A Perfect Crime (2020): Season 1, Episode 1 - Martyr - full transcript


APRIL 1, 1991


April 1 was Easter Monday.

I was in the newsroom until about 10 p.m.

And then headed home
to Düsseldorf-Unterrath.

That's when I noticed...

the city was full of blue lights.

Fire trucks, ambulances, police cars.

I'd never seen anything
like it in my whole career.

Not then or ever since.

I followed the police cars.

And they all drove
to Kaiser-Friedrich-Ring...

which is where the rich and famous live.

I still didn't know what had happened.

I asked a policeman,

"Can you tell me what's going on?
The whole city is on lockdown."

He said, "Not just the whole city.

All the freeways are closed.

We're imposing a dragnet."

I asked, "What could have happened?"

He said, "The worst kind of crime."

He said, "You've heard of Mr. Rohwedder?"

-"Who's Rohwedder?"
-"You don't know Rohwedder?

He's the President
of the Treuhand in Berlin.

He's liquidating the GDR."

My wife and I
had returned from a ski trip.

We were traveling
back to Düsseldorf that night.

We passed the Rohwedder house.

It was all lit up.

Twenty meters in front of the house,

I met a policeman
and asked him just one question:

"Is he dead?"


I knew what had happened.
It was unambiguous.

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.

We at ZDF apologize
for interrupting your regular program.

The reason for this interruption
is sad and shocking.

The head of the Treuhand Agency,
Detlev Rohwedder,

was reportedly killed
in his Düsseldorf apartment

on Monday evening at around 10:30 p.m.


The German Reich.

No one intends to build a wall!

Unity and justice and freedom

...insane attacks by barbaric terrorists.

For the German fatherland

Risen from ruins

Our fatherland, reunited.

Flourish, German fatherland

I was on a ski trip in Austria.

My security agents
woke me up in the night

and said, "Rohwedder has been murdered."

I had only been skiing for two days.

I'd really looked forward
to that ski trip.

He said, "Here, take your camera

and go photograph the top window."

I said, "But I can't see anything."

He said, "Just take a shot
with your flash.

You'll see what you photographed later."

I was at home when I received a call

informing me there
had been an attack on Rohwedder.

I immediately understood the situation.

Our Investigation Unit drove there.

The Crime Scene Unit was alerted.

And we immediately
got to work that very night.

Many police arrived.

At some point, the Federal Criminal
Police Office arrived.

Unidentified men took command.

And I was pushed aside.

We arrived between 3:00 and 4:00 a.m.

We went into the house
to get an initial look.

When we entered
Mr. Rohwedder's study on the upper floor,

his body was still lying there.

Mr. Rohwedder lay dead on the ground

opposite the window
in front of the bookshelf.

-Good evening, Mr. Schmock.
-Hello, Mr. Voss.

Mr. Schmok, has Rohwedder's
murder been confirmed

by the Düsseldorf
Ministry of the Interior?

Yes, it has been confirmed.

The city is in shock.

He was an exceptionally kind man.

He, however, knew the danger
he was in because of this new position.

We can be sure
that this was a political murder.

Back in the newsroom, the first thing
I did was develop the film.

I still remember clearly,

I was horrified by what I saw.

You can see the two shots
that had penetrated standard window glass.

One shot killed Karsten Rohwedder.

The second injured his wife,
who was standing behind him.

If the local police had implemented
the suggested security measures,

they would not
have installed standard glass,

but bullet-proof glass,

which would have prevented
the shots from penetrating.

To this day, I don't understand

why bullet-proof windows

were only installed
on the ground floor of his house.

In my house,

all the windows and doors were designed

to make such a direct attack impossible.

Yes, one can feel both anger and pity.

Anger and pity.

Anger, because what you wanted
to protect wasn't protected,

and pity for those who trusted the state,

and whom the state could not protect...

or did not want to protect.

This is the daily news.

The head of the Treuhand
in Berlin, Rohwedder,

has reportedly been murdered.

The Federal Prosecutor General
declined to confirm

whether the RAF
had carried out the attack.

They do not expect
to find the perpetrator soon,

or perhaps ever.

Minister of Finance Waigel,
who supervised the Treuhand,

interrupted his Easter vacation
and traveled to Bonn.

Rohwedder is, I think...

the martyr, or a martyr,

of German reunification.

So, I am deeply...

thankful for his courage...

and willingness to take on

this dangerous job at the Treuhand Agency.

