This afternoon, traffic in Hanau’s city center is idle for three hours. The bus traffic is stopped. Most shops are closed after 4 p.m. In many shop windows, the poster is connected with the burning candle and the imprint #hausaushtt! In the city squares, thousands are watching the broadcast of the central funeral service for fellow citizens, which a right-wing extremist shot dead in his racist madness on February 19.

In the nearby Congress Park Hanau, it is primarily the relatives who gather to commemorate the deceased. The Federal and Federal Council Presidents, the Chancellor, the Hessian Prime Minister with his state cabinet and representatives of churches and religious communities also came.

It will be a moving funeral service with the focus on the victims and their relatives and friends. And finally, they have their say. Kemal Kocan initially speaks for them. He tries to describe his bewilderment. “What happened is so painful in my soul, my heart is bleeding so much, I can’t describe it in words,” he says. “It was my own son’s shop,” he reports from the second crime scene on Kurt-Schumacher-Platz in Kesselstadt. He was often on-site to help out: “This kiosk was not a normal kiosk, this kiosk was a family place,” says the 45-year-old father of four.

“People came every day, not to buy, but to say hello and hug me. Now they’re all gone, ”he says, naming the names: Mercedes Kierpacz, who also helped in the kiosk. That day she was free and wanted to get a pizza for her two children. “She had a heart of gold,” says Kocan. “She liked to listen to loud music, now it’s very quiet.” Ferhat Unvar, 23, just finished his apprenticeship: “A confident young man; if you see him you may get scared because he is well built, big, but he had a heart that no-fly could harm. I can no longer see his smile. “

Capri Sun and two snack bags

Hamza Kurtović, the son of his friend who was rarely in the kiosk, but precisely on that day, Fatih Saracoğlu, whom everyone would have seen as friendly and polite people. Neighbor Kaloyan Velkov, “who leaves a big gap”, Sedat Gurbuz, who offered help to everyone. Vili Viorel Păun, who was a regular, and Said Near Hashemi: “When he came in, he wanted three Capri suns and two snack bags.”

Finally, his friend Gokhan Gultekin, whom everyone called “Gogo”, who ended every phone call and every meeting with the words: “‘ May God protect you!’ He didn’t deserve to go that way, ”recalls his friend. He gives a word to those “who are at the top of the big levers”: “I don’t want to hear many words anymore, I want to see deeds that something like this can no longer happen. Let us work together against hatred and agitation! “

Ajla Kurtovic, who has lost her brother, says: “No, I don’t feel hate. I would like to make it clear that hatred drove the perpetrator to commit a racist act. Hatred and racism are very close together. I want us all to differentiate ourselves from hatred! ”Nevertheless, she reminds of the boundless pain and emptiness that her brother’s death left behind. Finally, she demands “complete clarification so that such an act cannot be repeated”.

Said Nesar Hashemi’s sister also finds the strength to put her grief into words. Saida Hashemi thanks the city society for their sympathy. “The citizens have shown strength,” she says, recalling the fear of the night when it took hours to be certain about the names of the victims. “At that moment all of Hanau was crying,” she says. It was bitter that rumors and false information had been spread on the “social media”: “Don’t believe everything that is set before you!” She calls. Her brother was proud to be a Hanauer. The number plate of his first car ended with the digits 454, the last digits of the Hanau-Kesselstadt postcode.

As at the first funeral service, immediately after the fact, Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Prime Minister Volker Bouffier and Hanaus Mayor Claus Kaminsky express their sympathy to the relatives on this day. The Chancellor and other prominent guests of honor finally accompanied relatives of the victims to the stage to pause on the blackboard with the names of the deceased and to put white roses on them. Mayor Kaminsky reiterated the promise that the city would erect a memorial for the victims in Hanau’s main cemetery because their names “are indelibly part of the city’s collective memory”.

Near the town hall, on the edge of Friedensplatz, a graffiti sprayer has already implemented the visible commemoration. He left the hashtag #SayTheirNames in large letters on the wall of an uninhabited building on the edge of a playground. Next to it are the first and last names of all nine murder victims.

© The Eastern Herald
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Amanda Graham
News staff at The Eastern Herald. Writing and publishing news on the economy, politics, business, and current affairs from around the world.