Yes, There Have Been Neo-Nazi Murders

Not here, perhaps, but in Germany (where neo-Naziism is even more of a fringe activity than it is in North America). And the funny thing is this: as a small group of low-rent serial killers who were on the police’s radar committed almost a dozen shootings, including ten murders, over seven years, the police clung to an idée fixé of who the killers would be: a completely wrong idea.

It took blind luck, and a confession out of the blue, to break the case; it took an examination of this firearm to confirm that the break was the right one.

Germany today still has essentially the same police organizations and traditions that existed under the Weimar Republic, and that the Nazis co-opted into their 12-year police state, and that were denazified under the Bonn republic. They have always had all the policies that all European centralizers have long associated with proper order and social control: national identity documents, police registration of persons, strict (and ever-tightening) firearms laws, centrally managed police, and crime labs where no expense was spared.

None of this helps if (1) your murderers are reasonably careful, (2) avoid exposure to the grid where possible, and (3) aren’t the murderers you expect to be looking for.

When a spate of brutal murders of Turkish immigrants kicked off in the early oughts, the police were taken aback by the violence of the attacks: in most cases, two men faced the victim and shot him multiple times in the face with a suppressed pistol. The murders looks like gangland hits, with an unusual twist: the killers kept using the same gun, something pros generally don’t do. (A previously used murder weapon is pretty much the pinnacle of “incriminating evidence,” after all).

The Federal Government’s highly efficient crime labs made excellent use of ballistics evidence. They determined that two handguns were used in the murders, one in 6.35 mm caliber (.25 ACP for us Yankistanis) and one in 7.65 mm (.32 ACP). Those were the two calibers most widely distributed in Europe in the years before gun control became universal, and pistols firing them had been made in the millions from 1900 to the present day. Two world wars, the chaotic collapse of Communist dictatorships, and the sanguinary Balkan wars of the 90s all combined to scatter pistols far and wide.

But the Germans caught a lucky break. The recovered pistol slugs tied some shootings to a very generic 6.35 mm pistol, but evidence let them tie nine of the killings — almost all of them — to a single .32 pistol. (Some victims were shot with both pistols). This was of limited use to them, without a suspect or suspected murder weapon in custody. But they learned something not just from the unique characteristics of the slugs fired in that pistol, but also from the class characteristics: the bore diameter as impressed on the bullet, and the unique pattern of lands and grooves marked there, revealed that the pistol was a rarity, a Czech CZ-83. (The .32 ACP’s page in firearms identification books is chaos: some .32s have right turns, some left; some a .308 barrel, some .311; some five lands, some six; and some one turn in 240 mm, some 250 — roughly 10″ — and some 400 mm, roughly 16″. The combination of characteristics impressed on the murder slugs fingered only one specific firearm, the 1:250mm RH CZ-83 [link to .pdf manual]). Accordingly, the police began calling these serial killers — there were at least two — the “Ceska murderers,” a politically correct term that replaced the original media-coined term, “Kebab killers.” (In German, Dönermörder).  You see, the victims were almost all Turks, and the cops were fixed on the idea that ethnic Turkish organized crime was whacking them. “Döner” or kebab is an all-purpose pejorative for anything Turkish.  (One victim was Greek, and may have been mistaken for a Turk. The last victims were German police officers). Al Jazeera, of course, blamed the “Kebab Murder” term on, wait for it, racism by the German police.

The CZ-83 was a pistol made for export to all those small police forces who wanted a modern pistol without changing their 7.65 x 17 SR caliber. Derived from the far more common CZ-82 service pistol (which fired the 9 x 18 mm Makarov cartridge, to suit the Czechs’ then-masters), the CZ-83 is fundamentally the same pistol but chambered in Western calibers: 9mm Browning Short (9 x 17, aka .380 ACP) and the above-mentioned 7.65 mm. Of those, the 9 mm chambering is overwhelmingly more common.

Traditional police work was at a dead end with the pistol, unless they lucked into finding it, ideally in the hands or home of one of the killers. Witnesses reported that the killer had a suppressor on the pistol. None of the crimes had taken place in front of video surveillance (Germany, with its Nazi and Stasi surveillance history, has been slower to camera up than Britain, for example). So instead the cops kept investigating the victims, their families, friends and business associates, looking for the link to the Turkish mafia.

