Police in the eastern German city of Zwickau announced Sunday that a second memorial dedicated to the first victim of the National Socialist Underground (NSU), a German right-wing extremist terror group, had been vandalized. The destruction took place in the night between Saturday and Sunday.
The memorial, a wooden bench, had been set up at the sight of a previous memorial, an oak tree, which had been sawed down earlier this week. The bench had been put there to replace it.
Both memorials were dedicated to Enver Simsek, a flower seller with Turkish roots who was killed in Nuremberg by the NSU in 2000. He was the first of 10 people to be murdered by the NSU in anti-immigrant killings between 2000-2007.
The vandalism is being investigated as a politically motivated act. German politicians, including Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government spokesman, Steffen Seibert, have condemned the memorials’ destruction as shocking displays of intolerance.
In 2016 a different memorial to the victims of the NSU in Zwickau was also vandalized.
Zwickau: The NSU’s hideout
Zwickau, located near the Polish border in the state of Saxony, was where the NSU terror cell lived underground for many years. The state has a history of being home to strong far-right factions.
The NSU, made up of Uwe Mundlos, Uwe Böhnhardt and Beate Zschäpe, was uncovered by chance in 2011 during a botched robbery. Mundlos and Böhnhardt killed themselves in an apparent murder-suicide shortly after being uncovered.
The murders perpetrated by the group and the resulting court case against Zschäpe, the group’s only surviving member, led to accusations that German authorities had repeatedly failed to take the threat of right-wing violence seriously.
The same criticism has been aimed at the government in recent months as Germany has experienced an uptick in violence and threats from far-right extremist groupings and individuals. German politician Walter Lübcke was murdered in June in the central state of Hesse in what is being treated as a politically motivated act. Lübcke had spoken out in support of Merkel’s open refugee policy.
cmb/sms (epd, dpa)