Berlin (dpa) – Prosecutors accumulated evidence Thursday at Germany’s trial of serial racist killings of how Beate Zschäpe, the key accused, was an assertive figure inside the male-dominated world of neo-Nazi thugs.
The long-running trial in Munich has sought to expose the genesis of the hate that led to nine immigrant shopkeepers and a German policewoman being gunned down point blank between, 2000 and 2007.
Prosecutors say Zschäpe, 38, was part of the National Socialist Underground (NSU), a gang of three that was only uncovered when its two males died in 2011 in a murder-cum-suicide after a bungled bank robbery as the police were closing in.
Zschäpe’s defence is expected to portray her as a submissive homemaker, but her first cousin, a former skinhead, characterized her in evidence as assertive, though he denied she tended to violence.
Stefan A told the court he never saw her holding a gun in the years she was part of a far-right clique in the eastern German city of Jena, before she and two men, Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Böhnhardt, vanished in 1998 and adopted fake identities.
The previous day, A, 39, described Zschäpe’s life as the “pretty girl” who was esteemed among the brawling city youths who beat up foreigners and leftists. She was never lost for words: if a thug got “cheeky,” she would tell him, “Shut up, or I’ll kick your arse.”
A, who said he was habitually drunk for much of the period, said she was assertive towards Mundlos and Boehnhardt.
“Her character probably held them together. She had those guys under control,” he said.
Germans have struggled to understand how three young people could not only devote themselves to the ideology of Adolf Hitler, but also spend 13 years living “underground” as bank robbers and killers.
This week, the trial also heard how the trio posed as normal holidaymakers at a campground on a Baltic coast beach, sharing barbecues and sailboard rides with the same campers regularly at summertime for five years.
The campers told the court the trio were always friendly and never talked about politics. Zschäpe is charged with setting up a terrorist group, arson and as an accomplice in the 10 killings, which prosecutors say were physically carried out by Mundlos and Böhnhardt while Zschäpe worked to preserve the secrecy.
The trial is expected to last well into next year.
By Jean-Baptiste Piggin