Photo by Eric Schmuttenmaer (akeg; Flickr CC)
When a committee is set up to find out why something went so horribly wrong with a secret service investigation in which a terrorist group was allowed to kill people, make bombs, and rob banks for a decade, you might expect the various people being questioned to show some remorse, or shame, or at least look a bit sheepish. What you wouldn't expect is for the head of the state secret service to testify that he was too drunk to remember how these terrorists disappeared on his watch, but that it probably wasn't his fault, and by the way he has a book coming out soon about the crazy adventures him and his agents used to get up to.
Helmut Roewer was head of the Thuringian Verfassungsschutz (Office for the Protection of the Constitution) from 1994 to 2000, during which time the National Socialist Underground, this aforementioned group of neo-Nazi murderers, disappeared from surveillance in his state and went on to kill 10 people. Roewer's defense has been to turn his testimony into a bizarre sideshow. Thus, the German papers were filled this week with the "colourful" details of his time in office – his impromptu wine and cheese parties with lady workers late at night, riding a bike round the sixth floor, and apparently the worst sin of all, putting his dirty bare feet up on his desk when receiving colleagues in his office.
Describing the way Roewer ran his department, one of these colleagues said, "He was more of an artist," apparently forgetting to add the words "smelly piss-" in front of the word "artist". Either way, what seems pretty clear is that Roewer had little or no interest in shutting down any neo-Nazis in his area. In fact, he apparently had more interest in paying his "informants" in the far-right scene as much as he could and downplaying the danger of the growing violent terrorist tendencies in the far-right scene. It's almost as sickening as the testimony of the secret service agent present at one of the NSU's murders, who not only failed to identify the killer, but apparently failed to notice that there had been a murder at all. That might have had a good reason: according to Die Zeit, police investigating the murder at the time suspected the agent was in on it, or knew it was going to happen, but their investigations were blocked by the secret service.
By the way, Roewer's upcoming book will soon be available from an Austrian publisher that you can legally call "far-right Nazi cunts" without fear of a slander suit, thanks to a special Austrian court ruling.