Niece cries out for justice for German woman killed by IRA
A German woman whose aunt was killed by the IRA is set to take her plea for justice to Stormont today - on European Day in Remembrance of Victims of Terrorism.
Heidi Hazell, wife of British soldier Clive, was gunned down by the IRA on September 2, 1989 as she was parking close to a British Army base at Unna-Messen near Dortmund in West Germany.
The 26-year-old died instantly in the attack, for which no one has ever been brought to justice.
Mrs Hazell's niece Melanie Anan arrived in Belfast on her first trip to Northern Ireland on Saturday. Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, she said the trauma and anger from her aunt's murder was something the family had carried ever since. She was just 16 when her aunt was murdered and described how she watched her mother scream and collapse at the devastating news that her only sister had been killed.
Mrs Anan is set to tell her powerful story to politicians at Stormont this morning in a bid to have the case reopened.
She told this newspaper that the German authorities had compelling evidence, including fingerprints, and a number of suspects at the time that they wanted to interview - but that the UK refused to extradite them.
"There is a perception by some people that it has been so long, why not let it go?" she said.
"It makes me really sad, but more angry. Those are the people I would like to say to, would you if you had to look at a picture of your aunt lying there, her heart pierced with a bullet?
"Her father died a few years ago without ever seeing justice for his daughter."
Mrs Anan admitted that for years she felt hostile to all Irish people, and even refused to enter an Irish pub in her home town of Bremen.
Now she says she realises it is "only a small, sociopathic group of killers", and it is important for her to come here and try and find answers.
The Anan family has been facilitated by Innocent Victims United (IVU).
Spokesman Kenny Donaldson said their story was a powerful reminder that there were victims beyond the borders of Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Britain. Mrs Hazell was one of 14 people killed by the IRA on mainland Europe during the Troubles.
"Fourteen lives, including that of civilian Heidi Hazell, were extinguished by PIRA terrorists via their ruthless campaign in mainland Europe, which saw the murders of a British ambassador, a Belgian banker, British servicemen and a six-month-old child, murdered with her father," he said. "IVU supports the efforts of Heidi Hazell's family to have her murder case reopened and we trust the authorities here will do all they can in co-operating with their German counterparts.
"We pray that the Anan family will go back to Germany understanding that Heidi Hazell is not forgotten and that there are people here who will want to assist the family in their pursuit for justice and truth." Every year since the Madrid bombings in 2004, the European Union has dedicated a Memorial Day to the victims of terrorist attacks.
For the past three years, TUV leader Jim Allister has hosted an event to mark the day at Stormont.
This year the event is co-sponsored by UUP leader Mike Nesbitt and SDLP MLA Alban McGuinness.
Mr Allister said the event would take the form of a minute of silence in memory of murdered victims, followed by some victims telling their stories. Innocent Victims United has also called on Northern Ireland's political parties to each confirm their agreement that the European Day in Remembrance of Victims of Terrorism be formally recognised and marked in the Assembly chamber.
"Formally recognising the European Day in Remembrance of Victims of Terrorism within our Assembly chamber is a tangible action which would illustrate to the people of France, Spain and every other part of Europe affected by terrorism that our political system stands shoulder-to-shoulder with all those who have been affected - in condemnation of the use of violence for the furtherance of a 'so-called political cause or other agenda," Mr Donaldson said.
Grim tally of death on European mainland
Victims killed by the Provisional IRA on mainland Europe:
Sir Richard Sykes, British Ambassador to the Netherlands, murdered on March 22, 1979.
Andre Michaux, a Belgian banker, murdered in Brussels in May 1979.
Mark Coe of the British Army murdered while off-duty outside his home in Bielefield, West Germany, on February 16, 1980.
Ian Shinner, Millar Reid and John Baxter (RAF) murdered in separate incidents in the Netherlands (Roermond and Nieuw-Bergen) on May 1, 1988.
Richard Michael Heakin, a Warrant Officer 1st Class of the Royal Regiment of Wales, shot dead on August 12, 1988 in the Belgian port of Ostend.
Steven Smith, an off-duty member of the British Army, murdered outside his home in Hanover, West Germany, on July 2, 1989.
Heidi Hazell, the wife of a British soldier, murdered in west Germany on September 7, 1989.
Maheshkumar Islania of the RAF murdered along with his six-month-old daughter Niurati while off-duty and filling his car at a fuel station in Wildenrath, West Germany, on October 26, 1989.