For the good of Germany.


Rohwedder was the head of the world's
biggest industrial holding company.

That holding company controlled
some 15,000 GDR enterprises.

Shipyards, steel foundries,
the textile industry, chemical industry.

By Western standards,

these companies had every
problem it was conceivable to have.

Each of these 15,000 companies
needed major restructuring.

A colossal task.

It was probably the first time
that an agency, like the Treuhand

had to integrate all these companies,
to restructure, liquidate, and sell them.

Mrs. Breuel, could you give us
your reaction to the assassination?

All of the employees are very sad
and feel committed now

to continuing Mr. Rohwedder's work.

That's our job,
and we're dedicated to getting it done.


Terrible. I'm at a loss for words.

It's terrible. He was my boss.

I'm... sad.

Outraged, actually.

I've been wondering...

where were the measures to protect him?

The day after Rohwedder's murder

I came to the Treuhand office.

It was buzzing.

The wheels were still turning.

There were investors,
managers who wanted loans,

investors inquiring
about their take over bids.

And I felt totally out of place.

Just imagine:

You're working in an organization
and then the leader is shot and killed.

What kind of a sick system
does such a thing?

A man gives up
a secure position in the West

to come to the East
and tackle this whole thing.

All those braggarts
in Munich or Bonn or wherever,

comfortable and safe,
all talk and no action...

Here was a man who came here
and faced this challenge.

And they shoot him? I thought it was sick.

The economy of the former GDR
is on the brink of collapse.

The new states of Germany are facing
an ever-growing mountain of problems.

Mr. Rohwedder, many people
are wondering why you took this on.



Perhaps, we can consider
your background for some context.

You were born in 1932,
the son of a bookseller.

In Gotha, which is in Thuringia.

Did your Central German origin
influence your decision?

Yes, I've always been interested

in the so-called "new" states of Germany.

I was often in the GDR
during my time in Bonn.

Reunification has meant a lot to me

and that's why, despite all the criticism

and denunciation of my work...

I'm proud to be able to do this job.

And this allows me to see past
the difficulties we're facing.

Oversized companies,
intransigent staff, outdated machinery,

low productivity, and, above all,
products that are difficult to sell.

The Treuhand Agency is overwhelmed
by the magnitude of the problems.

-What do you think of Treuhand?
-Not much.

-Their restructuring has destroyed things,

without creating new jobs.

My wife already lost her job.

Everyone is scared.

Today, we're worse off than before.

You feel discouraged,

because you don't know
if you'll keep your job or not.

We face rapidly rising unemployment
due to a large number...

of collapsing companies.

Yes, the unemployment rate is depressing.

In some areas
it is devastating and alarming,

and the people have
every right to feel distressed,

because every worker is doing a good job

and that makes decisions
like this very hard.


don't take decisions
like this lightly at Treuhand.

Whenever we make a decision, we think
about what it means for the people.

I've worked here for 18 years.

And at the age of 43
I won't find work, anywhere.

The job center is sending me
from one place to the next.

The welfare office is doing the same.

My apartment is a hole in the wall.

I'm on the verge of a nervous breakdown.


And with just 500 marks
of unemployment benefits,

I'm at the point where I might as well
just hang myself right now.

And I'll take my kids with me. I will.

I'm telling you.
I won't leave them alone here.

Did you really turn the gas on yesterday?

I just didn't know what to do anymore.

We'll get through this.

We'll fight.




Nobody went hungry in the GDR.
Everybody had a home.

Nobody was homeless.

Things like that were
well organized in the GDR.

The companies functioned.
The people worked hard.

But it was a hamster wheel.

Nothing came of it.
It didn't produce any wealth.

If the Berlin Wall hadn't fallen in 1989,

in two, three, less than five years,
the whole thing would have imploded.

The internal structure of the system...

was collapsing from within.

No violence!

People were no longer willing to stand up
for its intrinsic values.


Thousands of mostly
young people in many cities

are demanding freedom
and political reform.

This November 9 is a historic day.

The GDR announced that
its borders are now open to everyone.

The gates in the wall are wide open.

Everyone who was in politics back then
will remember November 9

until the end of their lives.

However... amidst the joy

there was an immediate question:

And what now?

What's in the future
for the Minister of Finance?

At the Ministry of Finance,
we had already started to consider...

days in advance

what had to happen to lead the GDR
out of its devastating economic situation.

