In the Munich trial room, the focus continues to be on the nail bomb attack in the Keupstrabe in Cologne. Several witnesses described what happened.
Protest poster with names of the victims of the Cologne attack in front of the Munich Higher Regional Court. Photo: reuters
The 176th day of hearings in the NSU trial began as others so often do: fast-stepping, the main defendant Beate Zschape entered Hall A 101 of the Munich Higher Regional Court, turned away from the cameras. But one thing was different on this day: many of those affected by the Keupstrabe bombing looked down at her from the gallery. Nine victims of the attack in Cologne were to testify in court. Relatives and friends accompanied them.
"The first impression was like war. Everything broken, everything destroyed," Fatih K. said Wednesday in Munich. He was with his mother in Kneupstrabe at the time of the attack. She wanted to go shopping, he wanted to cut hair. The now 29-year-old went to the hair salon "oczan". What he didn’t know: NSU members Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Bohnhardt had parked a bicycle with a nail bomb in front of the store.
When the bomb exploded with over 700 carpenter’s nails, Fatih K. was sitting at the window facing the street, on a sofa. He was only slightly injured in the back of the head, but his hearing is impaired to this day. Other people suffered serious injuries, such as Emine K., who was in a card store at the time of the explosion. It was not the nails that hit her, but the blast wave damaged her hearing. In shock, the 47-year-old woman extinguished the burning legs of a man. Another victim, jeweler Metin I., said that if a black box bus had not been parked in the street, he would not have been hit by a mere three nails. His store is diagonally across the street from the hair salon. "There could have been fatalities," the 58-year-old said.
All witnesses are still struggling with physical consequences today. The constant reporting would not make it easier for them since the accidental bust of the NSU core trio on November 4, 2011. To this day, he is sometimes afraid when someone with a bicycle or backpack stands in front of his store, Metin I. said, "Then I think: Could something happen there again?"
Fatih K. was not the only one who said the direction of investigation was quickly established. At his interrogation, the only one, police only wanted to know if he could say something about the red-light milieu and the PKK – and about criminal activities. They also took his fingerprints and DNA. Hasan Y., who did hair in the store, was more explicit: "I was treated like an accused. He had suffered cuts to his head and forearm from the explosion. He did not receive the police protection he requested. Instead, he was under surveillance. He told the police that one of the perpetrators wore blond sideburns. An officer is said to have intervened immediately: "Couldn’t he have been a dark-skinned man?".
Even before the statements, the "Initiative Keupstrabe is Everywhere" had supported those affected – precisely because they had been turned into perpetrators by the investigators. Mitat ozdemir, co-founder of the initiative, was pleased to see so many people attending the hearings in Room A 101. He was also pleased that more than 1000 people took part in the demonstration the night before.
One of the speakers was Alexander Hoffmann, lawyer of a victim in the Keupstrabe. This attack reveals most clearly the terrorist intention of the NSU, Hoffmann said. Many people were to be hit unexpectedly by the nail bomb. A hint about a participation of the co-defendant Ralf Wohlleben in this attack had caught his eye. On the Internet, Wohlleben, who supplied one of the murder weapons, sold similar components from the same manufacturer that had been used for the remote detonation of the bomb. Not solid evidence, but circumstantial.