Speaking in Berlin on Thursday afternoon, Chancellor Angela Merkel described the shootings as “devastating crimes” and compared them to the murder of a pro-refugee German politician last summer.

Walter Lübcke was killed in his home by a suspect who had previously said that Lübcke’s pro-refugee stance was a motivating factor in why he committed the murder. He later retracted the confession and said that another individual was responsible for the shooting.

Speaking more broadly about the rise of far-right politics in Germany in recent years, Merkel said “racism is poison, hatred is poison.”

“It is still too early for a final evaluation. Everything is being done to clear up the background of these horrible murders to the last detail. But at present there is much evidence that the perpetrator acted out of right-wing extremist, racist motives. Out of hatred against people of other origins, other beliefs or other outward appearances. Racism is a poison, hatred is a poison,” Merkel said.

“I think now especially of the families and friends of the murdered,” she added. “None of us can measure the suffering that the perpetrators brought upon them. I mourn with them and express my deepest sympathy.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel gives a statement in Berlin on Thursday, following the shootings in Hanau, Germany.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel gives a statement in Berlin on Thursday, following the shootings in Hanau, Germany. Credit: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters