She is speaking for the first time, says Gisela Kollmann. “It’s about my grandson.” Five years have passed since a murderer at the Olympia shopping center in Moosach shot and killed 19-year-old Guiliano Kollmann and eight other people for racist motives. But the pain won’t go away, says the grandmother with tears. “The loss has burned itself deep into my soul. The scars do not want to heal. I would have liked to swap places with my child.”
On Thursday afternoon, relatives, citizens of Moosach, the City of Munich and the Free State of Bavaria remembered the murdered on July 22, 2016 in several memorial files. The city set up a black stage in front of the McDonald’s restaurant on Hanauer Strasse, where the assassin started his bloody act, right next to the memorial erected in 2017 for the murdered. The perpetrator murdered eight young people and a woman and seriously injured five other people at this location before shooting himself. Now, five years later this afternoon, there is a lot of talk in this place of grief, of pain. But there are also allegations, there is talk of anger, fear and the feeling of having been left alone.
There is now a bouquet of white lilies on the stage. Next to it, behind the lectern, Mayor Dieter Reiter and Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder spoke shortly after 1 p.m. Now there is Gisela Kollmann. She is struggling to hold her voice. “I visit my grandson’s grave almost every day,” she says. She used the financial compensation she received to create a worthy place for Guiliano. Again and again she goes to his room; to this day she could not take the subway. They are afraid of loud noises. Crowds tightened her neck. As she finishes her speech, guests stand up and clap.
The attack changed the city, Lord Mayor Reiter had previously said: It was an attack “on peaceful and diverse Munich”. But the city is sticking together. He assured the relatives: “We are here. You are not alone.” Today is a day of remembrance, said Reiter. But it is also a day on which he asks the people of Munich to resolutely oppose racism, every day. One should not forget that the murderer was not the only right-wing extremist assassin. The attack is part of the “bloody trail of right-wing terror that has run through Germany in recent years and decades and that has repeatedly reached Munich.”
The “Bavarian Alliance for Tolerance”, in which many organizations have come together, also warned of increasing right-wing terror before the memorial act. “That was a clearly politically motivated act of violence from the right,” declared Prime Minister Markus Söder – an assessment that the authorities did not, of course, until 2018. Previously there was talk of a rampage. It is a consolation to her that the act is now considered racially motivated, said Kollmann later.
The circumstances of the murders were ignored, denied and covered up, complains the mother of the killed Can Leyla
Like riders, Söder called for the fight against racism. Right-wing extremism is growing like a tumor, he said. “I always thought: Never again, that’s not just a motto, it’s a fact.” But that is not the case. Society must resolutely stand up against racism. “Everyone who lives in Bavaria deserves our protection,” said Söder. The act will never be forgotten. And again: “You are not alone.”
At the memorial, Söder and Reiter later stood together with the President of the Landtag, Ilse Aigner, and relatives; Söder dropped to his knees for a moment.
A little later Christine Rapp is there. She sits on the Moosach district committee. She walked alone through the OEZ five years ago, she says. At that time she covered the first dead person, then looked another in the eye: an incredulous face. You can see these eyes before you to this day. She would have liked the speeches, said Rapp. They came from the heart.
During the afternoon, people lay wreaths in front of the memorial, pray, sing and cry.
Before the anniversary, there had been discussions, among other things, about when the right time was to commemorate here. At 1 p.m., representatives such as Reiter, Söder and Aigner, such as the chairman of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma Romani Rose or Archbishop Reinhard Marx and the Protestant city dean Bernhard Liess came to the memorial. From 5 p.m. on, at the time of the crime, the Moosach district committee organized another memorial act with the initiative “We are all Moosach”, with chants, an interreligious prayer for peace and a minute’s silence.
Sibel Leyla, the mother of Can Leyla, who was murdered on July 22, 2016, also takes to the stage. He was only 14 years old. She used to look into her son’s eyes, says Leyla, and she felt a fear that she couldn’t explain. But now she cannot find peace. Because the reason for the death of her son is that the state has been inactive against violent and violent right-wing extremists. She said she had to experience how the circumstances of the murders were repeatedly ignored, denied and covered up, as well as being described as a rampage with wrong words. Then she can no longer. A supporter steps in and continues her speech. Right-wing extremist networks are still active, they reached into the authorities and politics, he says. The attacks in Halle, Hanau, and Munich all have parallels. Too little is being done about it.
In the end, the lawyer Claudia Neher, who represents several Munich victims’ families, stands behind the lectern. She accuses several politicians of negligence, she calls for clarification and an honest culture of remembrance. But first she asks other relatives to come upstairs. Some of them speak in Turkish, with translation. For example Haci Dağ, Sevda Dağ’s husband. He says he has never forgotten her, his wife, her face, her smell. “Even if so many years have passed, I love you as I did on the first day.” Sevda Dağ was 45 years old when the assassin murdered her five years ago.
Politicians also have their say, such as Marian Offman, once a Munich city councilor of the CSU, then the SPD, now Munich’s representative for interreligious dialogue. Offman says he lost most of his family in the Holocaust. Much of what he heard that afternoon reminded him of his own youth. Standing in front of the grave without knowing what to do. The screaming, from suffering, from anger. “I understand that.” Why was it so difficult to admit that it was a Nazi murder, Offman asks. “Why didn’t you look where you were looking?” Asks Offman. Now everyone should stick together: Muslims, Jews, Christians, everyone. “Only if everyone stands up for everyone can we prevent something like this from happening again.”
Relatives of the Hanau victims also came to Moosach on Thursday. A right-wing extremist murderer had only murdered nine people there in February 2020, as in Moosach for racist motives. Then he first killed his mother and then himself. On Thursday, the people of Hanau read the names of those murdered, those from Munich and those from Hanau, together with everyone who had come to the memorial, it’s a long line. Selçuk Kılıç, Sabina S., Armela Segashi, Guiliano Josef Kollmann, Can Leyla, Dijamant Zabërgja, Sevda Dağ, Hüseyin Dayıcık and Janosch Roberto Rafael; Hamza Kurtović, Said Nesar Hashemi, Vili Viorel Păun, Mercedes Kierpacz, Kaloyan Velkov, Fatih Saraçoğlu, Sedat Gürbüz, Gökhan Gültekin and Ferhat Unvar. “These names,” they say, “must never be forgotten.”