To this day, I'm still impressed
by the innovation

of our Ministry of Finance.

In 1989, the Berlin Wall fell.

From November on...

I was in a heightened state
of alertness and vigilance,

like I had never
experienced in my life.

There was a two-volume manual on the GDR.

I bought it so that I could learn
about all the different institutions.

And there were also studies
on the economy of the GDR.

I studied all of it,
and then I said to myself,

with my youthful hubris
at the age of just 44,

"Nobody knows more
about the GDR than I do now."

And I tackled things with that mentality.

It was a decisive moment,

to restructure the economic
and social order of the GDR.

So that meant...

Introducing competition, private ownership
and an independent monetary policy.

We had already thought
about all this for the people of the GDR.

On November 14, I received a call
from the Council of Ministers.

"We need you in the government."

Half an hour later,
I held the highest office of my life.

It was my second son's birthday that day.


And then it started.

I didn't sense any malice
in the national or international press.

It was rather, "She is brave."

Or, "In her line of business,
she wants to make a difference."

That was the basic tenor.

Christa Luft openly stated
the government's plan

to make a radical, yet controlled,
transition to a market economy.

We're aiming for a market economy

that proves to be economically efficient
and internationally competitive.

We wanted to allow free trade

and to support
small independent businesses.

We had passed a joint venture law
in the People's Chamber.

These things weren't just on paper,
some of them had already been introduced.

For a few weeks we really believed

that the country would
make major progress and get better.

That a GDR would develop
without the problems

of the past, meaning
the Stasi and the oppression

and the political cronyism. We thought
it would be more open and relaxed.

A sort of paradise.

And many people tried
to realize their dreams.

Every other person
opened a cafe or a bar.

They were like kids in a toy shop
who were finally allowed to play.

You could sense their joy as they said,

"Here you go, some white wine...

Yes, we're only open in the evenings."

Often they were apartments
in back buildings,

where people had started
meeting and drinking in the evenings.

Everyone did what they thought was right.

One person sold sausages,

another had salads
with olives and exotic stuff like that.

Everyone was living out their dreams
with an incredible sense of joy.

We must find our own way,
use the chance we have now.

There's a lot to change here,

but we want something different
from West Germany and capitalism.

Nations, hear the signal!

We want this
to remain our country

and we don't want anyone else
to decide its fate.

Sometimes I felt out of place

and the men felt awkward, too.

Near the beginning of my tenure
in January 1990,

I had a meeting with around 15 managers
from the former East German states.

I was the only woman!

And I had to give the introductory speech.

You've been accused
of beating around the bush,

for not using the term
"social market economy" yet.

What kind of regulatory framework
do you envision?

Come on, that's not fair.

I only had, I don't know,
three minutes to talk.

And I made it very clear

that we are working to create
a functioning domestic market

that operates according
to market principles.

That was when I met Rohwedder
for the first time in real life.

He was a giant...

an impressive figure.

He played up his experience
as a restructuring expert.

He had developed that expertise
at Hoesch, which was well-known.

Rohwedder said what needed to be done.

The GDR companies had to prove
themselves on the global market. 

That was crucial.

But not every company
had to be privatized immediately.

I believe if the GDR continues
to develop at this pace,

we will soon have a framework

that will provide jobs
and a good standard of living.

We must create a sense of a new beginning,

and this works best
if both parties cooperate constructively.

I also got the impression

that he wasn't someone
who goes in like a bull in a china shop.

He was cautious...

and considered, not zealous or vain.

But he did want to leave a legacy.

Thank you for coming.

Now back to the studio in Berlin-Wedding.

My political experience had taught me

that things had to mature
until a certain time...

like a fine cheese.

But then it has to be eaten.

Otherwise it starts
to smell and it's too late.

A process had begun, which, of course,
I wished would end in reunification.

I was completely convinced
that the GDR was worthless.

Naturally, the GDR was of another opinion.

But it didn't matter
what the GDR's assets were worth.

The truth would come out eventually.

At the end of January,

I thought I had
a viable and well-informed concept

for a monetary union.

It was a 15-page document.

It had to stay a secret
for another 14 days

until we had made
all the necessary preparations.

And in mid-February, it was time.

FEBRUARY 13, 1990



The Ministers of Economics Luft
had approached us

and demanded a special subsidy
of 15 billion Deutschmarks.

