Federal prosecutor’s office ends investigation into Oktoberfest assassination attempt

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Federal prosecutor's office ends investigation into Oktoberfest assassination attempt


It was the most extreme right-wing attack in the history of the Federal Republic. After almost 40 years, the files are now finally closed – with a new, clear finding.



© picture-alliance/dpa/F. Leonhardt
The area at the entrance to the Wiesn after the 1980 attack


The devastating attack on the Munich Oktoberfest on September 26, 1980 was clearly a right-wing extremist terrorist act. This was the result of the new investigation into the assassination attempt begun at the end of 2014. However, no concrete approaches to persecuting any backers or accomplices were found, even after hundreds of traces had been examined. “We have no sufficient, factual evidence for the participation of other people as accomplices, instigators or assistants in the act of Gundolf Köhler,” said a spokesman for the federal prosecutor’s office in Karlsruhe. At the same time, he informed that the authority had finally ended its investigation.

As the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” reports, referring to an investigator, the federal prosecutor no longer assumes that the attack was the act of a student under examination stress with a heartache. Rather, the assassin Gundolf Köhler acted out of National Socialist conviction. The investigators are certain that Köhler wanted to influence the 1980 Bundestag election with the attack.



Since 2008, this memorial on the northern edge of the Theresienwiese in Munich has been reminiscent of the victims of the attack


© picture-alliance/dpa/N. Almak
Since 2008, this memorial on the northern edge of the Theresienwiese in Munich has been reminiscent of the victims of the attack

Munich victim attorney Werner Dietrich, who launched the new investigation in December 2014 with his third application for reopening, confirmed that the federal prosecutor – unlike the 1982 appointment – had now clearly established the right-wing terrorist background. Dietrich quoted from documents from the Karlsruhe authorities: “Köhler not only spoke about the concrete goal of political influence on the upcoming Bundestag election to be achieved through the deed, but also about a leader state and a National Socialist dictatorship, which he considered desirable.” In the federal election on October 5, 1980, CSU chief Franz Josef Strauß was the candidate for chancellor of the Union against Chancellor Helmut Schmidt (SPD), who was confirmed in office.



Bavarian Prime Minister Franz Josef Strauß at the scene of the crime on the late evening of September 26, 1980


© picture-alliance / dpa / D. Finite
Bavarian Prime Minister Franz Josef Strauß at the scene of the crime on the late evening of September 26, 1980

A week and a half earlier, on the evening of September 26, 1980, twelve guests had been killed and more than 200 injured in the main entrance to the Oktoberfest in the explosion of almost 1.4 kilograms of TNT explosives. Screws and nails in the homemade bomb increased the destructive power. The assassin Koehler also died.

The 21-year-old geology student had been a member of the right-wing extremist “Wehrsportgruppe Hoffmann”, banned in January 1980, and had contacts with other right-wing extremist groups and with the NPD. However, the files were quickly closed and the proceedings were stopped. Relatives, victim representatives and politicians from different parties fought to resume the investigation.



Police photo of Gundolf Köhler, who, after a failed inspection, deposited a bomb in a trash can at the main entrance to the Oktoberfest


© picture alliance/dpa
Police photo of Gundolf Köhler, who, after a failed inspection, deposited a bomb in a trash can at the main entrance to the Oktoberfest

Since then, according to lawyer Dietrich, there have been well over a thousand interrogations of witnesses and victims, and around 900 clues and traces have been checked. In the 1980s there had been numerous mishaps. Witnesses were not heard enough. A fragment of a hand discovered near the explosion site was examined in forensic medicine – and then disappeared without a trace. 48 cigarette ends from Köhler’s car were destroyed. Today DNA traces could have provided clues. According to Dietrich, 504 evidence objects were also destroyed, allegedly due to lack of space.

se / wa (dpa, afp, sz)

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