The most oppressive thing about these photographs is that they depict neither the murderers nor their victims. It is their inconspicuousness, the trivial and ordinary that make Schmeken's pictures so eerie.
Hans Magnus Enzensberger
Ten people killed by right-wing extremists between 2000 and 2007 – Dortmund, Hamburg, Heilbronn, Kassel, Cologne, Munich, Nuremberg, Rostock. The first victim, florist Enver Şimşek, was murdered on September 9, 2000 in Nuremberg; the last victim, policewoman Michèle Kiesewetter, on April 25, 2007 in Heilbronn. 22 people were injured – four of them seriously – by a nail bomb attack in Cologne. The trial of Beate Zschäpe, Ralf Wohlleben and five other allegedly involved people began in 2013 at the Higher Regional Court of Munich. The judgement is yet to be delivered; the crimes are not yet completely solved.
Regina Schmeken is one of Germany's internationally acclaimed photographers. Her work is about the perception of reality, its different levels of meaning and their condensation.
Regina Schmeken began taking photographs of the NSU (National Socialist Underground) crime scenes in early 2013. With her new exhibition project “Bloody soil. Scenes of NSU crimes” in the Bundeswehr Museum of Military History in Dresden, she seeks to commemorate the victims of the murders and to confront the public with places that, at first sight, seem to bear no traces of acts of violence. Between 2013 and 2016, she paid many visits to the twelve crime scenes in Germany. Her journeys resulted in a series of large-format, disturbingly impressive black-and-white pictures.
Eight male victims were of Turkish origin, one was Greek and one was a German policewoman. They were found on the ground brutally executed by right-wing terrorists.
In the catalogue accompanying the exhibition, Feridun Zaimoglu (a German author of Turkish origin) calls the history of the NSU a “story of great damage”. German journalist Annette Ramelsberger writes: “The journey to the crime scenes was a journey to a land of pain and tears, of indifference and callousness, and of secret gloating over the things that happened. When the NSU was exposed after ten murders, two bomb attacks and 15 robberies, everybody was convinced that such a series of terrorist attacks could never again happen in Germany. But if you observe the NSU trial, you become aware that there is no guarantee for this.”
The exhibition rises up against the oblivion. It commemorates those who were killed and requests to think about what happened and about the future common life.
ORGANIZER Berliner Festspiele / Martin-Gropius-Bau
An exhibition of the Bundeswehr Museum of Military History (MHM) in Dresden.