Photos: Yücel Kurşun
When the melody of the Pink-Panther theme from Henry Mancini ends the spectators are silent for a second before the applause is roaring through the theatre. The audience is touched and moved, people rush out of the tiny stage-hall of the Kumbaracı50 to talk about the just seen.
The Istanbul audience wants to reassure. “Did they really use Mancini’s Pink-Panther-theme for their Videos?” Some visitors living in Germany are giving informations. In November 2011, more than a decade after the first murder, DVDs containing a curious recording were dropped off at the offices of several German newspapers. They featured a doctored episode of the 1960s cartoon-series, the Pink Panther, which appeared to be a message from the killers.
In the beginning, they were classified by German media as the so called “Dönermorde” – the kebab murders. The victims had little in common, apart from immigrant backgrounds and the modest businesses they ran. The first to die was Enver Şimşek, a 38-year-old Turkish-German man who ran a flower-import company in the southern German town of Nürnberg. His picture appears on a screen in the beginning of the theatre play. The actors are reconstructing the murder. On 9 September 2000, he was shot inside his van by two gunmen, and died in hospital two days later.
Tuğsal Moğul’s play “There Were Germans Among the Victims,” jointly presented by the Tarabya Culture Academy and the Goethe-Institut, premiered in Istanbul’s Kumbaracı50 on Friday 16th of February. Along with the outstanding performance of the actors Ceren Sevinç, Deniz Gürzumar and İsmail Sağır the staging of the play startles with a masterful sensitive way to orchestrate the agony of the fusion of cruelty, ignorance and stupidity around the NSU committed murders and the aftermath on stage. The three actors are rebuilding the scenery constantly, by drawing the features of the victims and the shape of a court house with chalk to the floor and walls. In the background, a screen is showing features of reality, the news about the case and the trial, pictures of the victims and a speech by Chancellor Angela Merkel. After an hour, the audience is agitated by the performance and enlightened about the possibilities of the arts opposing a disinformation circle of security forces, politicians and mainstream media.
In a strong scene one of the actors is reading police files of crimes committed by Neo-fashists in Germany. Migrants, Homeless, Punks, Leftist, normal people being at the wrong time at the wrong place or daring to oppose fashist presence in public are victims of a violence unrestrained by a security system corrupted by rightist views. When the Pink-Panther-Theme resounds at the end of the play a dark foresight on the end of the trial against Beate Zschape, the only remaining accused of the murders, is given. Nothing will be enlightened, most probably she will get released due to her long term custody.
“NSU: There were also Germans among the victims” staged in Istanbul is highly recommendable. There will be performances also on 22nd of February, 6th and 22nd of March 2018 in Kumbaracı50 in Beyoğlu.
The right-wing extremist group NSU (National Socialist Underground )carried out two bombings, 15 armed robberies and 10 murders. Their victims included Greeks, Turks, Kurds and a German police officer. Its violent crimes came to an end in 2001, when members Uwe Böhnhardt and Uwe Mundlos’ bodies were found in a burnt caravan. Beate Zschape, another member of the group, surrendered to the police four days later. The ensuing trial of the NSU has since become one of the most controversial political and criminal suits in post-unification Germany. There have been more than 400 hearings. As the case continues, the shadows in the unification process are becoming more disturbing. For years, immigrant groups were deemed to be connected with crime and the police did not accept that the murders had right-winged motives. Questions like, “What would have happened if the victims were German and the criminals had foreign names?” have also been raised.