Door II – Racist Terror Attack in Hanau: The Perpetrator’s House

After murdering nine people, the perpetrator fled to his house in Kesselstadt. Police only arrived around an hour later, and they did not enter the house for more than four hours. During that time, the perpetrator murdered his mother, then killed himself, foreclosing any possibility of accountability.

Our investigation, presented for the first time here, examined documents from the case files, including statements by witnesses and police, plans and reports, as well as a first analysis of police helicopter footage, to map police movements, and raise questions about their conduct.

We show that while the police knew the perpetrator’s address from shortly after the attack, his house was not properly secured or surveilled for much of the night.

The police outside the house claimed not to have heard gunshots. In 2021, efforts by the families and the Initiative 19. Februar Hanau revealed that 13 of the officers on the scene that night had been part of far-right group chats. The perpetrator’s father, who is known to share the racist views of his son, insisted he only heard shots coming from outside the house.

Part of this investigation therefore was a ‘sound experiment’, designed with acoustic experts, to examine the claims made by the father and the police.

We found that the father lied in his testimony to police. We also found that if the shots inside the house were fired when the official investigation claimed, officers should have heard them.

Given that this official timing might be erroneous, we also examined the audibility of the shots throughout the night. We found that for long period throughout the night, the shots could have been heard, and that the police were not in the position they should have been to secure the house.

Our investigation will support the longstanding demands for clarification and consequences concerning pervasive racism in Hessen’s police. Its findings will be shared with the ongoing parliamentary inquiry in Hessen.

Forensic Architecture, London & Forensis, Berlin / Initiative 19. Februar Hanau


Principal Investigator: Eyal Weizman
Researchers-in-charge: Dimitra Andritsou, Robert Trafford
Research: Ashkan Cheheltan, Julian Brack, Georgia Skartadou, Christoffer Horlitz, Emily Dische-Becker
Video Production: Cynthia-ël Hasbani
Filming: Marcin Wierzchowski, Peter Peiker, Laura Gist, Pola Sell
Sound design: Emil Olsen
Research Support: Nicholas Masterton, Christina Varvia, Lola Conte, Alican Aktürk
Project Support: Sarah Nankivell, Elisabeth Breiner, Sarah Hammerl, Veronika Nad
Expertise: Grant Waters, Eduardo Manzano (Anderson Acoustics); Nic Jentzen-Jones (Armament Research Services); Dr. Stephanie Walcott, Dr. Tal Simmons, Dr. Michael Pollanen
Translation: Fabian Wolff
Our thanks to the members of the Initiative 19. Februar Hanau and the Frankfurter Kunstverein who helped us to produce our sound experiment, as well as to the residents of the experiment house.
This investigation was produced with the support of Frankfurter Kunstverein and Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin.