EXTREMISMGerman Police Failed in Far-Right Hanau Killings: Critics

By Ben Knight

Published 7 June 2022

Police have been accused of failing to keep tabs on a racist killer during one of Germany’s worst-ever far-right shootings. Police say they had to proceed cautiously.

An exhibition on one of Germany’s deadliest mass shootings has opened in Frankfurt, raising new questions about the police operation in the western city of Hanau in the state of Hesse, on February 19, 2020.

The 43-year-old, Tobias R.*,went on a shooting spree in two hookah bars and a kiosk, where he killed nine people of color and injured five others. He later killed his mother in their home before taking his own life. Prosecutors classified the crime as right-wing extremismand racially motivated, as the gunman had posted a racist manifesto on his personal website.

The Hesse State Interior Minister Peter Beuth insisted that the police performed “excellent” work during the Hanau operation. But the families of the Hanau victims have repeatedly alleged that they have been subjected to policing and suspicion following the attack, while potential far-right perpetrators go unnoticed by authorities until atrocities happen.

The February 19 Initiative, which represents the Hanau survivors and victims’ families, commissioned Forensic Architecture to conduct its investigation and was represented at the official opening at the Frankfurter Kunstverein on Thursday night by Cetin Gültekin, brother of Gökhan Gültekin, who was shot dead in Hanau’s Arena Bar.

We want to show the public that we are doing the work that the police should be doing,” Gültekin told DW, after delivering a passionate speech to a crowd outside the gallery. “And now we put all the evidence on the table, and everything is in the open, and it shows that the police failed.”

Delayed Action
The exhibition, by Forensic Architecture, a UK group that recently opened an office in Berlin, presented its evidence in the form of minutely detailed timelines and videos — painstakingly pieced together from witness statements, police helicopter footage, and surveillance cameras. The material was redacted to ensure it is legally publishable, though Forensic Architecture has chosen to keep its sources anonymous.

Forensic Architecture’s exhibition suggests the Hesse state police failed to keep the perpetrator’s house under surveillance for over an hour after they knew his address and had police cars posted nearby.

Acoustic experiments carried out by Forensic Architecture also suggest that nearby police should have been able to hear the shot when Tobias R. killed his mother.

The fact that the police should’ve heard the shots, that the special units should’ve heard the shots — that throws up new questions,” said Heike Hofmann, Social Democrat politician and part of the Hesse state parliamentary committee investigating the Hanau killings. “Maybe