There were also some
West German politicians,

even cabinet ministers, who told me,

"Maybe instead of fifteen billion,
you could give them

ten or eight, or at least seven.

You'll have to do that."

Back then I said, "No."

We flew from Schoenefeld Airport to Bonn.

Then we took a helicopter

and landed in the garden
of the West German Chancellery.

Helmut Kohl was standing outside,
lined up with his whole team.

It felt like we were going to a funeral.

They were all quite somber.

Then we were invited in.

Half the cabinet members
were sitting in the NATO room.

Next to Kohl, sat Waigel and many others.


was sitting up front like a Buddha.


he told us how great everything was,

and how in a few weeks
it would all be complete.

And then each of us was allowed to speak.


GDR's economy is in bad shape.

However, what we need
is an injection of penicillin,

and not a lethal injection.

Give us time.

We need two, three, maybe four years

to prepare for a step like this.

Otherwise not everyone will make it."

Phew! And then he said...

Back then I said, "No.

That economic system

won't get a single pfennig or mark

However, we'll give you even more,

but only if you establish

a fundamentally different
economic and social system."

That's when we thought of...

offering the GDR a monetary union,

contingent on certain conditions.

They didn't want to hear about it.

The government
wouldn't agree to give us a penny.

Waigel said, "No.

Completely impossible.
And we need to speed all of this up too."


This was, of course,
one of the most interesting,

challenges I ever came across

in my political life,
in my life as Minister of Finance.

Never had a whole national economy

been transformed that way before.

Rohwedder warned against a monetary union
between East and West Germany.

He called it a high-risk project

that would cause many
GDR companies to go bankrupt

if they were suddenly exposed
to international competition.

This could lead
to high levels of unemployment.

We were looking for a special person
to be President of the Treuhand,

someone who could tackle
this enormous and unusual task.

And Rohwedder had
very special qualifications for the job.

Helmut Kohl and I both believed

we should ask him to take it on.

Rohwedder, CEO of the Hoesch company
based in Dortmund,

is set to privatize
the GDR's formerly state-owned companies.

It's quite likely that at first,

Rohwedder wasn't aware
of the scale of what was to come.

He hesitated about taking over
the chairmanship of the board.

I remember that.

He hesitated, but it was inescapable.

He let himself be held responsible.

He served...

Let's just say it:
He served his fatherland.



Mass layoffs began soon.

For the first time,

people who had always had secure jobs
now had to flock to employment services.

Next please!

The East Germans were crushed
by this incredible sense of frustration.

The anger towards
the Treuhand was really strong.


You're one of the most-hated
West Germans in all of East Germany.

One stroke of your pen
causes thousands of job cuts.

760,000 people have already lost
their jobs in the new German states.

How, Mr. Rohwedder, do you cope
with this on a human aspect,

when economic reasons require you

to put many people out on the street?

Rohwedder was the most threatened person

in all of Germany at the time.

The risk assessment I personally signed

was forwarded to all the security-related
authorities in Germany.

The Federal Public Prosecutor
and the Ministry of the Interior.

We came to the conclusion

that Rohwedder is a K-106 person.

This decision implies
that we categorized Rohwedder

in the highest threat level there is.

Anti-terror Concept 106.

This category stipulates:

High risk people are to be monitored
via "covert measures."

These would show whether the VIP
was being "targeted by terrorists."

The K-106 decision

meant that the local police were
to monitor Rohwedder's surroundings

and inform him of suspicious activity.

Through covert operations
we would anticipate

specific attacks on Rohwedder.

That is the purpose of K-106.

This is where the Rohwedder family lived.

It is in Villa Maximilian.

The house was in an area
where people weren't short of money.

The area is full of grand villas.

It's an area
where strangers attract attention.

Outsiders draw attention.

Even I would have attracted attention.

In 1991, when Rohwedder was murdered,

I was working
for the Düsseldorfer Express

as a crime reporter.

And I'm still there today.


The attack was planned
a long time in advance.

The way it was carried out...

It should have attracted attention.

Unfortunately, no police noticed,

and no bodyguards noticed either.

Because they weren't there.

He was secluded in that house,

and the only time he saw the police

was maybe every four hours
when a patrol car passed.



Federal Bureau of Criminal Investigation,

"Treuhand Task Force.

Safety precautions were taken
at Dr. Rohwedder's house.

It was found
that the video surveillance system,

had been switched off
on the day of the attack.

The last recordings
are from March 21, 1991."