But there was no link. The Ceska Murders had been committed by members of a band of underground neo-Nazis, whose trials continue in Germany to this day.

The CZ-83’s actual path from legitimate commerce to being used to shoot foreigners in the face is unclear, even after reading trial reports. Some reports in English (as well as German and Turkish) are available at a (left-ish) trial blog, which explains its raison d’être as follows:

In the fall of 2011, it was revealed that a neo-Nazi group was responsible for a series of murders which at first seemed unimaginable. Over the course of almost a decade, the Nazis of the “National Socialist Underground” shot and killed several people of primarily Turkish descent, carried out two bombing attacks in districts inhabited primarily by migrants, and robbed several banks. That their killing spree was discovered is not the result of the investigations by the police and the domestic intelligence agencies: those agencies worked on the assumption that these crimes, which they referred to as “Kebap killings”, had been perpetrated by “Turkish criminals.” Rather, the crimes were discovered due to confession videos presumably sent out by the main accused Beate Zschäpe after two of her co-perpetrators – Uwe Böhnhardt and Uwe Mundlos – had been found shot dead after a bank robbery.


The main focus of the trial will be on establishing whether the charges brought by the Federal Prosecutor General against the accused Beate Zschäpe, André Eminger, Holger Gerlach, Ralf Wohlleben and Carsten Schulze can be proven.

Böhnhardt and Mundlos were found dead in a trailer home that had been burned. The murder CZ-83 was recovered from that fire, along with other weapons, including the HK P2000 pistol of a murdered policewoman. It is speculated that the reason they killed her was to take the weapon.

The CZ-83 had had its serial number defaced, but an expert was able to recover it. Unfortunately this did not bring any further enlightenment about the weapon’s provenance.

Trying to track down the travels of the firearm before it came into the murderers’ hands is proving difficult for the court. The prosecution theory brings the pistol from Switzerland to a Nazi cell in Jena in the former East Germany as follows:

The court also read out the minutes of an interview conducted by Swiss authorities with Hans-Ulrich Müller, who according to the indictment was responsible for transporting the Ceska pistol from Switzerland to the mixed scene of Nazis and common criminals in Jena, from where it then found its way, via accused Wohlleben and Schultze, to the NSU. Müller had refused to come to Munich, but had testified to Swiss authorities.

The court has learned (in July 2016) that other neo-Nazis had been approached for firearms, and that the police had infiltrated that network.

Blood and Honour leader Jan Werner from Chemnitz in 1998-2001. On 25 August 1998, Werner had send a text message “What about the bang?” to a cell phone belonging to secret service informer Carsten Szczepanski. This indicates that Werner was tasked with buying a gun for Zschäpe, Mundlos and Böhnhardt and trying to enlist Szczepanski’s help, and thus also that there was an opening to effect an arrest of the three who had gone underground – a chance the Brandenburg secret service chose not to use.

And… 14 July 16:

They also moved … that two witnesses be called to testify in order to show that (Blood and Honour Chemnitz) and Ralf Marschner (Blood and Honour Zwickau and informer to the federal domestic secret service) were tasked with providing guns to Böhnhardt and Mundlos. Finally, the secret service case file on Marschner is to show that the secret service knew the whereabouts of the three who had gone underground, but had not given that information to the police.

The defense has tried, but has not succeeded, to shake the story of the “Ceska’s” perambulations. They’ve also tried a rather desperate attempt to disconnect the accused from the specific murder weapon.

A weapon expert with the Bavarian criminal police, summoned upon a motion of the Wohlleben defense, stated that the Ceska murder weapon weighed a bit over 700 grams, the silencer about 240 grams. The defense is of the opinion that, as Wohlleben and Schultze had given differing estimations of their relative weights, this proved that they had held a totally different weapon – another desperate attempt by the defense in light of the crushing evidence against their client.

The trial has been going on for over a year; Spiegel reported on Day 333 of the trial in January (Awful German Language link).