Nick Spanos and Stephen Melrose, Australian tourists, murdered in the Netherlands on May 27, 1990. The victims, both 24 and both lawyers, were ambushed after a meal in an Italian restaurant when they were mistaken for British soldiers.
Major Michael Dillon-Lee shot dead outside his house in the Army married quarters in Dortmund, West Germany, on June 2, 1990.
Other Troubles-related deaths on mainland Europe included:
Seamus Ruddy, who was abducted, murdered and buried in France by the INLA in 1985. Officially one of the Disappeared, Mr Ruddy (33) had been working as a teacher in Paris. It is thought his remains were buried in woodland in northern France and his family is still appealing for his remains to be found and returned.
IRA members Mairead Farrell (31), Daniel McCann (30) and Sean Savage (24) were shot dead by the SAS in Gibraltar on March 6, 1988. It was believed they were mounting a bomb attack on British military personnel at the time. The three, all from west Belfast, were shot as they walked towards the border with Spain.
'I've never seen anyone in such pain as my mother when she learned Heidi had been murdered'
Melanie Anan dissolved into tears and for a moment could not speak as she recalled the moment her mother was told that her only sister had been killed.
"There was this scream, then she just fell," she recalled.
"I had to call our doctor to give her an injection to calm her down.
"I have never since seen anyone in so much pain, that literally her heart could have stopped with the pain. That was how our ordeal started."
Heidi Hazell (nee Schnaars) is remembered widely as a beautiful, vivacious young woman who loved languages. She could speak three; German, English and Dutch.
She was born in Worpswede near Bremen in north west Germany. As a young woman, she met Clive Hazell, a British Army sergeant from Worksop, Nottinghamshire, who was stationed in Germany.
The pair were married for three years and were trying for a baby, excited about starting a life together.
But these plans were shattered in seconds by the IRA's European active service unit.
Heidi had been parking the couple's dark blue Saab in the evening of September 7, 1989 when a man in British Army fatigues approached and fired 14 bullets into her before fleeing the scene.
Around 40 people witnessed the shooting and it is understood the gunman did not even bother to disguise his face.
A doctor tried to help but it was too late, and a minister cradled the young woman in his arms in front of the shocked onlookers.
In a later statement, the IRA said they had believed the 26-year-old German woman was a member of the British Army, but did not issue an apology, instead warning civilians to "keep well clear of British military personnel".
The community close to the Army base at Unna-Messen, near to Dortmund, was well used to the soldiers.
Heidi's niece Melanie said the soldiers integrated well and often married local women.
"Heidi and Clive met when she was on a night out in Dortmund with my mum, her sister," she said.
"They were only married around three years when she was killed, they were pretty much still newlyweds." The idea that terrorists fighting for Ireland had killed Heidi added bewilderment to the family's devastation.
"For us it was a shocker. We were really quite ignorant of the IRA and whatever its objectives might have been," she said.
"We had news coverage about what was going on in Ireland, we saw houses on fire and rioting. We were not really aware of the IRA."
Now aged 41, Melanie was just 16 when her aunt was killed. She smiled as she described her as "an angel".
"She would light up a room," she said.
"She was funny, outgoing, never let anyone feel left out. Always so open and kind.
"And very beautiful, her eyes were so crystal blue, so pretty."
Heidi's murder devastated her family in Germany and her husband's family in the north of England.
It was an already turbulent time in 1989 as the infamous Berlin Wall teetered.
Just two months after Heidi's murder, it would finally come down.
On the day Heidi was murdered, her parents had been in East Germany bringing care packages to friends.
Melanie said phone interference by the communist authorities made relaying the news next to impossible.
Her uncle told her that any time he mentioned the IRA, the connection was cut.
"They did not have much in East Germany," she said.
"I remember a friend from there seeing my Walkman and being amazed at how music could come out of earphones from this little machine.
"My grandparents were in the East that day and my uncle telephoned to give them the news.
"They heard bits and pieces, but every time he tried to explain what had happened, and said the name 'IRA', the call was cut off, so they could not understand what had happened."
Melanie said for a long time she and her mother Barbara felt hostility to Ireland as the country which Heidi's killers claimed to be fighting for.
It got to to the point where she avoided buying Irish butter and refused to go into an Irish pub.
This week represents an enormous step for Melanie, taking her first visit to Ireland, supported by her husband Joseph.
He summed up the family's experience: "This thing just hasn't left her alone. You can make a description of what it is, but for me there is just not the vocabulary."