NSU German History X, a ripped-from-the-headlines drama inspired by true events, a national scandal, and the still ongoing court case, is set to premiere in the US and UK.
Unless you’ve been reading the German press for the past few years, you probably have no knowledge, as I hadn’t, about a legal case that’s been going on in the country’s Federal Court of Justice since 2013. It has shocked and gripped the German public, and is expected to continue through early 2017.
The defendants are accused of having committed or been accessories in the commitment of a series of hate crimes and other crimes across Germany — individuals who might have been shielded from the law for years by certain members of the federal government.
Of them, one woman is on trial for ten murders, arson, and being a member of a terrorist organization. She is Beate Zschäpe, the sole surviving founding member of the National Socialist Underground.
NSU German History X (Mitten in Deutschland: NSU) tells the story of Beate, her comrades, and their crimes from the perspectives of the perpetrators, victims, and investigators.
The three-part drama opens in the 1990s, in the aftermath of the fall of the Iron Curtain, and focuses on three disillusioned and disaffected young adults: Beate Zschäpe (Anna Maria Mühe, Tatort), Uwe Mundlos (Albrecht Schuch, Bukow and König), and Uwe “Böhni” Böhnhardt (Sebastian Urzendowsky, Generation War). Nationalists who undergo radicalization, they become the founding members of the far-right German terrorist group National Socialist Underground (Nationalsozialistischer Untergrund) or NSU.
The three plan attacks to “restore Germany to the Germans.” And they execute those plans, going on a killing and crime spree across Germany.
Their most notorious acts are collectively referred to as the Bosphorus Serial Murders, the brutal killings of eight Turkish immigrants and one Greek in cold blood. With the same gun they also fatally shoot a German policewoman and attempt to murder her colleague. Bombings and bank robberies become part of their crime repertoire, as well.
The families of the victims seek justice but get none. Despite evidence of a right-wing conspiracy and the multiple arrests of Beate, Böhni, and Uwe (always released), the police attribute the killings to conflicts within the ethnic communities. Instead of sympathizing with the bereaved, the police hurl accusations of drug dealing and worse at them.
(For non-German speakers, turn on the closed captions and set the translation to English or the language of your choice for the video.)
For her part, Beate is held sway by her two partners in crime — by Uwe because of his eloquence and absorption of the right-wing message, and by Böhni because of his “tripwire temper” and random acts of violence.
Then they draw the attention of the Intelligence Service.
The Intelligence Service suspect Beate of being an active member of the NSU, but she refuses to cooperate. Federal authorities seem to have a vested interest in preventing progress in the police investigation, as well — namely keeping secret the identity(s) of their informer(s). While the Intelligence Service is looking for evidence of an inside job, files manage to wander from one office to another or go missing altogether.
One fiery event leads the police to discover that Böhni and Uwe had escaped justice by taking a radical way out. What they also find is evidence. But not Beate. When she does turn herself in, she doesn’t cooperate (again). Interestingly enough, it seems as though she’s protecting the Intelligence Service and vice versa.
By this time, more than a decade has passed since the first murder.
The miniseries features Almila Bagriacik (Hördur – Zwischen den Welten), Tom Schilling (Generation War), André Hennicke (The Team), Florian Lukas (Weissensee), Liv-Lisa Fries (Zurich), Sylvester Groth (Deutschland 83), and Florian Stetter (Kommissarin Lucas).
It is a Gabriela Sperl (Donna Leon’s Commissario Brunetti) production for Wiedemann & Berg Television (Bukow and König), for German broadcasters SWR, WDR, BR, ARD Degeto, and MDR, in association with Beta and Telepool.
The writers are Rolf Basedow (In the Face of Crime), Jan Braren (Leipzig Homicide), Christoph Busche (The Old Fox), Peter Schwarz, Semiya Simsek, Laila Stieler (Cloud 9), and Thomas Wendrich (Les Européens). Züli Aladag (Tatort), Florian Cossen (Coconut Hero), and Christian Schwochow (The Tower) are the directors.
NSU German History X premieres this Thursday, 7 July 2016, on Netflix in the US and UK.
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