Updated March 4, 2020, 8:14 p.m.
With a moving funeral service, politicians and relatives commemorate the victims of the racist attack in Hanau – and demand consequences. Shock and bewilderment are ubiquitous in the city two weeks after the crime.
Her brother was “unexpectedly torn from the middle of our family,” says Ajla Kurtović in a halting voice. The young woman stands on the stage in front of high-ranking politicians and other relatives of the victims of the February 19 attack in Hanau. “What remains is boundless pain, an inconceivable emptiness and bewilderment,” she adds, and demands that the crime must be fully explained so that there can be no repetition. She does not feel hate because it is a driving force for racism. The perpetrator shot nine people with foreign roots exactly two weeks ago.
Mayor Claus Kaminsky is also fighting tears when he greets the mourners on Wednesday evening, including Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU). In the first row they sit at the central funeral service as a companion next to the bereaved, together they later put white roses next to a large candle on the stage. A partition there lists the names of the victims. They were not strangers, but fellow citizens, says Kaminsky.
Kemal Kocak, whose son owned the kiosk where shots were fired, impressively described at the lectern that he was suffering from anxiety attacks, even at home in his apartment. He knew many of the victims well. “It hurts my soul so much, my heart bleeds so much, I can’t describe what happened in words.”
Hanau holds together: “The victims were not strangers!”
The moving memorial event will be broadcast on two video screens, according to police estimates, around 2,000 people will come together in the city center, some dressed in black. Thoughtfulness, dismay and tears can be seen on many faces. The message can be read on the screens and on many shop windows in the city: “The victims were not strangers!”. And: “Hanau stands together “.
The helpless anger, the anger that some people made immediately after the attack, is not felt at first – rather the continuing shock and bewilderment. “I always have to think about it when I walk here,” says a young woman wearing a headscarf. “But we still have to learn to live with it.” In addition to grief, there is also fear and worry in Hanau, especially among citizens with foreign roots.
The act of the 43-year-old, who also shot his mother and himself, has a history of intellectual arson, mood-building and hatred, among other things, on social media, says Steinmeier, As a “man with white hair and white skin”, he experiences no pejorative looks, hurtful comments, belittling jokes or exclusion. Those who did not have this experience should know: “Yes, there is racism in our country – and not just for a few weeks. Yes, there is widespread hostility to Muslims.”
Memorial is set up in the city
The attack of the perpetrator with a racist outlook, who was mentally ill according to previous knowledge, was aimed at the alleged strangers. He had met people who “lived, laughed, cried, made plans for the future”. Like Mercedes, a cheerful mother of two children, as the Federal President says. Or Ferhat, company founder and fan of rap music. In his speech, Steinmeier names all nine victims of the crime with foreign roots by name. “They were our fellow citizens. They were so much more than what the assassin saw in them,” said the Federal President. “As part of us, we keep them in our memories.”
Mayor Kaminsky emphasizes that the memory should not end with the funeral service. The names of the victims are said to be part of the city’s collective memory, and a memorial will be set up for this. There are also numerous other initiatives. An alliance has called for a demonstration against hatred and violence in Frankfurt on March 14th. The following week, the Friday prayers in more than 1,700 mosque congregations include the victims of Hanau. (ash / dpa)