The purpose of this young researchers group is to analyse the significance and function of the 'ancillary suit' (Nebenklage, a civil action incidental to criminal proceedings) in the Munich trial of the NSU (National Socialist Underground, a far-right terrorist group uncovered in November 2011), and its application as an instrument for protecting victims within a criminal proceeding in a constitutionally governed democracy.
Has this instrument been entirely effective in this proceeding? In what ways is its effectiveness limited here? Are there procedural deficits in regards to the resulting legitimation of Germany's democracy (cf. Salzborn 2012), which, with the media interest and international attention surrounding the case, might ultimately trigger claims of democratic deficits on the judicial level (cf. Merkel 2003, 2010)?
These questions have thus far remained unexamined in both public and scholarly discussions of the NSU trial. Here, the media has tended towards scandalizing reports; in contrast, the scholarly analysis of this young researchers group is meant to illuminate the proceedings from the viewpoint of the ancillary suit. More than seventy ancillary plaintiffs are taking part, currently represented by more than fifty lawyers. This makes them an important element in the proceedings. It is only through the ancillary case that those harmed by the crimes have an opportunity for active participation in the adjudication and resolution of these crimes, so that they can escape from the role of passive victim. This also has enormous social importance in the context of a far-right terrorist crime spree that deeply shook the confidence of the affected persons in regards to the state's protective function and its effective implementation.
The methodology of the young researchers group is guided by its central question concerning the existence of dangerous democratic deficits in today's Germany, as reflected in the proceedings of the NSU trial. According to the working hypothesis, these procedural democratic deficits can also be seen on the judicial level, as exemplified in the analysis of this trial at the Munich Higher Regional Court.
It is against this backdrop that the doctoral projects of the young researchers group will each focus on one of the following thematic areas:
1. The treatment of the roles played by the NSU perpetrators, along with their social milieu and their personal background histories;
2. The victims and their family members, not only in terms of how they are treated within the NSU trial itself, but also in the concomitant public portrayals and media characterizations;
3. The roles and functions of the court and the public prosecutor's office in the context of the NSU trial.
The grant application guidelines (in German) of the Hans Böckler Foundation (HBS) can be found at https://www.boeckler.de/112388.htm