German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier speaks at the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the Solingen arson attack. © David Young/dpa
On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the racist arson attack in Solingen, the leaders of the state have come to the city for a demonstrative solidarity against racism and right-wing violence.
Solingen - 30 years after the racist arson attack in Solingen, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has called for a vigilant and defensive state against right-wing terror. "As Federal President, I cannot remain silent about the climate in which these attacks have flourished," Steinmeier said at a memorial ceremony in Solingen.
"Immediately after the arson attack, all rope ladders here in Solingen were sold out," Steinmeier recalled. "People were afraid that they would not be able to escape from the upper floor of their house in an emergency. At that time, buckets of water were available in the apartments so that they could be extinguished quickly in the event of a fire. On the doorbell signs and mailboxes, all foreign-sounding names were removed."
For far too long, the country had succumbed to the allegation of the deluded lone perpetrators, Steinmeier said. The structures and ideology of the perpetrators had been ignored for a long time. "I'm talking about right-wing extremism. Of racism. Of misanthropy."
Steinmeier: "I call it terror"
Right-wing extremists and racists dehumanized the individual and thus spread fear and terror. "I call it: terror. This right-wing terror is responsible for the deaths here in Solingen. This right-wing terror existed before Solingen, and it exists after Solingen," said the Federal President.
"I am stunned when I hear that individual members of security agencies, who are supposed to prevent right-wing extremist attacks, organize themselves in right-wing chat groups. We cannot and must not tolerate this," Steinmeier demanded.
30 years ago, on May 29, 1993, five Turkish girls and women died when right-wing extremists set fire to the Genç family's home: Saime Genç (4), Hülya Genç (9), Gülüstan Öztürk (12), Hatice Genç (18) and Gürsün Ince (27). The attack is considered one of the most serious racist crimes in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Shortly after the crime, four young right-wing extremists between the ages of 16 and 23 were arrested. They belonged to the right-wing scene and were convicted of murder in 1995.
"Even 30 years after the cruel act in Solingen, we are still stunned, angry and sad," Steinmeier said. But we are not intimidated, not helpless, not inactive."
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Faeser: "Standing united against racist sentiment"
"In such situations, it is always important that politicians stand united against this racist mood," said Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD), who also came to Solingen.
"At that time we didn't counter early enough, at that time we didn't see the connections. That was a failure of the policy of the time, and it clearly has to be called that," said Faeser on the sidelines of the commemoration ceremony.
"That's why I'm glad that all three levels are here. The municipality is doing a great job, the state government is well represented, the federal government is well represented, the federal president himself is there. These are the right signals on such a day of remembrance."
"May 29 is one of the darkest days in the history of our country," said NRW Prime Minister Hendrik Wüst (CDU). "It was an attack committed out of hatred. How can anyone hate a four-year-old?"
Solingen's mayor Tim Kurzbach (SPD) recalled the words of Mevlüde Genç, who died last October and lost several family members in the attack: "The death of my children should open us up to becoming friends." In the city, a square was named after the Federal Cross of Merit on Sunday.
On behalf of Turkey, Deputy Foreign Minister Yasin Ekrem Serim thanked the leaders of the city of Solingen for making the commemoration of the attack the "DNA of the city". The aid from Germany for the victims of the severe earthquake in Turkey was also very gratefully received and registered in his country.
Relatives take part in the commemoration ceremony
The commemoration ceremony was attended by federal and state ministers, Bundestag President Bärbel Bas (SPD) and State Parliament President André Kuper (CDU), as well as surviving family members and relatives of the victims.
Finally, a granddaughter of Mevlüde Genç spoke at the end of the event: Her grandmother did not leave Germany after the attack, but called for love and prudence and deliberately applied for German citizenship, said Özlem Genç.
"Hatred brings death," her grandmother said, embodying the triumphant victory of good over evil. Today, however, one must also ask oneself whether the problem is the loud minority that floods the Internet with hatred, or the broad majority that is unable to say the right thing. Dpa