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A mother who sought reconciliation after a racist attack has died


BERLIN (AP) — Mewlude Gench, who worked for reconciliation after five members of her family were killed in a racist attack that rocked Germany in the early 1990s, has died.

Authorities in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia said on Sunday that Genk had died at the age of 79, without providing further details.

Genk and her husband Durmus, who emigrated from Turkey to Germany, lost their two daughters, two granddaughters and a niece when far-right extremists set fire to their home in the western city of Solingen in 1993.

Four young Germans were later convicted of murder and attempted murder. They were sentenced to 10 to 15 years in prison for the arson attack, which also seriously injured 17 people.

That attack, and others that occurred around the same period, sparked international concern about a resurgence of neo-Nazi sentiment following German reunification in 1990. Many of the victims were Turkish immigrants who came to Germany as “guest workers” after World War II.

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Despite her terrible loss, Gench called on both Turks and Germans to overcome their hatred and reach for each other.

“My family’s death should open up friendship for us,” she said during a memorial service shortly after the attack. “Let’s live together hand in hand.”

The state governor, Hendrik Wuest, said that Genk “like few people embodied faith in the goodness of people.”

“Her legacy will live on,” he wrote on Twitter. “Our thoughts are with her family.”

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, copied or distributed without permission.


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