The 10 murders carried out by the neo-Nazi NSU have shown how the risks of the far right were widely underestimated. In fact, the diversity of the far right makes it a real challenge for the security services.
In 2000, the neo-Nazi terrorist group National Socialist Underground (NSU) shot dead Enver Simsek, a florist with Turkish background, in Nuremberg. It was the beginning of an unprecedented series of murders that ended in 2007 with the death of police officer Michele Kiesewetter in Heilbronn.
Hans-Peter Uhl, domestic policy spokesman for the Christian Social Union (CSU), said the destruction of files by the Verfassungsschutz had probably made it impossible to launch another attempt to ban the NPD on constitutional grounds. "The material that the Verfassungsschutz would now present to the Constitutional Court in an NPD ban is of course more vulnerable to attack than it used to be," Uhl told Monday’s Berliner Zeitung newspaper.
Minister of the Interior Hans-Peter Friedrich on Saturday rejected the suggestion from the German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger that the intelligence service should be made smaller. “This is a sweeping statement that I cannot back,” he said, adding that only by improving the service’s performance could it recover from the high-profile misjudgements it made in connection to a string of neo-Nazi murders – and seeming attempts to cover them up. Friedrich said increased efficiency rather than a reduced size would be key to meeting future challenges.
A state of shock seized thousands of staff at Germany’s Verfassungsschutz, or Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution. Unnoticed by the police, a right-wing terror group had been executing Turkish small business owners for years. Even though the terrorists had been known since the 90s, their worst crimes were overlooked by the security services for a decade. The legitimate aim of the secret services and police, which is to protect people living in Germany from extremism, failed spectacularly.