German racists kill five in arson attack

'THE screams woke us up. Then we saw the flames. It was horrible, I will never forget it. They were such nice people, their children played with ours. They were ordinary neighbours. What is this? You feel ashamed to be German.'

Marion Heinemann, a market trader, tried to speak calmly. But her voice cracked as she described the hideous events that she and her husband Holger witnessed in the early hours of yesterday morning in their quiet street in Solingen, north-east of Cologne.

Five Turks - two women, and three children - died in an arson attack, almost certainly carried out by extreme right-wingers, that destroyed their home. It was the worst single act of violence Germany has seen since reunification and served as a bitter reminder that the racist violence plaguing the country is far from stemmed.

Holger Heinemann gazed at the burnt-out shell of his neighbours' house where just a few hours before he had watched a woman jump to her death: 'How many children must die before the politicians do something?'

Those who died were two women, aged 18 and 27, and three girls aged four, nine and 13. The 13- year-old had just arrived in Germany for a brief holiday, from Turkey.

Three others - a six-month-old baby, a three-year-old, and a 15-year-old - were all in a critical condition yesterday. The remaining 12 occupants of the building managed to escape injury, some helped by neighbours who put up ladders to let them climb through windows. The house - two storeys and an attic space - was occupied by a single extended Turkish family. Most of them had lived there for 12 years.

Youths described as wearing the clothing of the extreme right were alleged to have been seen near the scene of the attack. Neighbours said that the field immediately behind the house had become a meeting place for right-wing skinheads in recent months.

Two thousand people, Germans and Turks, demonstrated in what was described as a 'mourning protest' in Solingen. Bunches of flowers lay in the burnt windows of the house, while firemen continued to wander about the ruins. Visitors to the site included the Interior Minister, Rudolf Seiters, who was repeatedly interrupted during his speech by angry Turks. One 24-year-old, who has lived in Solingen since he was 14, said: 'I live and work here. But how can I go on living in a country like this?'

The murders seem certain to plunge Germany back into the debate that followed the arson murders of a Turkish woman and two Turkish children in the north German town of Molln in November. The nationwide reaction to those killings - it included huge, candle-lit demonstrations - forced the previously complacent government to take the issue of racist violence more seriously. For the first time, the government found it was under greater pressure from Germans shocked by the violence than from the far right, which Helmut Kohl, the German Chancellor, had been accused of being keen to appease. Mr Kohl yesterday told the Turkish President, Suleyman Demirel: 'Most Germans are aghast at such an abhorrent deed and condemn it decisively.'

The attacks in Solingen come at a sensitive time. On the opening day of the trial of two youths accused of the Molln killings, one of the prosecuting lawyers pointed out that the arson attacks on foreigners were continuing, and it was only by chance that there had been no further deaths.

Last week saw a change to the constitution, which seeks to limit the number of foreign asylum-seekers arriving in Germany. The aim was to prevent the build-up of tensions because of a flood of foreigners arriving in the country (Germany takes more refugees than any other European country). Critics of the change, agreed by the main parties, said it pandered to the far right.

A building in Munich where 20 foreigners lived was also set on fire yesterday, though nobody died.

Neal Ascherson, page 25

(Photograph omitted)

Arts & Entertainment
Shaun Evans as Endeavour interviews a prisoner as he tries to get to the bottom of a police cover up
tvReview: Second series comes to close with startling tale of police corruption and child abuse
Arts & Entertainment
A stranger calls: Martin Freeman in ‘Fargo’
Review: New 10-part series brims with characters and stories

Arts & Entertainment
Schwarzenegger winning Mr. Universe 1969
arts + entsCan you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?
Sport
Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez celebrate during Liverpool's game with Norwich
football Another hurdle is out of the way for Brendan Rodgers' side
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
The star of the sitcom ‘Miranda’ is hugely popular with mainstream audiences
TVMiranda Hart lined up for ‘Generation Game’ revival
News
Portrait of Queen Elizabeth-II by David Bailey which has been released to mark her 88th birthday
peoplePortrait released to mark monarch's 88th birthday
Life & Style
The writer, Gerda Saunders, with her mother, who also suffered with dementia before her death
healthGerda Saunders on the most formidable effect of her dementia
Sport
Manchester United manager David Moyes looks on during his side's defeat to Everton
footballBaines and Mirallas score against United as Everton keep alive hopes of a top-four finish
Sport
Tour de France 2014Sir Rodney Walker on organising the UK stages of this year’s race
Arts & Entertainment
Jessica Brown Findlay as Mary Yellan in ‘Jamaica Inn’
TVJessica Brown Findlay on playing the spirited heroine of Jamaica Inn
News
YouTube clocks up more than a billion users a month
mediaEuropean rival Dailymotion certainly thinks so
Arts & Entertainment
The original design with Charles' face clearly visible, which is on display around the capital
arts + ents The ad shows Prince Charles attired for his coronation in a crown and fur mantle with his mouth covered by a criss-cross of white duct tape
Arts & Entertainment
‘Self-Portrait Worshipping Christ’ (c943-57) by St Dunstan
books How British artists perfected the art of the self-portrait
Sport
Luis Suarez celebrates after scoring in Liverpool's 3-2 win over Norwich
Football Vine shows Suarez writhing in pain before launching counter attack
News
People White House officials refuse to make comment on 275,000 signatures that want Justin Bieber's US visa revoked
News
Sir Cliff Richard is to release his hundredth album at age 72
PEOPLE
Sport
Lukas Podolski celebrates one of his two goals in Arsenal's win over Hull
football
Arts & Entertainment
Quentin Tarantino, director
film
News
The speeding train nearly hit this US politican during a lecture on rail safety
news As the saying goes, you have to practice what you preach
Sport
Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain (front) drives ahead of Red Bull Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo of Australia during the Chinese F1 Grand Prix at the Shanghai International circuit
sport
Arts & Entertainment
Billie Jean King, who won the women’s Wimbledon title in 1967, when the first colour pictures were broadcast
tv
News
Snow has no plans to step back or reduce his workload
mediaIt's 25 years since Jon Snow first presented Channel 4 News, and his drive shows no sign of diminishing
Life & Style
food + drinkWhat’s not to like?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Geography Teacher

£130 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Ilford: Secondary Geography Teacher Lo...

Do you want to work in Education?

£55 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Are you a dynamic and energeti...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: SEN TAs, LSAs and Support Workers needed...

Private Client Senior Manager - Sheffield

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: The Sheffield office of this...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit