The number of fatalities of right-wing violence in Berlin has been revised upwards. One of the cases: the murder of Dieter Eich in the Buch district.
The demonstration on Wednesday in Berlin Buch Photo: Rubyimages/F. Boillot
Ernst Busch, Bruno Apitz, Georg Groscurth: The streets in the prefabricated housing district of Berlin-Buch bear the names of resistance during the Third Reich and victims of German fascism. For Dieter Eich, who was murdered by neo-Nazis on the ninth floor of a high-rise building on Walter-Friedrich-Strasse in the night of May 24-25, 2000, there is no street name, not even a memorial stone. Instead, there is a "living memorial" every year.
At least that’s the view of the up to one hundred demonstrators who marched through the district on Wednesday evening. Their annual commemoration of Eich. Accompanied by a dense police line, observed by a dozen local neo-Nazis and repeatedly disturbed by their chants, the procession moves through the winding alleys with the traditional names.
The sporadic residents looking out of their windows hear speeches describing the brutal murder. Dieter Eich had been attacked and maltreated in his apartment by four neo-Nazis. Later they returned to the scene of the crime and killed Eich with a well-aimed stab in the heart, removing any traces that could point to them. In the later trial, the blows and kicks against the victim had been classified as motivated by right-wing extremism, but not the murder. The murder had merely been committed to conceal the original crime and thus had not been politically motivated. This assessment was also followed by the State Criminal Police Office, which had not counted Eich among the victims of right-wing violence until now.
That changed at the beginning of this month. Based on a new study by the Technical University of Berlin, Dieter Eich and six other people killed by neo-Nazis in Berlin are now listed in the official statistics. Instead of two deaths since 1990, the country now counts nine. This is also the result of long-term research by the Tagesspiegel, which has been collecting cases of deadly right-wing extremist violence across Germany since 2000, as has the Amadeu Antonio Foundation.
Both also make police statistics in other German states appear very incomplete. For example, with the seven additional victims from Berlin, 83 deaths since reunification are officially counted, but the Tagesspiegel lists a total of at least 150, and the Amadeu-Antonio Foundation 193. Most recently, Brandenburg and Saxony-Anhalt had their numbers corrected upward.
Perpetrator and victim perspective
Robert Ludecke from the foundation explains the discrepancy in the counts with the different view of the crimes: "While the judiciary and police look primarily at the perpetrators and thereby depict a rather limited spectrum of motives, the victim’s perspective is particularly important to us. So, what contributed to the escalation of the crime." The official image of perpetrators very clearly emphasizes highly ideologized individuals. "But not every crime with a racist background, for example, is committed by organized right-wing radicals." Racism or the exclusion of undesirable other groups are sometimes deeply rooted in the middle of society, from which violence can and does arise.
The homeless aid organization also contributed a speech to the demonstration in memory of Dieter Eich in Buch. It is sure: "The motive for the crime was social chauvinism." Eich had been homeless for a long time, at the very bottom of the social ladder. By his own admission, his murderers wanted to "slap an ass." The homeless aid organization also points to reservations and aggression even among the middle class, which in turn perfidiously legitimized outbreaks of violence like the one against Eich. The unemployed initiative Basta emphasizes the same point: "Hatred of the poor belongs to the majority society."
Flowers lay the participants of the demonstration at the house in Walter-Friedrich-Strasse, hold a minute of silence. The police officers prevent further disturbances by neo-Nazis here, only shortly before the end of the way they stand on the ramp of a long closed and neglected junk store, shout "Get lost!", take pictures of the demo, which finds its conclusion at the S-Bahn station. Most of the participants drive back to the inner city districts.
Robert Ludecke hopes that the independent documentaries on right-wing violence will help to establish a realistic picture of the problem that is also recognized by the state. The question of how to correctly count the number of victims of right-wing violence is important, he says, if only so that the question of why the crime was committed can be answered for survivors and suspicions that already exist can be confirmed. But compensation issues also played a role. "Ultimately, it’s about making amends for the failure of the state to protect its citizens."