A Perfect Crime (2020): Season 1, Episode 4 - Victim - full transcript

Political tensions in east Germany heat up after reunification and the transition from socialism to capitalism. The police botch an operation to capture an RFA member and suspect in the assassination of Rohwedder.

The Rohwedder murder

really was the perfect crime.

The way it was executed…

And now,

thirty years later,
it all remains unsolved.

One must, of course, be careful
not to lapse into admiration.

This was planned with murderous
and cold-blooded precision.

Some details just don't fit

the cold professionalism
with which this was planned:

location, timing, escape routes.

But then the amateurism

of leaving behind casings,

leaving cigarette butts,

leaving a towel.

A hair was found on the towel, but they
didn't know whose it was at the time.

From this, one might well conclude

that this was
meant to be a red herring.

This may have been
a very well-planned murder

with great forensic support. 

As the saying goes: "After the crime,
the cleaners come."

It's almost as if they brought in
a ballistics expert and a coroner

to clean everything up
at the crime scene.

Of course, that's how
it seems if you find nothing.

Either it was a professional
criminal or criminals,

or it a was broad, large-scale operation.



The German Reich.

No one intends to build a wall!

Unity and justice and freedom...

...insane attacks by barbaric terrorists.


Risen from ruins

Tear down this wall.

Our fatherland, reunited.

Flourish, German fatherland


Detlev Karsten Rohwedder
is a man who has huge plans

as the head of the powerful
and controversial Treuhand.

To get to know him better,

we've decided to play
our "fill in the blank" game.

The first half of the sentence is:

Those who want
to save jobs at any price are…

...more likely to destroy them
than to create new ones.

In business, cruelty…

...is essential.

But it should be buffered a bit
so it doesn't hurt too much.

For me, Helmut Kohl's pace
towards German Unity is…

…astonishing, but correct.

OCTOBER 3, 1990

"A dream has become a reality,"
says the Chancellor of now all Germans.

At midnight, German Unity
has become a reality.

Hundreds of thousands
celebrate the reunification in Berlin.



I met Rohwedder on the eve
of reunification at the Reichstag.

I talked to him
about his view of the future.

He said, "It's certainly difficult,

but you know, Mr. Ludewig,

I've visited the companies,
I've talked to the people there.

I'm convinced they have
enough substance to make it work.

We'll get this done. Goodbye."

And then he disappeared into the crowd.

That was about an hour, half an hour
before midnight, I remember it clearly.

Young athletes from both parts
of the formerly divided Berlin

hoist the federal German flag
in front of the Reichstag.

The bell of freedom rings
in a new era of German history.

There wasn't a single mood
across all of the GDR.

Some people said,
"We want the reunification."

And others said, "We didn't
build this country for 40 years

for it to go down the drain

and for others to take it from us."

…for the German fatherland

What alarmed me

was this great belief in Helmut Kohl,

in his promises of prosperous
landscapes and unity.

I thought, "Are you crazy?

Now it's your chance
to walk a different path."

Until then we had hoped
to embark on a "third path"

between GDR-type socialism
and West German capitalism.

But at that time, it was a country
euphoric about capitalism.

Unity and justice and freedom
For the German fatherland

Dear fellow citizens,

a few hour ago, a dream became reality.

After more than
forty bitter years of division,

Germany, our fatherland, is reunited.

As a result of our
social market economic policy,

in a few years, the former
East German states of Brandenburg,


Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt,

and Thuringia will become
flourishing landscapes.

On October 3,

there was the big "Germany, shut up"
demonstration against reunification

with 20 to 30 thousand participants.

There were a lot of West Berlin police,

who for the first time
let loose in East Berlin.

Practically the worst-case
scenario for me was reunification.

I liked the reforms. The fall
of the Berlin Wall wasn't necessary.

But, in the end,
I thought it was a good thing, too.

What really shocked me
was the reunification.

Suddenly, a country was thrust upon us

that was not who we were
and did not want to be.

I never wanted to be a citizen
of West Germany. For the love of God!

I didn't like their society.

I still don't.

I don't like the way
a lot of things were handled:

ownership, real estate,

how their laws were imposed on us,

which we didn't want.


The department store is overcrowded.

Please understand that admission
can only be granted in groups.

Don't push, please.

See how orderly the people
up front are standing in line.

Did things change for you?

Yes, the future has become more uncertain.

At work.

Everything happened too fast.

I don't really know
what you want to hear.

You know exactly the problems
we are facing here, don't you?

Can I ask what has changed for you?

The Treuhand continues
to destroy the companies,

people are unemployed.

Everything is sold off,
and we're supposed to rejoice? Really?

Don't forget...

the reports said the GDR
would be bankrupt by 1991 at the latest.

There was no market for the GDR's
automobile production anymore.

For the huge ships
built in Stralsund and elsewhere,

there was no longer a market.

There was no point
in continuing a business

if it couldn't sell its products.

There had to be a market,

like we had in the West.

This contrast between East and West…

You could really sense it
when the politicians from Bonn visited.

It was like a visit
from the Starship Enterprise.

It was like a strange force arriving.

You could tell they were uncomfortable.

They didn't know…

It's like they got a rash
when they came to East Germany.

The peaceful atmosphere

in the West, in the ministry,

the flowing fountains,
the polished floors, the silence…

That was another country,
a different planetary system.

In the morning, when you arrived
at the Berlin Treuhand office

workers were already waiting
with rods to bang on your car.

And we stand here
in front of this building.


People seem to think
we are this dark, gloomy, powerful castle

here at the Berlin Alexanderplatz.

And I'm very sorry about this.
It's a big misunderstanding.

I have to work ridiculously hard.
It's a dog's life, really.

I get to the office in the morning
when it's still dark out.

I leave at night when it's dark again,

go back to my hotel,
do some more work,

catch the last minutes of TV
and then go to bed.



But Mr. Rohwedder, most observers
didn't expect things to be so dramatic.

Unemployment is skyrocketing:

700,000 civil service jobs,

400,000 in agriculture,

550,000 in the metal
and electrics industries.

I could go on.

If there is no improvement
on the horizon soon,

aren't you afraid there might be another
revolution in the former East Germany?

Well, first of all, this is
just the beginning of the tunnel.

Now we must drive
down this tunnel a ways

without getting scared,
and then the light will appear.

I was worried
about the increasing pressure,

but not about his composure.

It was good, and he was very tough.

He could take a hit,
and he could hit back.

Politicians could hide perfectly
behind the Treuhand.

And, of course, he was an ideal scapegoat.

At the time, the papers, the TV coverage,

everyone was on a rampage.


The public pressure,
including the media, was enormous.



The mood was combative.

There had to be
consequences eventually.

Where is your personal pain threshold?
At what point would you say,

"I will no longer play a part in this?"

I'm completely irresponsive to pain.

I'm confronted with many incredible,

unreasonable demands to a degree
that none of you could tolerate.

Actually, you could say
everything here is unreasonable.

Everything is disorganized and…

dangerous and dramatic.

Right before Christmas 1990,
Rohwedder came to me

at the Ministry of Finance.

He told me he wanted to quit.

I begged him to stay.

Helmut Kohl begged him to stay, too,

and he told him, "We need you."

I tried…

to convince him to stay.

I still think of our talk back then.

It's a vivid memory.

I told Rohwedder's children,

"Had I not entreatied your father to stay,

he might still be alive today."

I have to live with this thought, but…

it was still the right thing to do

to ask him, the best man
for this job, to continue

in the interest
of the great cause, for Germany.

I guess all I can say is,

it's crucial to let people know

that the phase we're going through now…

-Mr. Rohwedder.
-will come to an end.

If we have 40% or even 50%
unemployment, Mr. Rohwedder...

We've never had such numbers in Germany,

not even during the Great Depression
or right before Hitler seized power.

I worry

that the pressure on you
and the Treuhand will grow intense.



The traditional Monday protests

have again begun to dominate
the political landscape in East Germany.

Tens of thousands gathered again today

to call attention to the poor
economic situation in East Germany.

Apparently 100,000 people joined.

A large police presence
from Bavaria and Hesse

has blocked access
to government buildings.

From March 1991, I joined regularly.

I took the evenings off
and joined the Monday protests, and…

there was a lot of anger.

There was a lot of anger
from people who were, so to speak,

the first to be
thrown out onto the street.

We say no to the Treuhand policy

which makes a mockery
of the "trust" in its name.

We say no to a policy

that sells off companies
without caring about the people.

Something was growing.

In March, 1991, a new civil movement,

maybe even a workers' movement,
was growing in the streets.

Shouts from Leipzig could be heard
loud and clear again today.

Many banners demanded
the resignation of Chancellor Kohl

and called for re-elections.

We are the people,

and we demand re-elections!

The Monday protests
are coming back to life.

Dangerous social dynamite
has accumulated, that is obvious.

Many former GDR citizens
are losing their jobs and their hope.


Chancellor Kohl
called re-election rumors absurd.

Tonight, they flocked to the streets again
despite the freezing cold.

They want to continue, every Monday,

until their demands are met.

Things continued to escalate,
and it frightened certain people.

I think it made the leaders

and the Kohl government extremely nervous.

Of course the Treuhand
was also a lightning rod.

If all that anger had exploded in Bonn,
I'm not sure Bonn would still exist today.

We have no experience
with reuniting Germany.

I hope that never again
will a German government

have to prove experience in this field.

Naturally, we must
constantly make decisions.

And we make mistakes, myself included.

Every day, tens of thousands
of unemployed protesters

flood the streets of the former GDR,
and it's still growing.

Are we not approaching
an even more difficult situation?


Whoever the killers were,

I think there could be
a larger connection.

As a politically-minded criminal
investigator, I always ask myself:

Who benefited or benefits from this?

Several scenarios are plausible,

including ones of a political nature.

For example, this hypothesis
of a third RAF generation

never really convinced me.

I mean, it might be true,
but not necessarily.

Other perpetrators could have done it,

but I would probably rule out the RAF.

I never doubted it was the RAF.

It was clear to me

that they had the political motive
and that they committed this murder.

I never had any doubt.

Nothing has changed in my assessment
or my impression of the attack.

I'm convinced it was done
by former Stasi members

and that this was a revenge killing.

It could well have been
connected with the Stasi,

to provoke the East German
working class to rise up against the West.

Finally, a third scenario
I have considered would be

that the West orchestrated
the murder by hiring contract killers.

I mean, files don't disappear
repeatedly without a reason.

State interests, secrecy,
protection of informants

are reasons often used as excuses

in order to obstruct
the public's ability to investigate.

Of course, this makes you suspicious,

this fact alone.

I assert

the Federal Criminal Police Office
and the Federal Prosecutor General

are much closer...

to solving the Rohwedder crime
than we have all been led to believe.

I myself made several inquiries.

I got the most diaphanous excuses.
"We're considering all possibilities."

When someone talks like that,
they're hiding something.

They have a solution
but don't want to disclose it,

because the solution
might reveal something

that would shake
this republic to its very core.

Now there's a lead.

At the time, investigators
found hair at the crime scene.

Using new technology,
they have now found

that one hair belongs
to alleged terrorist Wolfgang Grams.

Back when the Rohwedder murder occurred,

we couldn't use hair that was shed.

Back then, DNA analysis
could only be done on hair

that had been pulled out
with the roots and cell material attached.

Running tests on "telogen hair,"
shed hair without roots,

became possible much later.

We then used this

and were able to confirm
that it was Grams's hair.

It could be Grams's real hair.

But was it shed there naturally

or did it get there some other way?

These questions have never been answered.

If we accept that Grams's DNA

was found at the crime scene,

then it's clear Grams was involved
in the Rohwedder murder.

