Germany Synagogue Shooter Denied Holocaust in Video Uploaded to Twitch
UPDATE 10/9: This story has been updated to include more information from Twitch and the German police.
The gunman who killed two people near a synagogue in Halle, Germany, on Wednesday appears to have filmed his attack, and the footage was uploaded to Twitch, a platform popular with video game users.
The video shows the alleged suspect, a young white male, driving to his chosen location, alone. He speaks to a camera, positioned on the passenger seat, and says, in English, “Hi, my name is Anon,” using a name that 4chan and 8chan users often call themselves. “I think the Holocaust never happened.”
The gunman goes on to spout anti-Semitic and white nationalist conspiracy theories, including blaming feminism for the “decline of birth rates in the West.”
German authorities announced Wednesday they’re investigating the possibility that the attack was ideologically motivated by far-right extremism but have yet to confirm a motive. A spokesman for the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office, told VICE News that the video circulating online was of the shooting, and that the man in the video was the suspect in police custody.
German media have identified the suspect as Stephan Balliet, a 27-year-old German citizen from the town of Eisleben, about a 30-minute drive from Halle. Authorities are still following up earlier reports Wednesday of accomplices fleeing in a vehicle, but it's understood police believe the shooter most likely acted alone.
The link to the video, viewed by VICE News, has been taken down, a Twitch spokesperson confirmed. The company later said the video was online for 65 minutes total (live for 35 and then another 30) during which time approximately 2200 people watched it.
“Twitch has a zero-tolerance policy against hateful conduct, and any act of violence is taken extremely seriously,” Brielle Villablanca, head of corporate communications at Twitch, told VICE News. “We are working with urgency to permanently suspend any accounts found to be posting or reposting content of this abhorrent act.”
The video shows the gunman, upon arriving in Halle, opening the backseat of his car which contains a large number of various weapons. He puts on a helmet, which has a recording device attached to it and picks up a rifle.
The stream from the camera mounted on his helmet shows him attempting to enter the synagogue, where 70 to 80 people had gathered for Yom Kippur services, but the door is locked. He shoots at the door, but it doesn’t give. He opens fire on a woman passing by, then tries another entrance, but fails and goes back to his car.
“I can’t shoot,” he says in English. “I tried to kill some ... [inaudible] Like the loser I am. Fuck.”
He pulls over and heads toward a kebab shop, where he opens fire. One person appears to fall to the ground. The gunman then goes back to his car and drives away.
By recording the video, the gunman appears to be emulating the white nationalist who opened fire on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in mid-March and live-streamed the deadly attack on Facebook. Videos of these attacks, or written manifestos, contribute to a growing canon of violent far-right propaganda that extremists use to inspire future attacks.
A link to the stream was shared quickly across far-right Telegram channels, where users had already claimed the gunman as a “saint” — a title reserved for far-right domestic terrorists who have carried out attacks in the past.
Joseph Cox contributed to this report.
Cover image: Police officers secure a synagogue in Dresden, Germany, Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019. One or more gunmen fired several shots on Wednesday in the German city of Halle. Police say a person has been arrested after a shooting that left two people dead. (Robert Michael/dpa via AP)