26 thoughts on “Yes, There Have Been Neo-Nazi Murders

  1. John M.

    Neo-Nazis, eh? If these folks had just had the sense to be Leftists, they’d be well on their way to a quiet retirement in Cuba, replete with mojitos, sunshine and the beach. Or they could have chosen the Carlos the Jackal route and converted to Islam in prison and married their hybristophiliac Lefty lawyers. Or, heck, if none of those sounded good, I’m sure they could have found a pleasant sinecure at an American university.

    -John M.

    1. Clarence Chen

      One could easily argue that since Nazism is extremely collectivist and authoritarian, it is “Leftist”, with racism and other “unorthodox” prejudices added. I do believe that the “left-right spectrum” is overly simplistic and rather useless, however.

      1. Clarence Chen

        And I do believe there’s only one “i” in Neo-nazism. (First sentence)

      2. John M.

        Isn’t it odd how humans across vast swaths of history seem to line up into two major factions, one opposed to property, family and tradition, and the other broadly in favor of those three?

        Rightists often use tools of the Left when they rule. That doesn’t make them Leftists. Bismarck invented social insurance: that doesn’t make him a Leftist. Nixon ruled to the left of JFK: that doesn’t change the Left’s hatred of him. The Nazis were rightists who used some of the tricks from the Left’s book.

        Oh, and the Left in America used to be extremely racist, xenophobic and jingoistic, as long as being those things forwarded the Progressive agenda. Check this out for a fascinating part of American history that’s been memory holed as inconvenient:

        Yes, Progressives used to be Baptist, jingoistic and xenophobic. They also used to adore the US flag. Noodle on that the next time some “conservative” tells you how much he loves pledging the flag “the original way.”

        -John M.

  2. LFMayor

    I bet they really love the immigration situation now, as compared to twelve years ago.

    1. Josey Wales

      Actually the current immigration situation is pushing more and more Germans to be sympathetic to the “Brown” point of view….because it is increasingly becoming their own……don’t get me wrong, modern Germans have had a drip feed of kool-aid all their lives, but increasingly people are starting to wake up to the reality of a country very different than 2 years ago, never mind 12, and the Germans (like anyone really) can accomplish some amazing things once they get motivated.

  3. staghounds

    My on topic comment, it sounds as though this case is entirely based on accomplice testimony. Despite all the proof that the gun did the killing, no one but his fellow criminals puts the CZ in the killer’s hands.

    1. Hillbilly

      Does seem kind of convenient that the 2 guys ended up dead and burnt to a crisp.
      There is no reason it couldn’t have happened that way, but it does seem to fit together a little too nicely for me. Of course I do have a tendency of making things more complicated then they have to be.

      1. Sommerbiwak

        Nevermind that files pertaining the case have been shreddered, because they were “old” and “not needed” anymore. Or that the RV in which the two Uwes died wasn’t treated properly by forensics. Many dubious contacts with the Office for the Protection of the Constitution. The mentioned interaction with criminals etc. etc. The fixation of the investigators at first on turkish mafia murders making them blind to everything else.

        It smells.

  4. Keith

    London got seriously camera’d up in the 1980’s in response to the IRA bombing attacks.

    There have long been ‘issue’s’ with the Turkish workers in Germany. They initially came in because there was a shortage in certain age groups of German males (take one guess why) in the 1950’s and were seen as second class citizens from the beginning.

    Keep your powder dry and your faith in God.

    1. Trone Abeetin

      I remember a quote from an article I read along time ago about bringing in the Turkish workers. ” we wanted workers, what we got was people”

  5. Sommerbiwak

    Thank you for the analysis of the pistol. In the media here they only said unspecific things about it.

