The Blanka Zmigrod murder case
The upcoming trial could provide answers to important questions
John Ausonius is a convicted neo-Nazi murderer who holds Swedish citizenship. In 1991/92, he shot a total of 11 people of migrant origin in Stockholm and Uppsala, killing one person. Ausonius was handed a life sentence for charges of murder, eight counts of attempted murder and eight counts of aggravated robbery. In 2017, charges of a further count of murder were pressed against him in Frankfurt am Main. He stands accused of murdering 68-year-old Jew Blanka Zmigrod, shooting her in the head and robbing her in the middle of street during the night of 23 February 1992. The 22nd criminal division of the regional court has now admitted the public prosecutor’s charges and has opened the main trial. The court hearing is scheduled to commence on 13 December 2017. Making the upcoming trial as public as possible appears to be advisable for many reasons. The investigating authorities themselves worked for years on the premise that this was a murder in connection with robbery, without taking a racist and anti-Semitic motive into consideration. This is not the only parallel with the National Socialist Underground (NSU) case.
In order to avoid imminent arrest, Ausonius – like the principal three members of the NSU – travelled to South Africa from Sweden, before returning in mid-May 1992. The German Federal Criminal Police Office came across this case in 2012 while conducting investigations into the NSU and believed that there were parallels between the Swedish killer and the NSU. Ausonius lived under false identities and selected his victims according to racist criteria. Like Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Böhnhardt, he robbed banks in order to make a living, sometimes fleeing the scene of the crime by bicycle. He always hired cars for his crimes, shooting a number of his victims with a revolver and silencer. While he only confessed to his crimes in the year 2000, his racially motivated series of assassinations had already found international recognition among neo-Nazis at the time that they were committed and had achieved acclaim in the so-called Field Manual of the Blood & Honour movement, a network in which a number of already known NSU supporters were active, as a model for the right-wing terrorist concept of “leaderless resistance”. The Swedish neo-Nazi terrorist group White Aryan Resistance (WAR) produced a t-shirt that bore the inscription “The laser man – a glimmer of hope in life”, showering Ausonius with adulation in its magazine: “His name and his symbol, the red laser beam, spread fear and terror in the mixed-race society and among its architects. Is he a pioneer of a total racial war or a lone avenger (…)?” Members of WAR entertained close links with German neo-Nazis, among other individuals. John Ausonius resided in Germany on multiple occasions until his arrest in June 1992, using a German passport bearing the name of one Manfred Tilo Ulbrich, which is thought to have been issued in Dresden on 17 February 1992.
The trial to begin shortly therefore also presents an opportunity to address still unanswered questions arising in this connection and to gain a deeper insight into right-wing terrorist structures: Which other addresses of John Ausonius in Germany are known, and what contacts to activists in the neo-Nazi scene could play a role in investigations in this regard? If the passport issued in the name of Manfred Tilo Ulbrich was an officially issued document, then the circumstances under which Ausonius obtained this and whether he was in possession of further identity papers for his stays in Germany must be clarified. It has also not yet been ascertained whether computers, data carriers, calendars and the like have been retrieved and analysed in the context of the investigations and which conclusions, if any, can be drawn from any potentially isolated DNA traces.
Response from the German Government to questions posed by Martina Renner:
"Ermittlungen zum so genannten Lasermann als mögliche Blaupause für den Nationalsozialistischen Untergrund (NSU)" (Drs. <media 30081 - - "SONSTIGES, 1802432, 1802432.pdf, 183 KB">18/2432</media> und <media 36027 - - "SONSTIGES, 1812724, 1812724.pdf, 76 KB">18/12724</media>)