Oxford graduate shot dead by a German neo-Nazi in Berlin

A British lawyer was shot dead by a German neo-Nazi for simply being ‘English’ after the gunman professed to ‘hate foreigners’, an inquest heard. 

Oxford graduate Luke Holland, 31, was gunned down in the street in Berlin in September 2015 after being confronted at random by a 63-year old man.

Friends from inside the Del Rex bar where he had been socialising heard a noise they mistakenly thought was a car backfiring – but then saw him lying motionless on the pavement.

German Police later arrested self-styled ‘White Knight’ Rolf Zielezinski at a right wing rally and found Nazi memorabilia around his flat in the city’s Neukolln district.

Luke Holland (pictured with his parents Phillip and Rita at his Oxford University graduation) was shot dead in Berlin

Mr Holland was a corporate lawyer

Rolf Zielezinski

The corporate lawyer (left) was shot dead by self-styled ‘White Knight’ Rolf Zielezinski (right)

Zielezinski, a father-of-three, was jailed for 11-and-a-half years after being found guilty of murder following a trial which began in March. 

The parents of Mr Holland, from Heaton Mersey in Stockport, Greater Manchester, have now told of their battle for justice for their murdered son.

His killer, who witnesses described as wearing a long black leather jacket and cowboy hat, was seen standing nearby holding a sawn-off shotgun.

Mr Holland had just finished FaceTiming a friend when he was shot. He died on his way to hospital after suffering fatal pellet wounds to his abdomen.

The inquest was told that the corporate lawyer was fluent in Japanese and worked for legal firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in London.

But he moved to Berlin to help build up a new company with their marketing of a new product, a music technology bracelet which has the ability to help people with blindness and deafness.

His grieving parents had to hire their own lawyer to lobby German state officials to increase the charge to murder after it was suggested prosecutors were looking to charge him with manslaughter on the grounds he was drunk. 

Phillip Holland and his wife Rita claimed British Foreign Office officials refused to intervene and the couple were forced to run a gauntlet of Nazi thugs as they went to and from court to hear Zielezinski’s trial. 

At the inquest on Monday in Stockport, Mr Holland, 63, a retired communications engineer, condemned British diplomats and said: ‘We received no help from the Foreign Office and we were left on our own.

‘At first Zielezinski was going to be charged with manslaughter and would have received a maximum sentence of five years but we knew this wasn’t right.

‘We ended up getting a lawyer and we got really involved with the trial and we put pressure on the prosecutor to change the charge to murder. After a long time, he was convicted of murder and sentenced.

‘He had been heard speaking to people in bars and telling them how angry he was that nobody spoke German any more and that foreigners were coming over, and he was basically trying to share his Nazi views. 

‘Whilst we went to court in Berlin we were constantly being threatened by Nazis who would shout and scream in our faces. 

‘It was really distressing and a really difficult time to us – but we just wanted justice for our boy. Zielezinski tried to appeal his conviction but the high court refused to allow him to do so. ‘ 

Mr Holland (pictured) moved to Berlin to help build up a new company with their marketing of a new product

Mr Holland (pictured) moved to Berlin to help build up a new company with their marketing of a new product

Friends from inside the Del Rex bar where he had been socialising saw him lying motionless on the pavement

Friends from inside the Del Rex bar where he had been socialising saw him lying motionless on the pavement

His father added: ‘He was a bright young man, he was extremely ambitious. He went to Germany after he had passed his exams at Oxford whilst he was doing an MBA course.

‘He had been to talk about investing in technology companies and he wanted to continue with this as a possible career path. Instead of accepting an internship from Oxford, he decided to venture out and find his own internship.

‘He found one in Munich who worked with O2 telecommunications. He stayed there for three months then wanted to investigate further, he found a business in Berlin who were looking for investment, called ‘Rescued Idea’.

‘He offered to work for them for free for six months to help them obtain funding. He managed to raise over £1 million for this company. 

‘He helped them with employing staff, with marketing and even producing the product. He seemed happy doing that.