The Rohwedder case
has been on my mind ever since.

And I had always wanted...

to speak with Mrs. Rohwedder about it.

There were two telephone interviews...

with her.

Mrs. Rohwedder complained bitterly.

Almost crying on the phone,

that her husband
would still be alive today

if more had been done
to keep the two of them safe.

"When he was brought
back home on Holy Thursday

by his two liaison officers,

I said that to them.

They responded coolly,

"What do you expect?

Are we to come across the river by boat?

We have covert investigations in place."

I suggested the house be protected
with a guard sitting at the door.

Anyway, they didn't do anything."


Now, I come to the day of the attack.

As part of the security operation,

the Rohwedder house was checked
on April 1, 1991 during the late shift

at 3:05 p.m., 5:55 p.m., 8:10 p.m.

There was no check carried out
during the night shift.

There were clear signs
that something was brewing.

The phone would ring,

but when we picked up,
there was silence.

Then our doorbell rang at night.

I looked down, but there was nobody there.

Mrs. Rohwedder was full of bitterness

that nothing had been done.

And three and a half hours later,
her husband was dead.

Preliminary report of the autopsy
of Detlev Karsten Rohwedder.

Bullet lodged in the chest,
having entered the back,

directly to the left
of the center of the body,

perforating it
from the lower left to upper right.

The thoracic spine
was transected and shattered

at the level
of the fifth thoracic vertebra,

completely severing the spinal cord.

Trachea was completely transected.

Cause of death:
internal hemorrhage.

A very disturbing image.

For such a career to end that way.

If I can put it like that.

It's also an indictment of the state...

this image.

That it was incapable

of keeping a person like that

from being killed.


At 6 p.m. this evening,

a bouquet of flowers lies on the hedge

outside the Rohwedder house in Oberkassel.

Detlev Karsten Rohwedder,
head of the Treuhand

was not given the highest level
of protection by the police.

The Chief of Police of Düsseldorf
didn't protect Rohwedder

the way he should have been protected.

They decided not to do it.

This was a willful act.

There was no coordination.

The State Criminal Police in Duesseldorf
was a very weak police force

when it came to counter-terrorism,

a very weak criminal investigation agency.

In fact, it was the weakest
in the whole of Germany.

Everyone tried to pass the blame.

I got the impression
that it was complete chaos.

That also concerned
the matter of the windows.

There was bulletproof glass
installed downstairs,

but not upstairs.

"Security employees of Hoesch,
charged with the safety measures,

responded during a telephone interview

that the Rohwedder family requested

bulletproof glass
only on the first floor."

Mrs. Rohwedder said

that they also wanted
the upstairs to be protected.

"That's my husband's office

and we want to have
the special glass there, too."

The Federal Prosecutor General
and the Bureau of Criminal Investigation,

that I questioned several times,

refused to provide any information,

saying it would impact
Germany's security interests.

Lead by
the Federal Criminal Police Office,

a special Treuhand Task Force
was established by the Düsseldorf Police.

By their own admission,
they've made hardly any progress.

They've received
more than 100 leads from the public,

but few of them were promising.

Nothing. We had nothing.

We didn't know if it was a man or a woman,

if it was two, three, or five,

whether they came by train,
car, motorcycle, or a boat down the Rhine.

I chartered a helicopter on April 3.

I wanted to document what had happened...

from the air.

It cost a thousand, but it was worth it.

I saw the crime scene from the helicopter,

because I wanted to know
how the perpetrators had arrived.

I saw the Rohwedder house
underneath me from the air.

I could still see the police barrier tape.

I could still see a lot of patrol cars.

And I could still see the chair.

It was apparently the chair
where the sniper had sat.

The sniper had hidden
in a community garden.

Armed with a gun,
he sat here on this garden chair

until his victim went into the study.

They also found binoculars
at the crime scene...

a hand towel
and a letter claiming responsibility.

The letter claiming responsibility
that was found at the scene

is still being analyzed.

We concluded the letter was authentic

and it matched our assumptions.

We had said from the start

that if there was an attack on Rohwedder,

we'd receive a justification like this.

In the letter claiming
the attack on Rohwedder,

the RAF described

how the factories

were being crushed,

and how the Western system
was being imposed on them

without any care
for the fate of the people.

Those are the exact words
you'll find in the RAF letter.

I can read it to you. I have it here.

Subtitle translation by Marisa Pettit