The murder of Thomas Niedermayer shows how tragedy can reverberate down the generations…

Powerful story by Allison Morris in today’s Irish News on the IRA murder of businessman Thomas Niedermayer in 1973:

THE IRA abduction and murder of Thomas Niedermayer, the German manager of the Grundig electronics plant on the outskirts of Belfast in 1973, set off a tragic chain of events that would see his entire family wiped out. Niedermayer was seized from his west Belfast bungalow on December 27 1973.

The IRA had planned to use the businessman – who was the Honorary German Consulate – to try to negotiate the transfer home of sisters Dolours and Marian Price, jailed in England for their part in a bombing campaign in London. IRA leader Brian Keenan, who had been a shop steward in Grundig’s factory in Dunmurry, is thought to have planned the kidnap.

“It came at a time when the IRA were pursuing an anti-capitalist phase, targeting businesses and businessmen. I believe this was Keenan’s strategy, he was determined to disrupt the Northern Ireland economy and he carried great influence at that time,” the author said.

Niedermayer became one of the ‘disappeared’, with the IRA denying any responsibility. However, in 1980 an informant revealed the location of the body to the RUC, hidden beneath a rubbish dump just a few hundred yards from his family home at Glen Colin forest park.

“When his body was discovered it was distressing for Ingeborg to know he’d been so close to where she and her children were living and often walked past. Grundig stopped paying the rent on her house and she was forced to return to Germany,” Mr Blake Knox said.

In June 1990, Mrs Niedermayer returned to Ireland, booked into a hotel in Bray, Co Wicklow, and walked into the sea. Her body was found washed up on a beach a few days later.

Her daughter Renate, who had opened the door to her father’s killers and woken him from his sleep, moved to South Africa and within a year of her mother’s death, she had also taken her own life.

Gabriele, the elder of his two children, also died by suicide, while a few years later her husband took his own life.

The story is based on a new book The Killing of Thomas Niedermayer by David Blake Knox, published by New Island Books.

There are all too many stories like this from all sides of the Troubles but it is always worth highlighting how these events have repercussions that can carry on through the generations. Intergenerational trauma is just one of the many issues of our past we have failed to come to terms with.