Our author Randa Bashlah travelled to the city of Chemnitz and attended the NSU-Tribunal on racism in Saxony. There she saw a lot of ghosts from the past, but even more new modes of solidarity from the future.

Tribunal "unravel the NSU complex"
Tribunal „unravel the NSU complex“

What is NSU Tribunal?

When you hear the word ‘tribunal’, you think of an international court of justice or a trial which accuse and sue war criminals. However, the NSU tribunal is a public tribunal as it invites the public to update the “indictment”. It urges everyone to stand up for further knowledge and for rightful demands. In this sense, this particular indictment was described as political rather than legal. It is an intervention which aims at involving others by the motto it raised: “our indictment is yours”.

Indictement of the NSU-Tribunal in Chemnitz
Indictement of the NSU-Tribunal in Chemnitz

In the name of justice and enlightenment and on behalf of the victims and their families, huge efforts were made to accuse the NSU complex and make its actors visible. Unlike the criminal charges of the Federal Prosecutor which underestimated the NSU by considering it “an act of a few” in the indictment, the NSU tribunal expressed to be “not an end, but a beginning” and this is how it was meant to be by the Charges of the 1st tribunal «Unravel the NSU complex» which took place on 17-21 of May 2017 in Cologne-Mülheim.

Therefore, the 3rd NSU tribunal in Chemnitz/Zwickau from 1st-3rd November 2019 has stated:

Within the framework of the tribunal „Unravel the NSU Complex“ we are making visible the developments of the past 30 years of right-wing and racist violence in Saxony. We want to bring together the myriad of stories and the different places that tell of a reality that was and is dangerous for many people, even deadly for some. These experiences are a social accusation of racism and right-wing violence

Why this NSU is meant to involve everyone?

A question that was raised in the Round Table Migration in Chemnitz, one of many workshops that took place during the weekend. Out of the fact that the “Migrantifa” entered the political arena and shaped a new experience of solidarity during the previous summer in Saxony. Numerous anti-fascist initiatives, concerts, tours and events where migrants, feminists and anti-fascist groups collected efforts to rectify and straighten out the alarming shift towards obtaining and justifying “right-wing” behaviors. Following that summer, a detailed list of political demands for east-migrant politics was claimed during the previous Round Table on Migration in Leipzig. Similar to every NSU tribunal sessions I attended, the ‘round table’ offered not enough space for the participants. We scattering all around the room, in the corners and even on the floor. The discussion was even translated into other languages. This scene was a simple evidence that there is a space for everyone in this pursuit.

Because solidarity does not work individually, people should meet, discuss and build bridges of knowledge. In that hall in Network for Culture and Youth Work in Chemnitz, it did not matter “who” was talking or which political affiliation or social background they come from, but what was important is their perspectives and their active decision to be part of this action. Everyone stepped away from their comfort zone and joined one table and everyone opened their minds and hearts to learn from the other. What happens if everyone stays in their comfort zone? It will stop being a comfort zone. It will sooner be occupied by the evils’ deeds. When you stop acting, you’re not dead and your value in the equation is not merely a zero! Your value is minus because you are giving away your space to who may be pleased to “hack it”. This takes me to the idea which we discussed: ‘questioning oneself if I am a racist or a potential one’. No one would say that he/she is racist, especially when they haven’t been affected by racism. But in today’s world, who is not affected by racism? You can be a racist by watching racism and refrain from acting against it.

The fact that everyone needs to be involved was sadly proven by the latest Nazi-terrorist attack in Halle which indeed proved that everyone is involved. The Jewish community in the synagogue and random customers in a Turkish restaurant in the German city of Halle in Saxony-Anhalt were directly targets of a racist and anti-semitic attack; two persons died. The attack took place on Yom Kippur, one of the holiest days in the Hebrew calendar when there were about 80 worshippers inside the synagogue. But the Turkish restaurant in the neighborhood was the second target of that criminal/racist.

Who What is next?

Regardless of the debate that the authorities are reacting differently towards Anti-Semitism and Racism, hatred and racist sentiments do not make any difference. It is important to understand the history of each struggle but the tragic fact shows that everyone is involved and you never know when you are next.

Hence, being unaffected by the problem and still want to act against it and encouraging people who are affected and involving them is what makes a difference. There is no difference who is next because our duty is to make sure that nobody is next.

The tribunal succeeded in breaking the rules by taking its place in Chemnitz and involving everyone. In Chemnitz and Zwickau, where the NSU core trio lived during the series of murders. They were integrated into a „network of comrades“ that still exists until today and they are socially active. In Chemnitz is where the right-wing hunts were carried out on migrants in October 2018, and where there were arson attacks on migrants’ and Jewish restaurants. From there, a wave of racism went through the country, and from which the matured but not tired networks of the NSU emerged and strengthened. Therefore, this place has also proved to be the place of resilience, of solidarity and a place of birth of new alliances against continuous racism. In this place perpetrators of racist violence were being accused and justice is being demanded. In the tribunal, the continuity of migration in Saxony was made visible. Together they wiped, declared and affirmed ‘the society of the many’ because they, altogether, hand in hand, resemble the past and the future of Saxony.

Any lessons learnt?

What do we learn by the stories of the racist violence from the 1970s to the present day which were told in the tribunal with victims and relatives of victims and by accusing the criminals in a loud voice?

Many initiatives can learn from this tribunal which was an example of how to be organized even if diverse, how to involve and how to connect with others.

As a continuous call of the NSU tribunal of 2019, what are we waiting for before we all complain about racism, about right-wing continuity of violence, terrorism and its implications on everyone’s and everyday lives.  Before we all accuse the politicians, the authorities and the majority of the society, which should have acted persistently… before we all demand recognition for the victims and the affected, before we all act against the consistent right and racist motives, before we all embrace a moral courage and the right to stand for victims of right-wing violence! We have our voices, let’s use them in the right appropriate way!


Bilder: privat, copyright Allegra Schneider