Beate Zschaepe, believed to be the last surviving member of the National Social Underground and nicknamed the “Nazi bride” of Germany, broke her two-year silence at her trial in Munich. Zschaepe denied having any role in the NSU’s 2000 to 2007 crime spree, which included bank robberies, bombings, and 10 murders.
“I was involved neither in the preparations, nor in the carrying out,” Zschaepe said, according to NBC.
She claimed she was never a part of NSU and that she only found out about the atrocities committed by the terror group after the fact. Wednesday was the first time Zschaepe spoke publicly about the allegations since her trial began in 2013.
According to the Daily Mail, Zschaepe claimed essentially that she came to be with the NSU’s other two members, Uwe Boehnhardt and Uwe Mundlos, because they promised her they’d never kill again and she feared being arrested for complicity.
“I was scared of a long jail sentence, scared they would die and scared about losing Uwe Boehnhardt,” she said. “I remember pleading with them for hours to stop the killings. Mantra-like I received the answer that it wouldn’t happen again. They didn’t keep their word.”
Feeling trapped, Zschaepe claims she succumbed and made life tolerable by playing video games and drinking three or four bottles of sparkling wine a day.
Zschaepe’s suspected accomplices in the NSU, Mundlos and Boehnhardt, killed themselves in 2011 after a failed burglary, according to the Wire. They set their van on fire, police found it, and a DVD inside let police know that the murders were committed by a neo-Nazi terror cell. Days later, Zschaepe turned herself in. Four other accomplices were also put on trial for lending the NSU support.
If found guilty, Zschaepe faces life in prison as Germany has no death penalty.
Zschaepe denies all but one of the charges she’s faced with. She admits to an arson charge, saying she set fire to the NSU’s home after the other members committed suicide. Per their final request, she also distributed the DVD, which featured footage of the murders and a Pink Panther cartoon counting the bodies.
Nearly all of the victims were immigrants. Eight of them were Turkish, one was Greek, and the final victim, the only female, was a German police officer. Because most of the victims were shop owners, until they found the DVD German police thought they were dealing with an organized crime wave, according to the Wire.
According to the Daily Mail, the NSU’s goal was to slaughter enough random immigrants to cause a mass exodus out of Germany. Then, conditions would be right to build a Fourth Reich.
Reportedly, Zschaepe has been in communication with another infamous right-wing terrorist, Norway’s Anders Breivik, who killed eight people with a car bomb in Oslo in 2011. Breivik said he supports the right-wing goals of Zschaepe.
Many people close to the trial aren’t buying Zschaepe’s story of non-involvement with the NSU, including Wolfgang Range, a German federal prosecutor.
“I am convinced that she wasn’t just an accessory or merely a companion, but was in fact acting on the same level as the others,” Range told Der Spiegel in 2013. He added that Zschaepe played a vital role in giving the NSU “the appearance of legality and normalcy towards the outside.”
The NSU’s victims aren’t buying it, either. The Daily Mail reports that a daughter of one of the victims didn’t believe a single word. Barbara John, a government representative for victims of the NSU, balked at Zschaepe trying to pass herself off as the “11th victim” of Boehnhardt and Mundlos, calling it “the easiest thing you can do, because the two can’t speak anymore.”
[Photo by Joerg Koch/Getty Images]