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Hanau shootings

Coordinates: 50°07′59″N 08°54′48″E / 50.13306°N 8.91333°E / 50.13306; 8.91333
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Hanau shootings
Part of right-wing terrorism in Europe
Locations involved in the shootings
LocationHanau, Hesse, Germany
Coordinates50°07′59″N 08°54′48″E / 50.13306°N 8.91333°E / 50.13306; 8.91333 (first crime scene) 50°07′51″N 08°53′9″E / 50.13083°N 8.88583°E / 50.13083; 8.88583 (second crime scene)
Date19 February 2020; 4 years ago (2020-02-19)
21:55 - 22:00 (CET, UTC+1)
TargetEthnic minorities
Attack type
Mass shooting, spree shooting, mass murder, domestic terrorism, hate crime, matricide, murder–suicide
Deaths11 (including the perpetrator and his mother)
Injured6 (3 by direct gunshot)
PerpetratorTobias Rathjen

The Hanau shootings (German: Anschläge in Hanau) occurred on 19 February 2020, when nine people were killed and five others wounded in a terrorist shooting spree by a far-right extremist targeting three bars and a kiosk in Hanau, near Frankfurt, Hesse, Germany.[1] After the attacks, the gunman, identified as Tobias Rathjen, returned to his apartment, where he killed his mother and then committed suicide.[2] The massacre was called an act of terrorism by the German Minister of Internal Affairs.[3]


The shootings began at 21:55:43 CET (UTC+1) on 19 February 2020, at the La Votre Bar in central Hanau.[4] Upon entering the bar, the attacker fired multiple shots and shot a bartender to death with a CZ 75 pistol. He exited the bar and shot a man to death outside on the sidewalk. He entered the neighboring Midnight Bar and fired three shots from the doorway. One of the shots hit the owner of the Midnight Bar, killing him.[5][6] At least eight shots were fired during the incident, though witnesses say they heard about a dozen gunshots.[7][8] Just after the attacker shot up the Midnight Bar, he switched to his SIG Sauer P226 and confronted a man outside a kiosk. He pointed his gun at him repeatedly while asking if he was a foreigner. The man didn't respond and the attacker ran off. The attacker rounded the corner of the Heumarkt onto Krämerstraße and fired several shots at the car of Vili Viorel Păun. Păun briefly reversed before pursuing the shooter.[9] The shooter turned another corner and tried to enter a kiosk. He left after realizing no one was present in the building. The shooter ran back to his car. Păun tried blocking his path, but the shooter drove ahead of him which initiated a car chase.[10] Three people were killed on Heumarkt.[11]

The attacker left the scene and drove to the Arena Bar & Café in Kesselstadt, some 2.5 km (1.5 mi) away.[12] During the drive, Păun tried to call 110 five times with two unsuccessful attempts. During the three successful attempts, he was only met with silence on the other end of the line as the dispatcher receiving the call left to respond to the shootings on Heumarkt.[13] Upon arriving there, the gunman got out of the car and fatally shot Păun who was sitting in his vehicle, then entered a kiosk adjacent to the bar, where he killed three people. He then entered the bar itself and opened fire as patrons were attempting to flee, killing two more people and wounding three others. According to one of the survivors, those who were present attempted to hide in the bar's storage room, but discovered that it was locked, as was the rear emergency exit. A reconstruction of the shooting by Forensic Architecture later determined that those inside the bar would've had ample time to flee if the emergency exit was unlocked.[14] The gunman then left less than a minute after entering the bar. Six people were killed at the Arena Bar and adjacent kiosk, and three others were left wounded.

Following the shootings, the police initiated a large-scale investigation.[15] It was initially reported that the suspect was at large.[16] The gunman then drove to his home near the Arena Bar where he shot and killed his mother with two shots, before fatally shooting himself in his room in the basement. His father was left unharmed; an investigation by Forensic Architecture revealed that the father stayed in his home and even used his computer during the police standoff. He was looking up his son's manifesto.[17][18] It is believed the suspect murdered his mother as an act of "mercy-killing" as she was suffering from a neurological condition that left her bedridden.[19] The attacker, who was identified as Tobias Rathjen, and his mother were discovered by police at 05:15 the next day when they gained entry into the home.[20]


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.[21][22][2] Both Velkov and Păun were members of the Romani communities in their home countries.[23][24] The owner of one of the shisha bars was among the victims.[25] Three immediately died in the first shooting, five immediately died in the second,[26] and a ninth victim died in hospital the next day.[27] The attacker shot and killed his German mother, Gabriele Rathjen (72) before committing suicide.[28]

Two Turkish-Germans, an Afghan-German and a Cameroonian-German were among the five people injured.[29][30]