However, how exactly and at what time
did he leave his DNA behind

remains unanswered so far.

But he was a leading figure back then.

From 1990 until 1992,
I was Head of the State Security Unit,

responsible for the former GDR territory.

In spring 1991,

I could have arrested Grams
and his associate.

Back then, our office,

the Counter-Terrorism Unit,

had received intel from Thuringia

that these two individuals
were hiding there.

I sent one of my officers
to Thuringia to investigate,

and, depending on
the circumstances, to arrest them.

He was sent away under some pretext.

I then made a call
to the Federal Criminal Police Office,

at which point they told me
they'd deal with this matter alone.

We were not to intervene.

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.

In a shooting involving
two high-ranking RAF members

this afternoon in the town of Bad Kleinen,

the alleged terrorist
Wolfgang Grams was shot.

We had intelligence

from the Office for the Protection
of the Constitution Rhineland-Palatinate,

indicating they had succeeded

in infiltrating the command of the RAF.

I immediately set up a special task force

and instructed our operation team

to close off the area
around the Bad Kleinen train station.

Bad Kleinen was a glorious moment

for the intelligence services.

For the first time in 20 years,

they had succeeded
in placing a human source

into a terrorist organization.

We were on the phone in my office
in the Federal Criminal Police Office,

together with my deputy

and the Federal Prosecutor General.

Everyone could hear it
over the speaker phone.

I get the message "Mission completed.

We have injured persons.

The target…

The target opened fire."

A member of the special
Border Protection Unit 9

also suffered fatal injuries.

Then we learned one of our men had died

and that Grams was being removed.

He had died, too.

So, at approximately 8:00 p.m. that night,
it was clear to me

that the mission had failed.

The circumstances of the death
of the alleged RAF terrorist Grams

on Sunday remain unclear.

After the events in Bad Kleinen,
I had this feeling...

the entire affair seemed strange to me.

I thought they knew the location
of Grams and his associates,

but were willing to accept

one or two people dying that day.

The circumstances of the operation
at Bad Kleinen station

are even more confused today.

At the site of the operation,
not all the evidence has been secured.

It's still unclear
how many shots were fired.

We had a scandal on our hands.

The next Sunday, Der Spiegel
published a story about "the fatal shot."

I knew it had turned into
a public relations disaster.

They were out for blood.

That Sunday, I visited
the Minister of the Interior,

and he resigned.

Then I started to have doubts myself
about what had happened that day.

I doubted it myself.

Mr. Seiters took responsibility
for the mistakes

and surprisingly resigned from office.

Federal Prosecutor General von Stahl
will be dismissed.

After the series of mishaps
in the Grams case…

I cannot recall any other case

that caused eight or ten politicians
and high-level officials

to be forced into retirement

as a direct result of a police operation.

This was an admission of complete failure
by the entire security establishment.

Ten days after the Bad Kleinen operation,

it remains unclear who used which weapon

to shoot alleged RAF terrorist
Wolfgang Grams.

After the autopsy
of alleged RAF terrorist Wolfgang Grams

Der Spiegel reports that several missteps
have hindered attempts

to clarify the circumstances of the death.

Grams' body was allegedly
thoroughly washed,

which removed blood residue.

The investigators in Schwerin
are still missing important evidence

needed to determine the cause of death.

The entire investigation
was an instance of Murphy's Law.

Just one example...

Some of the evidence was sent
to the Zurich police in Switzerland

to show that we wanted
an objective investigation.

We let the Swiss analyze
Grams's jacket for gunshot residue.

The result was that Grams's jacket
disappeared from the Zurich institute,

never to be found again.

Thus, for some people

who are skeptical
towards the police and the judiciary,

it must have seemed
like something was being covered up,

something just wasn't right.

This mental programming,
to commit suicide in a hopeless situation,

was widespread among political figures.

Why couldn't he have killed himself

by using the weapon?

This could well have been a cover-up.

Because, to this day,
the security authorities have been unable

to answer any of the open questions

or solve any of the unsolved murders,

and also don't appear to be
overly interested in solving them anymore.

