Memory still alive of 1993 German arson attack on Turkish family

Wed, 29 May 2024 6:24 GMT
‘We are facing the same danger today,’: Lawyer compares current political environment with climate in 1993.
Memory still alive of 1993 German arson attack on Turkish family

The pain of the Genc family in Germany is still fresh more than three decades after tragedy struck. 

Kamil Genc, 60, managed to escape from his home after it was set on fire by racists in an arson attack in Solingen on May 29, 1993.

He lost five family members in the fire: two daughters, two sisters and a nephew.

“That day was of course a very bad day, what happened then is not likely to be forgotten,” he told Anadolu. "Since then, there have been courts, our new house was built, and here we are today. Thirty-one years have passed, but it feels like a day to us. I was 29 years old that day and now I am 60. Of course, our pain is great, my hair was black that day, today it is white.”

Stressing that the family regretted having theie house demolished at that time and that they wanted a museum built in its place, Genc said they established a new association upon the will of his mothe,r Mevlude Genc, who died Oct. 30, 2022, and they started plans on work to build a museum.

“In this house, we lost my two daughters, 5-year-old Saime and 9-year-old Hulya, my two sisters Gursun and Hatice, and my aunt's daughter, Gulustan, who came to us as a guest. Gulustan had come to us as a guest for two weeks. She said, ‘Let me not go for a more while,’ but it was not meant to be, she also passed away here.”

He said politicians have a lot of work to do to end racism in Germany.

“Politicians, first of all, need to destroy the Nazi groups in parliament. As long as these are in the parliament, racism is increasing more and more. My wish is unity and solidarity. As long as we are united, no one can destroy us,” said Genc,

He invited everyone to a May 29 commemoration ceremony on the anniversary of the deaths.

“Some years we hold a commemoration ceremony with 50 people. Most of our people are insensitive. We call on everyone who has time to attend -- come and stand with us. Support us so that the German public opinion can see that we are united.

"We expect everyone to attend the commemoration ceremony on May 29th,” he said.

Can Genc, 20, whose father was severely injured in the arson, said although he was born 11 years after the tragedy, he grew up in the pain his elders experienced and told him about.

The younger Genc underlined the commonsense words of his grandmother, Mevlude Genc, who was one of the symbols of this disaster.

“Never hate, always be good, let no one's nose bleed. Let's always live in unity and solidarity,” she said.

Those words will guide them for a lifetime, he said.

Fatih Zingal, a lawyer from the Frankfurt Bar Association, who was born in Solingen, said he was 14 when the attack occurred. eG was influenced by it and chose the law profession to fight “against injustice and lawlessness.”

Pointing out that it is useful to remember in which conjuncture it took place, Zingal said: “At that time, East and West Germany had just reunited and refugee politics was on the agenda. This issue was constantly being covered on TV and in the media and discussed among people.

"'We don't want refugees' was said and a very bad political climate was created, just like the political climate regarding refugees today. People sometimes feel the need to act on the rhetoric of politicians and this can sometimes end up in murder. Therefore, we are facing the same danger today.”

Zingal noted that four Bulgarians of Turkish origin, including two children from the same family, were killed as a result of arson in Solingen on March 25, 2024.

“Unfortunately, four of our compatriots lost their lives here.

"Immediately after the incident, a quick statement came from the security forces saying: 'This is not a racist attack.' We find this wrong. The reason is that the process will determine whether it is a racist attack or not, and we ask the security forces to act more sensitively, particularly if such an incident occurs in Solingen,” he said.

Solingen tragedy

On May 29, 1993, in Solingen, in the North Rhine-Westphalia State of Germany, the Genc’s family home on Untere Werner Street was set on fire and five victims were killed in the attack.

Perpetrators Markus Gartmann, Felix Kohnen, Christian Reher and Christian Buchholz were released after serving prison sentences.

The attackers, whose identities have been changed and kept secret, continue to live in Germany.


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