Germany stopped the initial process of the 1980 Oktoberfest attack
By Dietmar Gaisenkersting
July 15, 2020
Nearly 40 years after the Oktoberfest bombing, the Federal Prosecutors’ Office in Karlsruhe officially stopped the investigation process, which continued in 2014. He admitted for the first time that the hit man, Gundolf Köhler, was a right-wing radical who was killed for political reasons. But it’s hard to deny after all that is known.
The aim is to keep the public in the dark forever in the background of the killings and the people behind him, especially the role of the security service, above all the federal office for the Protection of the Constitution (Verfassungsschutz), as the secret service is known.
The Oktoberfest bombing was the most serious right-wing terrorist attack in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany. The bomb was placed in a wastebasket by Köhler on the night of September 26, 1980. It killed 12 Oktoberfest visitors in Munich and also the perpetrators. Two hundred and eleven people were injured, some of them serious.
At that time, the investigative authority covered the background of neo-Nazi terrorists and the murderer’s right wing. Witness statements, according to which Köhler was not alone on the night of the attack, were ignored. A single actor’s thesis quickly becomes an established narrative.
Köhler, who is a member of the right-wing extremist Wehrsportgruppe (military sports group) Hoffmann, and who has a photo of Hitler hanging on his bed, is said to have built and detonated the bomb because of the hardship and frustration of a failed test. . The terror attack was labeled an uneven and suffering student’s suicide. About two years after the bombing, in November 1982, the federal public prosecutor ended the investigation.
Journalist Ulrich Chaussy and victim lawyer Werner Dietrich never received official narration and spent decades doing their own research. Thanks to their work, the Federal Prosecutors’ Office was forced to reopen the case in late 2014. But last year, the special commission “26 September” of the Bavarian State Criminal Investigation Office was dissolved.
“Actors acted on the grounds of right-wing extremist motivation,” said a senior investigator S.üGerman newspaper. “Gundolf Koehler wants to influence the 1980 federal elections,” the investigator continued. “He wants a ‘Führer state’ based on the Nazi model.” The right-wing chancellor candidate for the Christian Social Union (CSU), Franz-Josef Strauss, would benefit from this in the Bundestag (federal parliament) elections which were followed shortly after in the fall of 1980. “It was not a tantrum without reason or reason,” an investigator telling you S.üGerman newspaper.
In an initial statement, Dietrich’s lawyer and journalist Chaussy expressed relief that the public prosecutor’s office now considers the move a right-wing terrorist attack, because they believe it will allow compensation for the victims. Around 100 victims are still alive.
For decades, they were rejected by the authorities and ridiculed as people pretending to be sick, despite having suffered a lifetime, in several cases of very serious damage from shrapnel. In 1980 alone, 58 people registered to have their legs amputated or suffer severe organ injuries. To this day, the Federal Office of Justice continues to refuse victim compensation from funds for victims of terrorism and extremism.
It is now generally expected that victims will be compensated, even though federal government funds are obliged to provide compensation only to victims of attacks carried out after 1990. For previous attacks, it was determined that money would be paid only for “serious serious incidents. “Even though the Oktoberfest attack met these criteria, the victims still had to fight for their compensation.
Apart from the course of further victim compensation claims, the cessation of the investigation has broad political implications. This has an effect above all: the people behind the attacks and the respective roles of politicians and state authorities will remain in the dark.
Investigators once again interviewed more than 1,000 witnesses, chasing nearly 800 new leads and filtering out more than 420,000 pages of new files from West and East Germany secret service officers. “But that doesn’t help,” he wrote Glass. “Open questions about the most devastating extreme right-wing terrorist attacks in Germany to date will probably remain unanswered.” That S.üGerman newspaper forward the same line, writes: “That effort cannot cure past mistakes.”
Investigations that have followed attacks and responses from the secret service and the federal government over the past four decades have not been “a mistake.” The first investigation from 1980 to 1982 aimed at removing all references to the background of Köhler’s right-wing extremists, as well as the Hoffmann military sports group, which was under the supervision of the secret service. The thesis of a depressed individual actor makes no more sense 40 years ago than it does now.
Furthermore, all traces and evidence that in retrospect could be dangerous for right-wing extremists and secret services were eliminated. For example, 48 cigarette butts were found in the Köhler car ashtray parked near the scene. They were destroyed in February 1981, half a year after the attack.
Investigators have found traces of three different blood types on the butts of six different types of cigarettes, with and without filters. DNA cannot be evaluated at that time.
Stubs are a clear indication that Köhler – as many witnesses have confirmed – did not travel alone to Munich to attend Oktoberfest. In the following years, DNA on cigarette butts could be used to identify Köhler passengers.
A torn hand, which cannot be attributed to one of the known victims, was destroyed along with all other evidence that remained in 1997.
In 2014-2015, the federal coalition government, which consisted of Christian Democrats (Christian Democratic Union – CDU and Christian Social Unity – CSU) and Social Democrats (Social Democratic Party – SPD), refused to answer questions from parliamentary opposition, which had demanded information about the findings of the Office of the Protection of the Constitution regarding the Oktoberfest bombing and the background of Köhler’s right-wing extremists given by the informant. In 2017, in response to an official complaint filed by the Greens and Left, the Federal Constitutional Court ruled that the government must answer only a few individual questions. The court allows other important questions not to be answered.
In 2015, Chaussy reported in an interview with World Socialist Website that investigators in the reopened process were not willing “to enter into the critical review needed for the investigation of their former colleagues.” According to the reporter, the September 26 Special Commission did not want to clarify past investigative errors.
Instead of revealing anything about Köhler’s supporters and accomplices, investigators ignored all relevant clues. Witnesses whose testimony played an important role in forcing the reopening of the case in 2014 were said to only make mistakes in his memory of the time of the incident.
Two of Köhler’s close friends were also interrogated by investigators, because they contradicted each other in 1980. The Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office came to the conclusion that, by all indications, they knew more than they had revealed, but not more than that. can be proved. “The involvement of others as accomplices, instigators or assistants in crime,” said the investigators, cannot be ruled out, but also cannot be proven.
Investigators also found accomplices from right-wing extremist forester Heinz Lembke, who was suspected of supplying explosives, but allegedly had no connection with Köhler. It is still unclear whether Lembke works for secret services or other state institutions.
Dietrich’s attorney found in a note file, “The findings about Lembke can only be used partially in court” – a formulation that usually only occurs in connection with Secret Informants or secret service employees. Lembke was found hanged in his cell in 1981 after he announced he would testify and provide detailed information.
The hiding of the Oktoberfest bombing must be opposed. It is unacceptable that the secret service (Verfassungsschutz) escapes any control, which functions as a state within the state with the power to determine which files are submitted to the investigator and which are not.
This writer read Lembke’s secret service file at the Federal Archives in Koblenz in 1998, at least the pages were available. The most important page in the file is clearly gone. The secret service has not yet submitted the pages to the archive which are relatively freely accessible.
Verfassungsschutz and all these agents must be abolished and dissolved. Their archives must be opened so that credible people – such as investigative journalists and serious scientists – can fully investigate the role and activities of the clandestine secret service and make them known to the general public.
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