The gunman was identified as 43-year-old Tobias Rathjen (1977 – February 19, 2020), a far-right extremist.[31][32] 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,[33] promoted extreme eugenics and expressed frustration that due to his psychological issues he could never experience an intimate relationship with a woman.[34] Media outlets often described Rathjen as an incel or "involuntary celibate"; however, researcher Meredith L. Pruden and colleagues say he is more accurately characterized as an adherent of the male separatist Men Going Their Own Way.[35] Rathjen stated he had been guided by voices inside his head since birth and he was being followed by secret agents.[36] In his manifesto, he expressed extreme hatred for migrants, especially for people from the Middle East, Central Asia, Southeast Asia and North Africa, calling explicitly for their "complete extermination".[37][38] He also expressed a hatred for German citizens who allowed immigrants into their country, and considered them as "impure".[39] In the videos he recorded and his manifesto, Rathjen also talked about the "secret service" that stalks humanity and compared his actions to that of Edward Snowden. There was also evidence that he had considered attacking a school filled with students from migrant backgrounds. In the weeks leading up to the shooting, he told a private detective and his father to spread the word about his personal website.[19]

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.[36][40][41]

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.[40] The graffiti were also found in six other locations in and around Hanau.[19]

The perpetrator legally owned three firearms. A fourth weapon- one of the guns that was used in the shooting- was reportedly borrowed from a gun trader the day prior to the attack.[42]


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.[16] 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.[43] A letter and a video clip of a confession were reportedly discovered and are being analysed by the police.[44]


Memorial plaque in memory of the victims
Memorial plaque remembering the victims, located next to the first crime scene in downtown Hanau
A temporary memorial to the victims of the 2020 attacks created in Russell Square, London in 2023

As a result of the shootings, German Chancellor Angela Merkel cancelled a planned trip to Halle and expressed her condolences to the victims' families.[45] The president of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, also offered condolences.[46] 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.[47] 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.[48][49] 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.[50]

On 23 February, 10,000 mourners marched through the streets of Hanau, in order to show unity and support for the victims.[51] The mayor of Hanau gave a speech to the gathering.[52][53]

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.[54][55]

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.[56]

