Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 January 2013
SIGNS OF THE TIMES
In the 1990s a mob of extremists firebombs a shelter for asylum seekers in the German town of Rostock. A crowd of bystanders applauds. The police stand idly by. The police in the town of Mölln receive an anonymous call saying, “There's a house burning in Mühlenstrasse. Heil Hitler!” The arson attack leaves nine Turkish immigrants injured and three women dead. A patron at a bar in Wuppertal gets involved in a political argument with neo-Nazi skinheads. They trample him to death, douse him with alcohol, and set him on fire. Several Jewish cemeteries are desecrated. Synagogues and Jewish community centers are under constant police protection. At a bar in Oberhof, Thuringia, Duncan Kennedy of the American bobsled team, which is using the local training facilities, is injured by skinheads when he attempts to defend his African-American teammate, Robert Pipkins, against a crowd of fifteen. The bar is known as a meeting place of the local neo-Nazi scene; a swastika serves as decoration.
An amateur videotapes the beating of Rodney King, an African American, by officers of the Los Angeles Police Department. Despite the video document, the subsequent trial leads to an acquittal - and to the Los Angeles riots of April 1992. In Austin, Texas, a white supremacist attempts to detonate a bomb in a cinema while the movie Malcolm X is being shown. Fortunately, the bomb does not go off.