The long-term research project documents victims of right-wing motivated homicides who are often forgotten and not recognised by the state. The names and short case histories of 169 victims were last published on 27 September 2018 in a combined print/web documentation, supplemented by a list of 61 suspected cases (which, despite intensive research, could not be clarified with certainty) as well as in-depth analyses and reports and an interactive graphic. Only 83 of the deaths are recorded by state statistics as victims of right-wing violence.
The documentation makes visible in a unique way the deadly dimension of racism, right-wing extremism and anti-Semitism since reunification on the one hand and shows on the other hand the considerable deficits in their state registration.
What makes this project innovative?
The documentation has anchored an independent narrative on the actual extent of the deadly violence from the right in reunited Germany: There is no longer any media or scientific publication on the subject in which the figures determined by the long-term project are not mentioned - and the difference to the state-recognized right-wing homicides is mentioned.
What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?
The documentation has also had an influence on politics and law enforcement authorities: The BKA and the Conference of Interior Ministers used it as an opportunity to fundamentally reform the entire police recording system for politically motivated violence. Several state governments arranged for cases to be re-examined in the respective countries following the publications, either by the authorities themselves or by independent academics. Dozens of cases documented by journalists were subsequently officially recognised as victims of right-wing violence. An independent review of old cases in Thuringia will start in 2019. In addition, the long-term research project contributed to the fact that in many places commemorative initiatives have been created that commemorate individual fatalities or cases that had often been forgotten until then with events, memorials and memorial stones.
Source and methodology
The published cases have been extensively researched: Where available, court judgments and files from preliminary proceedings or even archives of local newspapers are evaluated, and the parties involved in the proceedings, such as judges, public prosecutors, representatives of secondary lawsuits, defence lawyers, witnesses, survivors and friends of the victims, are spoken to. One example is the most recent case on the list, an arson attack in an apartment building in Döbeln (Saxony) in March 2017, in which an 85-year-old German pensioner died. Despite court proceedings in spring 2018, the case had not been considered supra-regionally. In a laborious on-the-spot investigation lasting several months, both the Iranian refugee who was the actual target of the attack at the time and gaps and contradictions in the assessment of the case were found. Contrary to the assessment of local investigators, the Saxon Ministry of the Interior considered the attack a non-political arson. After publication in the documentation, this was revised and the 85-year-old was officially classified as a victim of right-wing violence in November 2018.
Frank Jansen, Heike Kleffner, Johannes Radke, Toralf Staud, Steffen Hänsch, Julian Stahnke, Julius Tröger, Sascha Venohr, Naomi Bader