Germany unites to mourn hero who braved Nazi yobs
THE heroic death of an ordinary man at the hands of neo-Nazis has united Germans in a way that politicians have failed to do since the Berlin Wall came down 20 years ago.
It took the savage murder of Dominik Brunner at a suburban train station near Munich to bring together millions who are now petitioning for him to get the highest civilian honour.
All trains and buses will stop in Munich, and offices and factories ranging from BMW to Siemens, will come to a halt for a minute's silence for 50-year-old Mr Brunner when he is buried tomorrow.
On Sunday afternoon, Mr Brunner saw three thugs terrorising four youngsters aged between 13 and 15, demanding money and hurling abuse.
He intervened and accompanied them on their train, threatening to call police.
He got off with the children at Solln station near Munich, where two of the three thugs kicked and beat him. He died later in hospital from head injuries. Bystanders who could have intervened did nothing. Only the children tried to stop his attackers, who were known drug dealers.
A huge shrine of flowers and votive candles has sprung up at the spot where Mr Brunner, a businessman and father, was attacked.
His partner Claudi Loewemann wrote: "Dear Nicki, because you didn't look away, I have lost you. Thanks for the lovely years. I will always be with you and never forget you."
At the same time as Munich mourned his loss, a non-denominational service was held in a church opposite Solln station.
The chancellery in Berlin confirmed that record numbers of Germans from both east and west had called in to express their wish for Mr Brunner to be awarded the highest civilian award, the Federal Service Cross, for his bravery.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said: "He displayed the highest possible civil courage. Germans will never forget him."
Beate Merk, Bavaria's justice minister, said: "In the face of this terrible crime we need to stand strong.
"We should not be intimidated by those who commit violence.
"Civil courage means that if somebody is brave enough to stand up for something, then we cannot leave them standing alone."
Bild, Germany's biggest newspaper, chipped in with a front-page petition form yesterday for readers to cut out and send to president Horst Koehler demanding the same thing.
"He died trying to protect defenceless children," reads the form. "We demand that Mr Brunner receive the Federal Service Cross for his actions as he took his responsibility as a citizen so seriously."
Three men have been arrested in connection with his death. One of them, Christoph T, 17, has the initials NS, for national socialist or Nazi party, tattooed on his arm.
The other two, aged 18 and 19, are hangers-on in the far-right scene with convictions for assault, drugs, extortion and blackmail.
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