Hanau shootings

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Hanau shootings
Part of right-wing terrorism in Europe
Hanau shootings2020Targets.svg
Locations involved in the shootings
LocationHanau, Hesse, Germany
Coordinates50°07′59″N 08°54′48″E / 50.13306°N 8.91333°E / 50.13306; 8.91333Coordinates: 50°07′59″N 08°54′48″E / 50.13306°N 8.91333°E / 50.13306; 8.91333 (first crime scene)
Date19 February 2020 (2020-02-19)
22:00 (CET)
TargetShisha bar patrons
Attack type
Deaths11 (including the perpetrator)
PerpetratorTobias Rathjen

The Hanau shootings occurred on 19 February 2020, when eleven people were killed and five others wounded in a terrorist shooting spree by a far-right extremist targeting two shisha bars in Hanau, near Frankfurt, Hesse, Germany. After the attacks, the gunman returned to his apartment, where he killed his mother and then committed suicide.[4] The massacre was called an act of terrorism by the German Minister of Internal Affairs.[5]


The shootings took place at around 22:00 local time (UTC+1) on 19 February 2020, in two shisha bars—one at the Midnight Bar in Hanau's central square, and the other at the Arena Bar & Café in Kesselstadt. Reports showed that both bars are mostly frequented by Turks and Kurds.[6][7][8] The attacker first started aiming at three guests, followed by the waiter who had just served them.[9] The police initiated a large-scale investigation.[10] It was initially reported that the suspects were at large.[11] The gunman, later identified as Tobias Rathjen, then drove home where he shot his mother while his father was able to escape.[9] He then shot himself.[9] He and his mother were discovered by police at 05:15 the next day when they gained entry.[12]


The nine people killed by the attacker during the two shootings were identified as: four Germans Gökhan Gültekin (37), Ferhat Unvar (23), Mercedes Kierpacz (35), Said Nesar Hashemi (21) (two of whom had Kurdish origins, another of Sinti origins, and another with Afghan nationality), Sedat Gürbüz (29) and Fatih Saraçoğlu (34) two Turks, Hamza Kurtović (22) a Bosnian, Kaloyan Velkov (33) a Bulgarian, and Vili Viorel Păun (22) a Romanian.[13][14][4] The owner of one of the shisha bars was among the victims.[15] Three immediately died in the first shooting, five immediately died in the second,[16] and a ninth victim died in hospital the next day.[17] The attacker shot and killed his German mother (Gabriele Rathjen, 72) before committing suicide.[18]

Two Turkish-Germans, an Afghan-German and a Cameroonian-German were among the five people injured.[19][20]


The gunman was identified as 43-year-old Tobias Rathjen, a far-right extremist.[21][22] On his personal website, he published a racist manifesto and posted videos showing his political and misogynist beliefs, accused US President Donald Trump of stealing his slogans,[23] promoted extreme eugenics and expressed frustration that due to his psychological issues he could never experience an intimate relationship with a woman.[24] Rathjen stated he had been guided by voices inside his head since birth and he was being followed by secret agents.[25] Rathjen expressed a hatred for migrants, especially for people from the Middle East, Central Asia, Southeast Asia and North Africa.[26][27] He also expressed a hatred for German citizens who allowed immigrants into their country, and considered them as "impure".[28]

According to Germany's general prosecutor Peter Frank, Rathjen had contacted German authorities with his conspiracy theories three months before the attack: on 6 November 2019, Rathjen had written a letter to the Public Prosecutor General urging action against a "secret service" organisation, which he claimed was tapping into people's brains to control world events. He called on authorities to "approach me and communicate with me". No action was taken in response. Parts of this 19-page letter were virtually identical to his 24-page manifesto published on his website in February 2020, but it was unclear whether it included any threats against ethnic minorities.[25][29][30]

Near the Arena Bar, text linked to the perpetrator's website was found written in graffiti on a wall before it was covered over by police.[29]


Federal prosecutors are treating the attack as terrorism, with officials saying there is evidence the gunman was a far-right extremist, as well as signs of xenophobic motives for the killings.[11] Peter Beuth, the Minister of the Interior in the state of Hesse, stated on 20 February that a website found by investigators indicated a right-wing political motive for the shootings.[31] A letter and a video clip of a confession were reportedly discovered and are being analysed by the police.[32]


As a result of the shootings, German Chancellor Angela Merkel cancelled a planned trip to Halle and expressed her condolences to the victims' families.[33] The president of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, also offered condolences.[34] Some Turkish citizens were among the victims of the shooting; the Turkish government described it as a form of racism and urged a prompt investigation.[35] German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier, his wife Elke Büdenbender, and the Hesse minister-president Volker Bouffier attended a vigil at one of the shooting sites.[36][37] Pope Francis extended his sympathy to the families who lost their loved ones during the shooting incident in Hanau, through the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.[38]

