Every so often, a crime occurs that so shocks the public, while perfectly playing to the political zeitgeist, that it radically alters debates—and ultimately politics. For Germans of the baby boom generation, that crime was the murder of Benno Ohnesorg, a student protestor, in West Berlin on June 2, 1967. Ohnesorg was a 26-year-old whose young wife was expecting their first child, and his first demonstration turned out to be his last. For reasons that were never completely clear, a policeman shot Ohnesorg in the head in an unprovoked attack.
The uniformed killer, Karl-Heinz Kurras, was a veteran of Hitler’s army, a stand-in for all the things young West Germans loathed about their parents, and his crime outraged a generation. With “the shot that changed Germany,” as millions remembered it, Ohnesorg became a martyr, inspiring a left-wing protest movement and eventually even terrorism against the West German state. What made this case truly interesting is that it emerged more than four decades later that Kurras, instead of being the fascist he so ardently seemed to be, was in reality a highly prized spy—a mole—for the East German secret police, the notorious Stasi. But that, like so much else, is another story.
Another momentous murder has now come to pass in Germany, one that seems likely to upend German politics just as the Ohnesorg killing did—albeit in a different direction. The victim here is a 14-year-old girl, Susanna Maria Feldman, who is from Mainz, a regional city on the Rhine in the heart of Germany. She disappeared from her home on May 22 and, although her distraught mother filed a missing person’s report the following day, police did not commence any serious search until more than a week later, believing they had just another teenage runaway on their hands. Tipped off by a 13-year-old migrant boy living in an asylum shelter of the kind that dot Germany these days, the police soon had a suspect. Detectives found Susanna’s body on June 6, in a wooded area near railroad tracks on the outskirts of Wiesbaden, a few miles from her home. She had been raped and strangled to death.
Read the rest at The Observer …