‘His apartment was quite expensive, and he wasn’t earning any wages, so he decided to move to a new area. 

‘He said there was a lot of young people there. He was always interested in learning about new cultures, religion, ways of life. He had a friend who was a Buddhist and he wanted to learn about Buddhism.

‘On the evening in question, he asked this friend to show him around and tell him about his religion. He went to the cinema, they went for some pizza then went to play snooker later that evening. 

‘He met another couple who were out and became friends with them, and they suggested moving in to another bar.

‘He was dancing, drinking and talking to these people, enjoying himself. He got a call from his friend back in England whose birthday it was, so he went outside to answer a FaceTime call and was on the phone with him for about five minutes.

He was shot dead outside a bar

His distraught parents have been battling to get justice for their son

Mr Holland, 31, (pictured) was shot dead by a German neo-Nazi for simply being ‘English’

His parents have now told of their solo campaign for justice for their murdered son at an inquest into his death

His parents have now told of their solo campaign for justice for their murdered son at an inquest into his death

‘After he had hung up a bang was heard. His friends inside the bar thought it was a car backfiring, or possibly fireworks.

‘They went outside to see Luke lying on the ground. They first thought he was drunk, but then they noticed a man standing a few metres away holding a sawn-off shot gun.

‘This man went inside and and asked the girl behind the bar about where the ‘other one’ was referring to his friend. The girl started screaming as she saw his gun and asked him why he had it. He replied ‘for my protection’. When Luke was taken to hospital, we were told that he died from a gunshot wound.’

Mr Holland added: ‘A criminal trial took place in Germany and he had already been interviewed a few years earlier regarding a shooting. Officers raided his apartment and found all sorts of Nazi memorabilia but he wasn’t there.

‘They found him at a White Knights convention, but it was just an alibi. He had left his gun and coat at his sisters apartment, which was round the corner from where the shooting happened. His niece found the gun and reported him to the police.’

Police coroner’s officer Rita Wilkinson said: ‘Mr and Mrs Holland helped us more than the German authorities regarding the amount of information given to us. 

‘As this wasn’t in our jurisdiction, if we got involved, it would have severely affected proceedings as they investigate differently to us.

‘Mr and Mrs Holland wanted to get the truth to come out and worked tirelessly constantly flying back-and-forth to Berlin.’

Recording a verdict of unlawful killing, coroner Alison Mutch said: ‘It is clear to see the impact Luke’s death has had, not only on his close family and friends, but also the many many lives he met whilst he had been travelling round the world.

‘He had a drive and enthusiasm for learning. He had gone to Germany to set up a company and helped build it up. 

‘He had been out with a friend for a drink and went outside to FaceTime his friend on his birthday. Not long after he was unfortunately shot at point blank range and died shortly after.

‘His parents have shown dogged determination in ensuring that justice was served in the sentencing of the attacker.

‘This was an unprovoked attack. I am sorry that I never got to meet him, he sounded like a very special young man. He will leave a huge gap in your lives and many other peoples lives.’

After the inquest Mr Holland said: ‘The Foreign Office only sent us a 25 page document on the internet which told us how to deal with a death abroad and that was it. 

‘They didn’t help get his body home, they didn’t say that we needed a lawyer, nothing.

‘They didn’t even say we could go to see him. During the trial we actually saw Rolf Zielezinski stood behind the glass. 

‘After he had been sentenced, my wife ran to the glass and banged a picture of Luke against the glass for him to see and he stared at it for 10 seconds, looked at her and only said ‘English’. He showed no remorse, and we feel nothing for him now.

‘We haven’t even had time to grieve properly as it all happened so quickly. We still feel like he is going to come home and walk through the door. He was our only son. 

‘We have lost the biggest part of our lives, and don’t know how we are going to move on from this.’

Mrs Holland added: ‘Everybody thinks ‘this will never happen to me’. 

‘But our son was shot. I just want to make it clear how this hatred, this terrorist has affected so many peoples lives. We find no beauty in Berlin now.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk