The firefighters could have saved the victims if they arrived at the scene on time and followed the instructions of the family on how to enter the flaming house said Mevlude Genc who lost her 2 daughters, 2 granddaughters and a niece in one of the worst racist attacks in German history on May 29th 1993 in the city of Solingen.
“Firefighters came very late. As they arrived, we tried to show them which door to use to enter the burning 3 floor house but they ignored our instructions. They could have saved my kids if they listened to us,” said 75 years old Mevlude Genc recalling the details of the horrific night as tear drops rolled down on her cheeks. She asked her son Bekir who was severely injured in the fire to leave the room during our interview because the Genc family has never spoken about the night in front of him. That is because Bekir has the most scars of the racist attack among the survivors. His body was severely burnt and he was in coma for 22 days after the incident.
The small monument where the massacre took place
25 years after the attack, there is no sign left at the property to remind people of the horrific massacre other than a small monument which goes unseen most of the times. The house have been demolished in the following years with the permission of the family. Filled up with big trees, the property looks now as if there has ever been any structure at all let alone being the scene of a brutal racist attack. “I was in so much pain from what we suffered 25 years ago, I thought I would be relieved if the house is gone. I can easily tell I made a mistake. I would have never allowed them to demolish it,” says Mevlude Genc.
25 years have gone by, but the memories of the massacre still haunts the family. They have a security camera outside of their new building which sits just a few kilometers away from the attack scene. And the windows of the first floor are bulletproof. “I thought the pain would ease as the time goes by but it only grows,” says Mevlude while sipping her Turkish tea. She has been criticized by some of her neighbors for not even speaking German despite living there for almost 40 years. But she has always refrained from saying a word which could deepen the racism issue in German society and put the Turkish community in danger. She even tried to play a positive role in mending ties between Turkey and Germany as the two countries suffer the worst relations in recent decades. “They (German authorities) first did not want anyone from Turkish government this year, but I said I want representatives from both of my countries to attend the memorials,” she said as she was talking about German media’s recent report about the matter.
Kids ride bicycles by the property where the massacre took place
Solingen massacre was only one of the series of racist attacks in Germany during 90s. And in 2000, a terror group named NSU carried out its first murder after which it would kill 7 more Turks. Police would adamantly overlook blatant racist motives for years and focus on internal Turkish matters to solve the murders. It was only in 2011 when Germann public made aware of the neo-Nazi terror group, only after NSU self-incriminated.
Almost 40 mosques have been attacked in Germany in the past 3 months. As Ramadan starts on May 16th, the mosques will be filled every night as Muslims pour to the mosques for daily Ramadan prayer. The Genc family has been a practicing Muslim and they too face similar threat as German authorities have failed to protect their right to worship.
Genc family has pictures of both Turkish and former German president on their wall
The Genc family has been invited by the German President Frank Walter Steinmeir to Berlin on May 25th four days before the anniversary. It will be Germany’s new president’s first time meeting the Genc family. 75 years old Mevlude thinks it is an important positive step to eliminate racism not in just Germany but also in all of Europe.
Ahmet Hamdi Sisman