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" of Rathjen.[57] The film, titled Hanau (Deutschland im Winter - Part 1) was released on March 4, 2022, to unfavorable reviews.[58]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Röbel, Sven; Wiedmann-Schmidt, Wolf (27 November 2020). "Hanau-Anschlag - neues Gutachten zum Täter: Psychisch krank – und ein Rassist". Der Spiegel (in German). ISSN 2195-1349. Retrieved 29 September 2022.
  2. ^ a b "German gunman calling for genocide kills 9 people". AP NEWS. 20 February 2020.
  3. ^ "Tysk minister om skudmassakre: Ja, angrebet i Hanau var terror". DR. 21 February 2020.
  4. ^ "Polizei bestätigt acht Tote durch Schüsse in Hanau". Der Spiegel (in German). 20 February 2020. ISSN 2195-1349. Retrieved 4 June 2024.
  5. ^ Oltermann, Philip; Harding, Luke; McKernan, Bethan (20 February 2020). "'He shot our children': how the Hanau attack unfolded". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 4 June 2024.
  6. ^ "Anschlag von Hanau: Neue Eigentümer wollen Shisha-Bar wieder öffnen". www.fr.de (in German). 2 June 2020. Retrieved 16 June 2024.
  7. ^ Oltermann, Philip; Connolly, Kate (20 February 2020). "Germany shooting: far-right gunman kills 10 in Hanau". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 4 June 2024.
  8. ^ "Germany shooting: What we know about the Hanau attack". 20 February 2020. Retrieved 4 June 2024.
  9. ^ Gezer, Özlem; Neshitov, Timofey (18 February 2021). "The Hanau Protocols: Aftermath of a Deadly Racist Attack". Der Spiegel. ISSN 2195-1349. Retrieved 17 June 2024.
  10. ^ Frankfurter Kunstverein (8 June 2022). Lecture by Forensic Architecture/Forensis – Forum kollektiver Wahrheitsfindung. Retrieved 17 June 2024 – via YouTube.
  11. ^ https://mediendienst-integration.de/fileadmin/Dateien/One_Year_After_Hanau_Factsheet_English.pdf
  12. ^ "Germany shooting: 'Far-right extremist' carried out shisha bars attacks". 19 February 2020. Retrieved 4 June 2024.
  13. ^ kata (9 February 2023). "Von einem Organisationsversagen der Polizei, das die Verantwortlichen systematisch vertuschen wollten". Initiative 19. Februar (in German). Retrieved 16 June 2024.
  14. ^ Forensic Architecture (21 December 2021). Hanau Attack Emergency Exit (Preliminary Investigation; EN). Retrieved 4 June 2024 – via YouTube.
  15. ^ "POL-OF: Großfahndung der Polizei in Hanau". presseportal.de (in German). Archived from the original on 20 February 2020. Retrieved 19 February 2020.
  16. ^ a b "Germany shooting: Nine dead after two attacks on Hanau shisha bars". BBC News. 19 February 2020. Archived from the original on 20 February 2020. Retrieved 19 February 2020.
  17. ^ Forensic Architecture (15 September 2022). Racist Terror Attack in Hanau: The Police Operation (EN). Retrieved 16 June 2024 – via YouTube.
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ a b c Kupper, Julia; Cotti, Patricia; Meloy, John (April 2023). "The Hanau Terror Attack: Unraveling the Dynamics of Mental Disorder and Extremist Beliefs". Journal of Threat Assessment and Management – via American Psychological Association.
  20. ^ "Eleven dead, including suspect, after Hanau attacks – as it happened". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 20 February 2020. Retrieved 19 February 2020.
  21. ^ 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.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  22. ^ Associated 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.
  23. ^ Ryšavý, Zdeněk (22 February 2020). "Another victim of the German terrorist attack, a young man from Romania, is also from the Roma minority - Everything about Roma in one place". Romea.cz - Everything about Roma in one place (in Czech). Retrieved 27 June 2023.
  24. ^ "Say their names". We Migrants. 21 February 2021. Retrieved 27 June 2023.
  25. ^ Connolly, Kate; McKernan, Bethan (20 February 2020). "Bar staff and pregnant woman reportedly among Hanau victims". The Guardian.
  26. ^ "Mehrere Menschen im hessischen Hanau erschossen - Täter möglicherweise flüchtig". Deutsche Welle. Archived from the original on 19 February 2020. Retrieved 19 February 2020.
  27. ^ 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.
  28. ^ "Police probe whether racist German killer had help". BBC News. 20 February 2020.
  29. ^ "Hanau-Morde: Zeuge schildert die schrecklichen Szenen - Video von Überwachungskamera aufgetaucht". merkur.de. 22 February 2020.
  30. ^ "Germany boosts security against far-right threat". BBC News. 21 February 2020.
  31. ^ "Has Germany done enough to tackle far-right violence?". BBC News. 20 February 2020. Retrieved 20 February 2020.
  32. ^ 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.
  33. ^ 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.
  34. ^ "Terror in Hanau: Die kranke rassistische Gedankenwelt des Tobias R." RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland (in German). 20 February 2020. Retrieved 20 February 2020.
  35. ^ Pruden, Meredith L.; et al. (2022). "Birds of a Feather: A Comparative Analysis of White Supremacist and Violent Male Supremacist Discourses". Right-Wing Extremism in Canada and the United States. Palgrave Hate Studies. Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 228. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-99804-2_9. hdl:1887/3485435. ISBN 978-3-030-99804-2.
  36. ^ a b Connolly, Kate; Oltermann, Philip (20 February 2020). "Hanau attack reveals 'poison' of racism in Germany, says Merkel". The Guardian.
  37. ^ 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.
  38. ^ 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.
  39. ^ Moody, Oliver (14 September 2023). "Germans point finger at AfD for Hanau shisha bar murders" – via www.thetimes.co.uk.
  40. ^ 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.
  41. ^ "Was bislang über die Tat in Hanau bekannt ist". Der Tagesspiegel (in German). 20 February 2020. Retrieved 20 February 2020.
  42. ^ Knight, Ben (6 November 2022). "Germany plans to tighten gun control". dw.com. Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 20 February 2023.
  43. ^ "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.
  44. ^ "Suspect, 1 Other Found Dead After 9 People Killed in Germany". Bloomberg. 19 February 2020 – via www.bloomberg.com.
  45. ^ Nadine Schmidt; Sheena McKenzie (20 February 2020). "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.
  46. ^ "Germany shootings: Federal prosecutors take over Hanau investigation — live updates". Deutsche Welle.
  47. ^ "Germany in shock and rage: reactions to the shooting in Hanau". Deutsche Welle. 20 February 2020.
  48. ^ 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.
  49. ^ 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.
  50. ^ "Pope's condolence for victims of shooting in Germany - Vatican News". www.vaticannews.va. 21 February 2020.
  51. ^ "10,000 mourn victims of racist shooting rampage in Hanau, Germany | DW | 23.02.2020". DW.COM.
  52. ^ "10,000 Protesters Mourn 9 People Killed by Immigrant-Hating Shooter in Germany". Time. Archived from the original on 24 February 2020.
  53. ^ Betz, Bradford (23 February 2020). "Thousands mourn victims of Germany shooting massacre with massive march". Fox News.
  54. ^ correspondent, Jamie Grierson Home affairs (24 February 2020). "UK to ban neo-Nazi Sonnenkrieg Division as a terrorist group". The Guardian – via www.theguardian.com.
  55. ^ Terrorism Act 2000 (11, Schedule 2). 2000.
  56. ^ Welle (www.dw.com), Deutsche. "Hanau shooting: Steinmeier condemns hatred and division | DW | 19.02.2021" – via www.dw.com.
  57. ^ Boll, Uwe (4 March 2022). "Hanau | Apple TV". AppleTV. Retrieved 20 July 2022.
  58. ^ Boll, Uwe (4 March 2022), Hanau (Deutschland im Winter - Part 1) (Drama), Bolu Filmproduktion und Verleih, retrieved 28 March 2023

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]