chapter  5
29 Pages

The ‘National Socialist Underground’ (NSU)

Uwe Mundlos – who arguably was the informal leader of the NSU cell – was born in August 1973 in Jena. He grew up in a well-educated and economically stable environment, with his father being a professor of computer science and his mother a saleswoman (Baumgärtner & Böttcher 2012; Fuchs 2012; Gensing 2012c; Spiegel 2011). Mundlos, who had a reputation of being very caring for his handicapped brother, was a member of the GDR youth organization FDJ until 1987 and left the grammar school after the 10th grade in 1989 with good grades, especially in the sciences (Baumgärtner & Böttcher 2012: 24). After completing his job training as businessman, he was accepted at the wellestablished Ilmenau-Kolleg to finish his Abitur2 (Fuchs 2012: 48; Spiegel 2011). During the era of the GDR, Mundlos became a right-wing skinhead as early as 1988 (Spiegel 2011); it was a subculture with a long-standing tradition in the area. After German reunification the youth club Winzerclub opened in 1991, where he regularly met with his later comrades and other members of the

right-wing scene. Mundlos became an active member of the Kameradschaft Jena (Comradeship Jena), a subsection of the Thüringer Heimatschutz (Thuringia Home Protection, THS), participated in NPD rallies, Rudolf Heß memorial marches, Blood & Honour concerts and published theoretical articles in notorious right-wing magazines. The earliest that Mundlos could be counted amongst the core of the militant Anti-Antifa movement in Thuringia, together with Beate Zschäpe and Uwe Böhnhardt was in 1995. In that same year, he was charged and found guilty of one of his first political crimes: the manufacturing and distribution of symbols and material related to anti-constitutional organizations. From April 1994 till March 1995, Mundlos completed his mandatory military service as a member of the armored infantry. During his military service, he attracted the attention of his superior officers several times due to his outspoken National Socialist worldviews. At least one military trial was held because Mundlos was found to be in possession of right-wing extremist propaganda material while wearing uniform and because he used business cards with the picture of Adolf Hitler on them. At that time, the German Military Intelligence Service (Militärischer Abschirm Dienst, MAD) investigated and interrogated Mundlos with the aim of recruiting him as an informant. Mundlos rejected the offer and the MAD closed the case (Gebauer 2012). Contrary to German army regulations strictly forbidding the promotion of right-wing extremist soldiers, Mundlos was promoted to private first class (Gefreiter) due to his good performance. After his military service Mundlos, Zschäpe and Böhnhardt radicalized further as can be seen in their subsequent crimes, directly indicating the direction of their future activities. In October 1996 and New Year 1996/1997, two fake bombs bearing swastikas were placed by the group in front of a soccer stadium and sent to a police station, newspaper and the local regulatory authority’s office. In September 1997, the trio placed a suitcase with a swastika in front of the Jena theatre, containing a small amount of TNT which was not ignitable. These events caused the police to search the homes and garages of Mundlos and his comrades which led to their subsequent move underground. Mundlos was generally described as an open and intelligent character, keen on debates and able to tolerate contrary opinions, at least during the first half of the 1990s. Put in one word by one of his former friends, Mundlos was an “intellectual” (S. Erb 2011). Uwe Mundlos killed himself 2011.