    It really is a rareity. And from the CSSR, which is just up your alley. You should hire out as specialist for czechoslovak guns. To czech the pistols for the police. (badumm tsss SCNR)

  6. Simon

    It was very much the same in Austria apparently. There was at the beginning no talk of wives and children coming as well, and the expectation was that they would go back to Turkey after a period of time working in Austria. It was only really after about ten years (1972, perhaps) that the first families followed.
    I was not around at that time, but the Turks were very much a separate group then, and it was only really with the appearance of Turkish children in the schools that any sort of integration occurred. They are still culturally separate, even though the children feel themselves part of the group in the primary school, they tend to form homogenous Turkish speaking groups in the secondary schools. This does not tend to help the educational process.
    The Turk was seen as being very law-abiding, mostly because the young male part of the group was not present. These are generally the ones that cause trouble. Now that there are many Turkish families this is no longer the case and they are starting to lose their good name.
    The workers that came directly from Turkey had a good reputation as being clean and good workers – after all, they emigrated from their country in order to work and earn money. The youthful Turks are now leaving school with little in the way of qualifications and only a good knowledge of how to use the system to their advantage.
    One of the problems is that the parents are mostly uneducated and were able to find paying jobs, so they place little emphasis on education of the children. Even the girls (who generally take school more seriously than boys) are failing school in this group and it is no longer so simple to find a job that requires no qualifications. This is not USA or France, so simply being born in the country does not give nationality, so there are many who are in danger of being expelled from the country they were born in, and which they feel is their country. This does not lead to peaceful co-existence. Even with equal qualification, their “differentness” does lead to discrimination, and the uneducated ones are basically unemployable due to attitude as well as lack of education.
    I spend the weeks in a flat near to where I work and most of the families there are Turkish. They make very good friends and are generally honest and reliable, but the ghetto life in the cities is not good for the younger ones.

  7. James

    The CZ-82 (9X18) is one of my favorite pistols. Very accurate and just feels right in the hand which makes it point naturally. Had no idea they made a CZ-83 in .32 caliber. The frame is way overkill for the .32 cartridge, but I guess being a simple blowback design it was readily adaptable with a lighter recoil spring.

  8. McThag

    Neo Nazis going after the Turkish population?

    It could (should?) probably been predicted.

    Around Stuttgart in the late ’80’s Germans would say, where Americans could hear, “Was ist der Unterschied zwischen einem Türken und einem Juden? Die Juden haben es hinter ihnen.” There was definitely an undercurrent that was perfectly willing to fire up the gas chambers and ovens again, just change the geno in the cide.

      1. Kirk

        Google Translate has that as:

        “What is the difference between a Turk and a Jew? The Jews have it behind them.”

        Big difference between the two, though, is that the Turk is a fighter; there ain’t going to be any cooperation with the authorities, when it comes time for the Germans to try putting them in the ovens.

        The whole thing is a huge mess; the Germans have made it for themselves, and I feel a bit of pity for the innocents involved, but the nation as a whole? Not a bit; they did this to themselves. If they hadn’t have tried taking over the world, and slaughtered all the Jews they could get their hands on, they’d have handily overcome the demographic problems the Nazis were concerned about.

        There’s not a damn reason that they couldn’t have done what they did in the 1950s back during the 1930s, instead of putting all that wealth into overly-sophisticated weapons and trying to conquer the world–And, the world would be a much better place, instead of the tragicomic farce that it is.

        1. John M.

          Kaiser Bill was a dope, but he wasn’t a Hitler-grade dope. Do you see what I mean about the wrong team winning WW I?

          -John M.

          1. Kirk

            I’m sure the Herero and Namaqua would be lining up to agree with you. If there were any left, in your Teutonic fantasy world, that is.

            The list of horrors the soi disant “civilized” Germans introduced to the world convinces me that we’d actually have been a lot better off if they’d stuck to building cuckoo-clocks and toys. Unfortunately, they didn’t, and we received the joy of good Germanic Schrecklichkeit.

            The idea that the “wrong side” won WWI is prima facie ridiculous; had the Germans won, odds are pretty good that the resultant cluster-fuck in Eastern Europe and elsewhere would have been epic. Paying back the Turks for their aid would have led to some interesting side-effects, and that’s just a tiny fraction of the follow-on effects. No doubt, though, you’re pig-ignorant of the German complicity in the Armenian genocide, and think that wasn’t that big a deal, anyway.

            It’s too bad there really aren’t parallel worlds we could send folks that think such things, if only for a taste of the reality their heroes would have imposed, given the chance. The Allies weren’t a bunch of plaster saints, but I’m pretty sure the damage they did wasn’t anywhere near what the Germans would have done unrestrained in victory.

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