Look Away

A True Story of Murders, Bombings, and a Far-Right Campaign to Rid Germany of Immigrants


By Jacob Kushner

Read by Samantha Desz

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  1. Audiobook Download (Unabridged) $27.99
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From a journalist and foreign correspondent, the harrowing history of how an economic crisis and far-right extremists catalyzed a shocking resurgence of violence in 21st-century Germany.

Not long after the Berlin Wall fell, three teenagers became friends in the East German town of Jena. It was a time of excitement, but also of economic crisis: some four million East Germans found themselves out of jobs. The friends began attending far-right rallies with people who called themselves National Socialists: Nazis. Like the Hitler-led Nazis before them, they blamed minorities for their ills. From 2000 to 2011, they embarked on the most horrific string of white nationalist killings since the Holocaust. Their target: immigrants.
Look Away follows Beate Zschäpe and her two accomplices—and sometimes lovers—as they radicalized within Germany’s far-right scene, escaped into hiding, and carried out their terrorist spree. Unable to believe that the brutal killings and bombings were being carried out by white Germans, police blamed—and sometimes framed—the immigrants instead. Readers meet Gamze Kubaşık, whose family emigrated from Turkey to seek safety, only to find themselves in the terrorists’ sights. It also tracks Katharina König, an Antifa punk who would help expose the NSU and their accomplices to the world.  A masterwork of reporting and storytelling, Look Away reveals how a group of young Germans carried out a shocking spree of white supremacist violence, and how a nation and its government ignored them until it was too late. 

  • “Jacob Kushner’s Look Away is, at one level, a compelling true-crime thriller about a trio of German terrorists on the run. But it’s also a warning about the dangers of white supremacy and right-wing extremism – and about how the fear and hatred of immigrants, combined with the incompetence (or worse) of law enforcement, remains a threat around the world.”
    Jeffrey Toobin
  • “This fascinating book tells two stories: first, how a gang of East German thugs turned neo-Nazi ‘bomb tinkerers’ grew into a network of domestic terrorists, and second, how German authorities let them get away with murder. Jacob Kushner tells the story with cautious condemnation and intimate detail.” 
    Michael Scott Moore, author of The Desert and the Sea
  • “Jacob Kushner delivers a harrowing account of right-wing radicalization and violence in modern Germany. This expertly reported story of three friends who committed unspeakable hate crimes is a cautionary tale about ignoring the lessons of history and realities of the present. Kushner reminds us that we can't build a better world without taking a full and accurate stock of the one we have now. Look Away is an urgent book.”
    Seyward Darby, author of Sisters in Hate
  • “With meticulous reporting and an unflinching eye, Jacob Kushner brings to horrific life the story of a white nationalist killing spree in East Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall. With a novelist’s skills for drama and scene, Kushner shows the dangers of complacency in the face of gathering violence. Such terrible truths, so deftly told, remind us why we should not—and cannot afford to—look away.”
    Kim Cross, NYT bestselling author of In Light of All Darkness and What Stands in a Storm
  • "Jacob Kushner's Look Away is a damning account of a problem seen in the U.S. and around the world: how law enforcement's obsession with informants can blind them to real threats of domestic terror.”
    Trevor Aaronson, author of The Terror Factory
  • “Jacob Kushner’s Look Away is a riveting account of one of contemporary Germany’s most brutal crimes: the serial murders of nine immigrants by a trio of neo-Nazis in the early 2000s. Kushner meticulously reconstructs the young psychopaths’ progression from assault to bank robbery to homicide, and the circle of fellow racists who abetted their crimes. Above all this is an indictment of the racist, incompetent cops who ignored the killers hiding in plain sight, and chose to stigmatize the victims and their families. A searing and infuriating read of a nation still grappling with the ghosts of its past.”
    Joshua Hammer, author of The Falcon Thief
  • “Jacob Kushner’s Look Away has the pacing and taut prose of a crime thriller while also managing to be a smart and thorough analysis of right-wing extremism in Germany. The book moves deftly between the story of a band of neo-Nazis who systematically murdered immigrants and the larger picture of the society that bred them and the German officials who consistently failed to see the string of killings for what they were: a connected series of hate crimes.”
    Alexander Stille, author of The Sullivanians
  • “A chilling account of the rise of neo-Nazism and xenophobia in Germany, Look Away is a warning to all of us that white supremacist terror remains a global threat. Jacob Kushner is a masterful storyteller who never loses sight of the humanity of his story’s immigrant victims and their families. An important and urgent book.”
    Julia Lee, author of Biting the Hand
  • “Discomfiting as it is meticulously researched, Look Away is not just a terrifying window into revived German extremism but a warning to the world—a reminder that, at the end of the day, violent racial authoritarianism knows no borders.”
    Jonathan M. Katz, author of Gangsters of Capitalism: Smedley Butler, the Marines, and the Making and Breaking of America’s Empire
  • "A must-read for anyone who wonders how terror plots come together and why powerful leaders ignore them. Kushner's natural, commanding voice recalls the classic nonfiction writers John Hersey and William Langewiesche, and the depth of his reporting is only exceeded by the streamlined, engrossing way he tells his story—a story about the questions that lie at the heart of politics in so many societies: what is "terror" and who are its real victims?"
    Eve Fairbanks, author of The Inheritors
  • "Jacob Kushner's account of a white nationalist, neo-Nazi killing spree in Germany is both exceedingly well-written and deeply reported—a fascinating and disturbing book."
    Peter Bergen, author of The Rise and Fall of Osama bin Laden

On Sale
May 7, 2024
Hachette Audio

Jacob Kushner

About the Author

Jacob Kushner is a foreign correspondent who writes magazine and other longform articles from Africa, Germany, and the Caribbean. His writing has appeared in dozens of publications, including the New York Times, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Harper’s, The Economist, National Geographic, The Atavist, The Nation, Foreign Policy and The Guardian. He is the author of China’s Congo Plan, which was favorably reviewed in the New York Review of Books. A Fulbright-Germany scholar and Logan Nonfiction Fellow, he was a finalist for the Livingston Award in International Reporting. He teaches and advises ambitious, young journalists at the Pulitzer Center, the Overseas Press Club, and several universities.

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