On 23 February, 10,000 mourners marched through the streets of Hanau, in order to show unity and support for the victims.[39] The mayor of Hanau gave a speech to the gathering.[40][41]

On 24 February, in response to the shootings, the United Kingdom proscribed Sonnenkrieg Division, the British branch of the American neo-Nazi organisation Atomwaffen Division, as a terrorist group. Another UK-based far-right organisation, System Resistance Network, was also proscribed as an alias for National Action, which had been proscribed as a terrorist organisation since 2016.[42][43]

On the one year anniversary of the attack (19 February 2021), large memorial services and rallies were held in multiple cities in Germany to commemorate the victims, warn against racism and demand further action. President Frank-Walter Steinmeier attended a ceremony in Hanau condemning hate and racism while acknowledging mistakes by authorities.[44]

In The Media[edit]

In March 2022, it was announced by filmmaker Uwe Boll that he was writing and directing a fictionalized portrayal of the shootings as a feature film. The movie, titled Hanau, has been described by the filmmaker as "an intense psychogram[45]" of Rathjen. The independent film is expected to be released to digital streaming services Amazon Prime, Apple TV+, and Google Play in the United States and Canada in Q4 2022.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Hanau-Attentäter bestellte Tatwaffe in Onlineshop". RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland (in German). 20 February 2020. Retrieved 20 February 2020.
  2. ^ SPIEGEL, Matthias Bartsch, DER. "Anschlag in Hanau: Attentäter schoss mindestens 52-mal". www.spiegel.de.
  3. ^ "Terroranschlag von Hanau: Sie klagen an". Zeit. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
  4. ^ a b "German gunman calling for genocide kills 9 people". AP NEWS. 20 February 2020.
  5. ^ "Tysk minister om skudmassakre: Ja, angrebet i Hanau var terror". DR. 21 February 2020.
  6. ^ Oltermann, Philip; Connolly, Kate (20 February 2020). "Germany shooting: far-right gunman kills 10 in Hanau". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Archived from the original on 19 February 2020. Retrieved 20 February 2020.
  7. ^ "Mehrere Menschen sterben durch Schüsse in Hanau". Der Spiegel (in German). Archived from the original on 20 February 2020. Retrieved 19 February 2020.
  8. ^ "Germany shooting: 'Far-right extremist' carried out shisha bars attacks". BBC News. 20 February 2020. Archived from the original on 20 February 2020. Retrieved 19 February 2020.
  9. ^ a b c Oltermann, Philip; Harding, Luke; McKernan, Bethan (20 February 2020). "'He shot our children': how the Hanau attack unfolded". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 21 February 2020.
  10. ^ "POL-OF: Großfahndung der Polizei in Hanau". presseportal.de (in German). Archived from the original on 20 February 2020. Retrieved 19 February 2020.
  11. ^ a b "Germany shooting: Nine dead after two attacks on Hanau shisha bars". BBC News. Archived from the original on 20 February 2020. Retrieved 19 February 2020.
  12. ^ "Eleven dead, including suspect, after Hanau attacks – as it happened". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 20 February 2020. Retrieved 19 February 2020.
  13. ^ Germany, hessenschau de, Frankfurt (21 February 2020). "Opfer des Anschlags: Neun junge Hanauer, mitten aus dem Leben gerissen". hessenschau.de. Archived from the original on 22 February 2020.
  14. ^ Associate Press (20 February 2020). "Germany's Immigrant Community in Hanau Reeling After Attack". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2 March 2020.
  15. ^ Connolly, Kate; McKernan, Bethan (20 February 2020). "Bar staff and pregnant woman reportedly among Hanau victims". The Guardian.
  16. ^ "Mehrere Menschen im hessischen Hanau erschossen - Täter möglicherweise flüchtig". Deutsche Welle. Archived from the original on 19 February 2020. Retrieved 19 February 2020.
  17. ^ Schmidt, Nadine; Gray, Melissa; Davis, A.J.; Rappard, Anna-Maja (20 February 2020). "Nine killed at two shisha bars in Germany in suspected far-right attack". CNN. Archived from the original on 20 February 2020. Retrieved 20 February 2020.
  18. ^ "Police probe whether racist German killer had help". BBC News. 20 February 2020.
  19. ^ "Hanau-Morde: Zeuge schildert die schrecklichen Szenen - Video von Überwachungskamera aufgetaucht". merkur.de. 22 February 2020.
