Documenting right-wing terror: A center for NSU investigation

Documenting right-wing terror: A center for NSU investigation

The traffic light presents a feasibility study for an NSU documentation center. It is intended to address the state’s failure.

Commemoration of NSU victim Mehmet Turgut in Rostock on February 25th: There is currently no central memorial and documentation location Photo: Frank Hormann/dpa

BERLIN taz | In its coalition agreement, the traffic light promised to “vigorously push forward” the investigation into the NSU terror. Now a project planned for this purpose is to take concrete form: an NSU documentation center. On behalf of the Federal Ministry of the Interior, the Federal Center for Civic Education has now presented a feasibility study, which was presented to relatives of the victims’ families on Wednesday. The first steps are expected to take place this year.

The 43-page study, which is available to the taz, formulates three goals for the center: This should become a place “for the critical analysis of the NSU complex”. This also includes addressing the “comprehensive failure of the state, its security authorities and social control mechanisms”. Secondly, the NSU terror should be classified in the history of German right-wing terrorism since 1945 – where there has been a “gap” in the memorial landscape, as the study admits. Thirdly, the center should become a place of remembrance for the murder victims.

To implement the NSU Documentation Center, the study recommends the establishment of a public foundation as the sponsor. The traffic light has already budgeted 500,000 euros for the center in the current budget, which will finance a development staff of 15 employees. The study already estimates costs of 9.4 million euros for next year. The center should be completed by 2027 and the permanent exhibition should be set up by 2030. In the long term, 45 employees are planned.

The core of the center will be the permanent exhibition, which will be supplemented by temporary exhibitions. The aim is to take a “unique perspective” in this country and to highlight the special nature of the NSU complex, according to the study: the years-long failure of the security authorities and a “special focus on the perspectives of the victims”. The first NSU traveling exhibition is to be shown in various cities this year – and will later be included in the permanent exhibition.

Which place is safe for migrants?

In addition, the center will also receive an archive in which files from the NSU investigative committees and the NSU trial before the Munich Higher Regional Court will be stored. Cooperation with civil society, anti-fascist archives is also desired. The traffic light has already initiated the plan for a right-wing terror archive: This will initially be digital and will start in November of this year.

Additional historical-political education offerings and a “digital space” are also planned for the documentation center. The feasibility study also suggests a funding program for researchers and civil society groups that are active on the topic.

The study still leaves the location for the NSU documentation center open. It is said that many cities that have a connection to the NSU come into question here. The decisive factors for the location are a “political signaling effect”, existing structures to which the center could dock, the visitor potential and security for migrants.

There may still be discussions about this. The black-red-green government in Saxony had already agreed on an NSU documentation center in its coalition agreement in 2019 and had already presented a feasibility study through civil society organizations last year.

The proposal there: A center in Chemnitz and Zwickau, where the underground NSU trio Beate Zschäpe, Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Böhnhardt lived for years and from where they committed their ten murders, three attacks and 15 robberies. The topping-out ceremony for a provisional NSU documentation center, which will be set up as part of the “Culture Capital 2025”, will also be celebrated in Chemnitz in June.

Relatives of the victims’ families support the plan for an NSU documentation center. However, they reject Chemnitz and Zwickau as locations: for them, these are “perpetrator cities” in which they do not feel safe, the ombudswoman for the families, Barbara John, recently told the taz. The families would prefer central cities such as Berlin or Munich, which would also have a broader audience. The feasibility study appeals that “the concerns of those affected should be taken into account when choosing a location.” The decision should be made this year.


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