The 1980s: Deadly terrorism

In the early 1980s, immigration became a central socio-political issue in Germany. In the 1980 federal elections, several parties campaigned against allowing any further immigration. At the same time, racist violence increased enormously.

In Hamburg, the right-wing terrorist Deutsche Aktionsgruppen killed Nguyễn Ngọc Châu and Đỗ Anh Lân in a fire-bombing in 1980. Right-wing skinheads and organised neo-Nazis brutally assaulted immigrants, left-wingers and queer people. At least four other people died: Ramazan Avcı, Mehmet Kaymakcı, Rudi M. and Adrian Maleika. The attacks often took place on the street, on public transport, in pubs or in youth centres, so that the potential targets were faced with a constant threat in their daily lives.

In order to defend themselves against racist attacks and social and institutional racism, immigrants organised in associations, working groups and youth gangs. Far-right attacks also targeted left-wing centres such as the squats in Hafenstraße. Although the political motivation of many acts of violence was obvious and a number of perpetrators openly admitted to being neo-Nazis, the acts were often de-politicised in court, by the police and by politicians. Many offences had no consequences for the perpetrators. If criminal proceedings were held at all, the sentences were usually comparatively lenient.