So when I look
at the Rohwedder case, I'm not too far

from calling the Grams murder

a cover-up.

The scary thing about this situation

is that a lack of transparent
or accurate information

created the impression

among the public

that there is a conspiracy in the state.

I'm almost certain the Office
for the Protection of the Constitution

withheld information from us.

I'm worried

that the security institutions

have developed a life of their own,

which could become
a danger to our democracy,

ladies and gentlemen.


When Rohwedder was shot,
I really struggled with myself.

I thought…

"Jump on any plane, just leave Germany,
because there is going to be a civil war.

They'll start fighting
and shoot each other's leaders."

It wasn't clear,
if this was just the beginning.

No one knew what might happen next.



"Dear friends,

there have been contradictory
statements in the media

regarding our protest today.

In fact, we did deliberate

whether to hold this Monday protest."

The politicians exerted
severe pressure against this protest.


Someone officially declared, perhaps
the Interior Minister or Chancellor Kohl

"It's indecent to continue your protests."



Then they had a minute of silence.

"We sympathize
with the family of the victim

and remember
Detlev Karsten Rohwedder in silence."

A minute of silence!

The emerging workers' civil movement

simply collapsed.

I believe that was our last protest.

It is quite conceivable

that there exist certain
powerful forces within Germany,

a kind of deep state.

Of course, this isn't done
by the state officially,

but by certain people from within, who
have the ability to orchestrate events.

So it could have been plotted by the West

to kill the head of the Treuhand

in order to prove the point
that the Treuhand is correct

and, in turn, undermine
the devotees of the East,

those who were anti-Treuhand.

To tell them, "See?
Your concept for society leads to death."

Already, Rohwedder's successor
as the head of the Treuhand

will be announced next week,

Minister of Finance Theo Waigel
told the press today.

The CDU politician Birgit Breuel
is the new Head of the Treuhand.

Then Mrs. Breuel came in

and shifted the focus extremely
towards a market economy solution.

Prior to that, we hadn't privatized much.

Because we had focused
on restructuring, not selling companies,

with Rohwedder leading this cause.

And then came Breuel with her clear focus

on private ownership, privatization.

Then the Treuhand gathered pace.

Mr. Rohwedder was an entrepreneur
who committed himself wholeheartedly.

We will continue our work in his spirit.

We are determined.

This means privatize quickly.

Then Mrs. Breuel gave a press conference.

Incidentally, Waigel was there
that day, but only by chance.

As acting minister,
he only visited the Treuhand once.

That says a lot.


And at the time
he seemed a like a real cold,

fucked up West German politician.

As if he thought, "Thank God,
they shot my subordinate, not me."

Something like that.

That's how he seemed
to a young person working there.

And then Mrs. Breuel?

Business as usual.

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.

With an official ceremony,
the German public today

bid farewell to the assassinated Treuhand
President, Detlev Karsten Rohwedder.

The memorial service
at the Berlin concert hall

was attended by 1,300
leading representatives of business,

culture, politics, and the church.

His wife remains hospitalized
recovering from gunshot wounds.

Germany's President praised Rohwedder
as a pioneer of German unity.

He came from both East and West.

He did not believe
there are essential differences

between East and West Germans,

yet he understood the incredible
material and human burden

that has been imposed
on our compatriots in the former GDR.

Detlev Rohwedder truly served our people.

Yes, very moving.

Politics has the ability to honor people,
as they have done here,

in a very good, grand gesture.

But politics in its daily business
is quite different,

and when someone has to go

or has to be replaced,

politics doesn't really care.

He gave his entire
reputation, his entire self.

But he also knew
the ins and outs of politics.

And politics loves hunting people.

He paid for this with his life.

He had been so proud
that he was asked to help.

This country, so brutally divided,

all those human relationships…

And to make this into one Germany again

was a matter very close to his heart.




I don't know anything about
its details and history, of course, but…

I'm pretty sure we could
turn this into something nice.