Tobias Rathjen killed 10 people in Hanau, Germany, on the night of February 19.
Rathjen, 43, has been described as “xenophobic” by a police spokesperson. A manifesto, a well as videos, were left behind by the victim, showing his political beliefs and theories surrounding Donald Trump, eugenics as well as identifying himself as an incel.
The city of Hanau is located in Western Germany, 12 miles east of Frankfurt. The city has a population of close to 100,000 people.
Around 10:00 p.m. local time, police say that Rathjen began opening fire at a shisha bar in the city. Rathjen continued his attack at a second shisha bar, which was close to his home. After witnesses identified the suspect’s car, police tracked Rathjen to his home.
Inside of his apartment, investigators found Rathjen dead alongside his mother, 72, around 4:00 a.m. local time. Both had been killed of gunshot wounds.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. German Authorities Say Rathjen Had a ‘Hostile Attitude to Foreigners’
In total, police believe Rathjen killed 10 people, including his mother. Germany’s main tabloid, Bild, reported that witnesses say Rathjen rang a doorbell at the first location, the Midnight shisha bar, and once inside, killed six people. Those victims were described as five men and one woman. Five of those victims died at the scene, another later died due to wounds.
Another person shot at the scene remains in critical condition. Bild identified one of those killed as a 35-year-old mother of two.
The newspaper says that at the second location, the Arena Bar & Cafe, Rathjen killed three people outside of the bar. Witnesses reported hearing at least 12 gunshots outside of the Arena Bar & Cafe. The locations are 1.5 miles from each other.
The German interior minister, Peter Beuth, told the media that Rathjen had a “hostile attitude to foreigners.” Beuth added that Rathjen had left behind a manifesto of his political motivations. The Bild report says that Rathjen had extra ammunition inside of his car as well as a hunting license to carry a gun.
2. Rathjen Had Called for the Extermination of People From North Africa, Central Asia & the Middle East
Kings College London Professor, Peter Neumann, wrote on Twitter that Rathjen’s manifesto was 24 pages long and indicated that the suspect had a third-level education. The Guardian later reported that Rathjen completed a business management degree at the University of Bayreuth in 2007 having previously worked as a bank clerk in Frankfurt.
Neumann said that Rathjen called for the extermination of persons from the Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa. Rathjen did not name Islam or any other religion by name, Neumann said.
Neumann also wrote that Rathjen’s manifesto featured “various, but mostly extreme-right views, with a do-it-yourself ideology, cobbled together out of parts found on the internet. The pattern is clear, and not at all new.”
Neumann said that Rathjen believed that certain races were superior to others. The suspect wrote that he was an incel and that he had not had a relationship with a woman for more than 18 years. Rathjen says this was by choice. Typically, incels believe that they are victims of “involuntarily celibacy.”
Neuman tweeted that Rathjen exhibited signs of paranoia, believing that he was under surveillance by security forces who were not the German security forces but another shadow organization. Rathjen also believed that U.S. President Donald Trump and Liverpool F.C. soccer coach Jurgen Klopp had “stole his ideas.” This led Rathjen to believe it was his rhetoric that allowed Trump to win the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election.
Neumann concluded by writing that Rathjen didn’t seem like someone who posted regularly on internet forms but rather, “More like someone who spends all night watching conspiracy videos on YouTube. Far-Right and incel and what seems like a significant mental health issue.”
3. On February 14, Rathjen Released a Video Aimed at American Citizens
On February 14, Rathjen uploaded a video that aimed at American citizens. In the video, Rathjen speaks in English. Rathjen alleges that the U.S. is under the control of “invisible secret societies.” He accuses them of being “evil” and using a “modern system of slavery.”
Rathjen urges Americans to “wake up, quick.” He says that there are deep, underground military bases where the devil is worshipped and children are murdered. Rathjen says this is “reality” and that it has been going on for some time. Rathjen tells Americans to “turn-off the mainstream media.”
Rathjen says is the “duty” of Americans to gather people together, locate the bases and “storm them.” Rathjen concludes by saying that Americans need to “fight now.”
4. A Kurdish Association in Germany Believes German Authorities Aren’t Doing Enough to Combat Right-Wing Extremism
The Kon-Med association of Kurds in Germany told the AFP in a statement that “several” victims are of Kurdish origin. In that statement, the group expressed their “fury” at German authorities for not combatting far-right politics in the country.
Turkish tabloid Hurriyet has said that multiple Turkish-natives were shot dead. The newspaper says that the victims at the Arena Bar & Cafe were a Turkish person, 20, a Bosnian person, 20, and a Polish waitress, 20. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a statement following the attack, “We expect German authorities to make maximum efforts to investigate the incident.”
Less than a week prior to Rathjen’s rampage, 12 members of a right-wing extremist organization were arrested. Security forces in Germany believed the group was planning a large scale attack on mosques in the country. In the aftermath of the shooting, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a speech, via the BBC, “Racism is a poison. Hate is poison. And this poison exists in our society and it is to blame for too many crimes.”
Variety reports that the shooting has raised serious security concerns ahead of the Berlin Film Festival which is due to begin on February 20.
5. Germany Has Some of the Strictest Gun Control Laws in the World & One of the Lowest Gun-Related Death Rates
Germany has some of the strictest gun-control laws in the world and also has some of the lowest gun-related death rates. Gun control is administered via the Waffengesetz, the German Weapons Act. The first version of the act came to fruition in 2003 following the deaths of 16 people in a school in the city of Erfurt. The law means that gun use is restricted to those who can demonstrate a reasonable need for a firearm.
Fully automatic guns are completely banned. Owners of guns are required to have liability insurance. As recently as December 2019, the German parliament unveiled new laws that required gun owners to undergo screening every five years. Those with mental illness and criminal records are banned from owning guns.
A common meme that alleges that the holocaust occurred during World War II due to Nazi-enforced gun-control has largely been disproved as fake.