An abhorrent act of violence motivated by hate shocked Germany this past Wednesday. In the city of Hanau, in the state of Hesse, nine people were fatally gunned down in successive attacks on three bars. All victims are individuals with a migrant background. Six more people were injured, one of them severely. According to the Kurdish community of Germany, four of the fatalities were of Kurdish origin, while five of the fatalities were said to be of Turkish origin.
Details of the Hanau Attack
The first shots were fired at around 10 p.m. on Wednesday. First, the perpetrator shot a shisha bar on the outskirts of downtown Hanau, then a café bar a few yards away. Afterwards, he drove to another bar and opened the fire again.
The suspect is a 43-year-old man from Hanau with German citizenship, as Hesse’s Interior Minister Peter Beuth confirmed on Wednesday. In addition, the perpetrator possessed several weapons legally as he was a sports shooter without any prior police record.
Hours after the crime, police discovered the body of the alleged killer in his apartment, who, by that time, had committed suicide. The body of the 72-year-old mother of the suspect was also found in the apartment, whether or not the gunman also killed her has yet to be confirmed. The police also searched a car on the property, possibly the perpetrator’s getaway vehicle. Weapons and ammunition are said to have been found in it, according to reports.
By now, Germany’s Attorney General has taken over the investigation in the Hanau case. The decision was made early in the morning on suspicion of a terrorist act that was confirmed later in the day.
The Suspect’s Manifesto and Beliefs
The suspect had published video messages and a manifesto online, Attorney General Peter Frank confirmed. In addition to appalling worldviews and absurd conspiracy theories, these materials contained profoundly racist and misogynist beliefs. The investigators also found a video in the apartment. The recording, which the man published a few days before the crime, contains confused theories in English including a “personal message to all Americans,” taken in a private apartment. In it, the man claims there are underground military facilities in the United States where children were being “mistreated and murdered” and where “the devil was being worshiped.” He then urges American citizens to “wake up and fight”!
The video does not contain a reference to an impending act of violence in Germany. The Federal Criminal Police Office and the Hesse State Criminal Police Office are now investigating with special commissions. While no further suspects are currently in custody, the authorities have made it their priority to establish whether or not the killer had supporters or was part of a more extensive network of white supremacists.
Merkel: The Motivation was Racism and Hate
Chancellor Angela Merkel was shocked by the events and gave a statement where she officially declared “hatred of people with a different origin, belief or appearance” as the perpetrator’s motive. Federal Interior Minister Seehofer also emphasized that the perpetrator acted out of racist motivation.
After the murder of local politician Walter Lübke and the attempted massacre in a Jewish synagogue in Halle in October 2019, the Hanau murders are the latest shocking act with a racist background within just fifteen months in Germany.
Politicians from all parties expressed their empathy and condolences to the victim’s families. Many also attended a public gathering in the evening. Calls for prevention of these cases were immediately made, especially towards oversight on the Internet, where many white supremacists communicate on well-known sites and seemingly find like-minded people. However, no concrete measures for countering this threat have been made public so far.