satisfied with the pacifying statements from the Germans for too long. Ankara's interest was only piqued after slip-ups in the investigation became public and the possibility that agents from the German Office for the Protection of the Constitution could be involved with the NSU was put forward.  

Semiya Simsek (r) and another young, female family member of NSU victims stand at a podium in front of the German flag at a memorial in Berlin. (Photo: Michael Kappeler dpa/lbn)
Semiya Simsek Demirtas (right) and another family member of one of the NSU victims at a memorialImage: picture-alliance/dpa

Growing distrust of Germany

In the future, Ankara will watch German officials more closely. In 2012, the Turkish government said in a press statement that the NSU crimes had shaken the trust Turks living in Germany put in the German state. By now, the Turkish parliament registers meticulously the cases of xenophobic violence against Turks living in Western Europe. The parliamentarians counted 15 attacks in 2012, ten of them in Germany. The number of unreported cases is likely to be a lot higher, according to Üstün's human rights committee.

The NSU trial could be a chance to restore lost trust. Transparently and publicly coming to terms with the crimes, with Turkish politicians and the families of the victims right there in the courtroom, will go a long way to do just that. And the announcement that the German investigative committee will publish its final report in Turkish, too, was recognized in Turkey as a sign for the Germans' serious effort.