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Arson Attack on Turkish Families in Mölln (November 24, 1992)

In September 1991 right-wing extremists attacked housing facilities for asylum seekers in the Saxon city of Hoyerswerda. The attacks were the prelude to a wave of xenophobic violence that spread through Germany in the early 1990s, rearing its ugly head in both East and West alike. Violence against foreigners claimed seventeen lives in 1992, including those of two Turkish women and a Turkish girl killed in an arson attack in Mölln, a small town in Schleswig-Holstein. An account of the attack follows. After Mölln, the violence continued: in May 1993, skinheads in the city of Solingen in North Rhine-Westphalia set fire to the home of a Turkish family, killing five of its members, among them three children.

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“My Children are Burning!”
For three people, there was no escape after the arson attack in Mölln

Someone left flowers, dark red carnations and white daisies. Loosely bundled, they are leaning against what used to be a window display. Until two years ago a Turkish grocery store was located here, after that, just residential housing. Now the glass from the display window is shattered, and a shovel, broom, and debris lie in front of the building. Two large black leather bags, probably from the criminal police, sit next to the soot-blackened entrance. Two firefighters in a gondola attached to the end of an extended aerial ladder hover above the building’s roof truss, which has been stripped of its tiles and blackened by the smoke.

This is house number nine on Mühlenstrasse in Mölln, a pastel-colored brick building. It is located right in the center of this tiny city, which, with its red brick buildings and cobbled streets, would make a thoroughly suitable decal of a German provincial idyll, and which chose a fitting patron for itself in the figure of Till Eulenspiegel.* It is only a couple hundred steps from Mühlenstrasse to Hauptstrasse, the main street, which is already decorated for Christmas, and to the market square.

An extended Turkish family by the name of Arslan, which included about 25 members at last count, lived at Mühlenstrasse no. 9 for more than twenty years – until Sunday night. “They were always very nice and courteous,” said Erika Fröhlich, a seventy-year-old neighbor. “We never had any trouble with them – on the contrary.” The Turkish neighbors helped the disabled elderly lady by shoveling snow, for example. That’s why Erika Fröhlich and other neighbors can’t fathom the crime committed against the residents of Mühlenstrasse no. 9. “This hate has got to stop,” she said.

On Sunday night, alleged right-wing extremists committed an unprecedented arson attack in the middle of Mölln, first on the building at Ratzeburger Strasse no. 13, where eight Turkish and Kurdish families – a total of 43 people – live, and then, half an hour later, at Mühlenstrasse no. 9. [That night] sobbing and frightened women and men stood at the windows of the two flaming buildings; others converged on the street.

* Till Eulenspiegel is a famous character from German folklore – eds.

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