It can't have been easy for Uwe Böhnhardt's parents to have gone through being rejected by other schools who refused to take their son on account of his misdeeds, his intransigence and unwillingness to stop playing truant. "It was a bad time for us," his mother told the court.
His mother sees others as largely to blame for the situation: Upheaval resulting from reunification, school reform programs, teachers, social workers, the boss in charge of his traineeship. She was once asked by a juvenile court judge why she didn't just throw her son out? What is the right way to deal with such situations? Strictness or help to the bitter end?
"We always let our son know that we loved him and that he remained our son whatever happened, and that he could come back and that we'd always look after him," she told the court. Things a mother would say. But this mother doesn't seem able to grasp how her son turned out the way he did -- despite or perhaps because of all her care.
Uwe Böhnhardt eventually got an apprenticeship in construction. "That was alright with me," his mother said. "Someone has to build houses for the rich and the beautiful." His parents bought him a car and paid for the expensive driving lessons required to get a license. But then he became unemployed. She described how he found new friends, "nice, polite young people" such as Ralf Wohlleben, who is also being tried as an accessory to murder in the case, Uwe Mundlos and Beate Zschäpe. "All of them unemployed," said Brigitte Böhnhardt.
Ten Years? 'Not Even Pedophiles Get That'
Recalling her son's first stay in an adult remand center while still technically a minor, Böhnhardt said, "a (minor) son in a mens' prison is always going to seem a victim to his mother. I imagined the most awful things." She said it was clear from then on that her son would never again (allow himself) to be imprisoned. She remembers a visit by authorities in 1998 after the three had disappeared and how distraught she was about the possible sentences they discussed. Ten years! "Not even pedophiles who kill children get that!" she resentfully told the court.
Or perhaps five years in case of good behavior or maybe even a suspended sentence, she claimed they told her. They also mentioned that the sentence might be reduced. It seemed like a "closing down sale" to her. "Perhaps that's the public prosecutors' trick -- say really bad things and then take some of it back, just to scare a mother!" She also questioned why they wanted to put her son away for 10 years? Mundlos and Zschäpe hadn't done anything! And her son hadn't done anything either except disappear! If Brigitte Böhnhart believes that it is the public prosecutor who decides on sentencing, one can only guess what else the teacher has been telling her pupils.
Presiding Judge Götzl then incidentally referred to explosives and pipe bombs found in Beate Zschäpe's garage. "Oh, I'd forgotten that," Böhnhardt told the court, accompanied by a throw away hand gesture. She only knew about that from the media, and Uwe had told her not to believe everything written in the press, she said.