  20. ^ "Germany boosts security against far-right threat". BBC News. 21 February 2020.
  21. ^ "Has Germany done enough to tackle far-right violence?". BBC News. 20 February 2020. Retrieved 20 February 2020.
  22. ^ Hume, Tim (20 February 2020). "'Not a Classical Neo-Nazi': What We Know About the German Hookah Bar Terrorist". Vice News. Instead, judging by the material he posted online, Tobias Rathjen appears to have been driven by a toxic mix of racist, conspiracist, and incel ideology, and likely suffered from serious mental health problems, experts say.
  23. ^ Bostock, Bill. "The mass shooter who killed 9 in Germany published a racist manifesto where he identified as an incel and accused Trump of stealing his populist slogans". Insider.
  24. ^ "Terror in Hanau: Die kranke rassistische Gedankenwelt des Tobias R." RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland (in German). 20 February 2020. Retrieved 20 February 2020.
  25. ^ a b Connolly, Kate; Oltermann, Philip (20 February 2020). "Hanau attack reveals 'poison' of racism in Germany, says Merkel". The Guardian.
  26. ^ Farrell, Paul (20 February 2020). "Tobias Rathjen: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know". Archived from the original on 20 February 2020. Retrieved 20 February 2020.
  27. ^ Moody, Oliver (20 February 2020). "Germans slow to tackle far‑right threat". The Times. Archived from the original on 20 February 2020. Retrieved 20 February 2020.
  28. ^ Moody, Oliver. "Germans point finger at AfD for Hanau shisha bar murders" – via www.thetimes.co.uk.
  29. ^ a b "Hanau: Germany boosts security amid far-right threat". BBC News. 21 February 2020. Archived from the original on 22 February 2020. Retrieved 22 February 2020. Germany will deploy extra police to protect mosques, railway stations, airports and other sensitive sites because of a "very high" far-right threat following the Hanau killings, the interior minister says.
  30. ^ "Was bislang über die Tat in Hanau bekannt ist". Der Tagesspiegel (in German). 20 February 2020. Retrieved 20 February 2020.
  31. ^ "Hessens Innenminister sieht Hinweise auf rassistische Gesinnung". Der Spiegel (in German). 20 February 2020. Archived from the original on 20 February 2020. Retrieved 20 February 2020.
  32. ^ "Suspect, 1 Other Found Dead After 9 People Killed in Germany". 19 February 2020 – via www.bloomberg.com.
  33. ^ Nadine Schmidt; Sheena McKenzie. "Nine killed at two shisha bars in Germany in suspected far-right attack". CNN News. Archived from the original on 20 February 2020. Retrieved 20 February 2020.
  34. ^ "Germany shootings: Federal prosecutors take over Hanau investigation — live updates". Deutsche Welle.
  35. ^ "Germany in shock and rage: reactions to the shooting in Hanau". Deutsche Welle. 20 February 2020.
  36. ^ Knight, Ben (20 February 2020). "Vigils across Germany after Hanau shooting". Deutsche Welle. Archived from the original on 23 February 2020. Retrieved 23 February 2020. Dozens of vigils have been organized in towns and cities across Germany after the deadly shooting in Hanau.
  37. ^ Kaschel, Helena (21 February 2020). "Shootings in Hanau: 'We aren't safe anywhere'". Deutsche Welle. Archived from the original on 22 February 2020. Retrieved 22 February 2020. A day after a gunman killed nine people with an immigrant background in Hanau, the western German city is grappling with anger, fear and mourning.
  38. ^ "Pope's condolence for victims of shooting in Germany - Vatican News". www.vaticannews.va. 21 February 2020.
  39. ^ "10,000 mourn victims of racist shooting rampage in Hanau, Germany | DW | 23.02.2020". DW.COM.
  40. ^ "10,000 Protesters Mourn 9 People Killed by Immigrant-Hating Shooter in Germany". Time. Archived from the original on 24 February 2020.
  41. ^ Betz, Bradford (23 February 2020). "Thousands mourn victims of Germany shooting massacre with massive march". Fox News.
  42. ^ correspondent, Jamie Grierson Home affairs (24 February 2020). "UK to ban neo-Nazi Sonnenkrieg Division as a terrorist group" – via www.theguardian.com.
  43. ^ "Terrorism Act 2000". Schedule 2, Act No. 11 of 2000.
  44. ^ Welle (www.dw.com), Deutsche. "Hanau shooting: Steinmeier condemns hatred and division | DW | 19.02.2021" – via www.dw.com.
  45. ^ Boll, Uwe (4 March 2022). "Hanau | Apple TV". AppleTV. Retrieved 20 July 2022.

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