About the person
Luke Holland was born on April 4, 1984 in Manchester and was 31 years old at the time of his murder. After studying law, he first lived in Oxford and then came to Berlin after a stay in Japan. Here, his main activity was providing legal advice to young start-ups.
Luke’s father Phil Holland described his son during the trial as follows, among other things: … “He was, and should still be, intelligent, funny, hard working, helpful and caring. I did not know how caring, and loved, until over 300 people attended his funeral, the majority I did not know. … Luke worked so hard to improve his life and the lives of other people. … He had finally arrived, after his high level corporate life, where he always wanted to be, helping business’s start up, and he chose to do it in Germany. He helped 10 business’s start up in Munich, which are now thriving. He co-founded a business in Berlin, which now employs l4 people. … Luke was a benefit to Germany and Berlin, a city he loved and informed us often, was very safe, but sadly not for our son.”
Assessments of friends and relatives about Luke Holland:
- “Luke was one of the good guys. Always smiling, never a bad word to say about anyone. He brightened the lives of so many and had so much more left to give. We’ll never forget you Luke. But play some heavenly football too!” (Thomas Götz von Ber, a friend from Munich)
- “One of the kindest, intellectual and sensitive men there was. … It was a privilege to know you Luke.” (GGW, business partner)
- “Luke always cared about others. I have decided that I will make people feel how he made others feel, even though I have noticed how hard this is …, he was an amazing person, I miss him so.” (Kyoko Satamoto, a friend from Japan)
- “Luke was so special to so many people. Someone who had charisma and kindness to match his drive and intelligence.” (Tim Keech from London, Luke’s cousin)
- “Our lovely nephew Luke. With all your great achievements, all the lives you affected, all the people you supported and encouraged, and all the hearts you touched, you were way too young to depart this world.” (Brian and Linda Keech, Luke’s aunt and uncle)
- “I always thought of you as a big brother Luke, you always looked out for me and you helped me get my 1st job at the restaurant, and then you took care of me there too, love you Luke, James.” (James Mcleash, a young neighbor from Lymm Cheshire)
- “Luke and I were room-mates in Japan in 2006/7 and have remained close friends ever since. Luke made a huge, positive impact on my life.” (Matt T. from Japan)
Ringbahnstraße corner Walterstraße in the Neukölln district of Berlin, in front of the former bar “Del Rex” on the street. The crime scene is located in what is now the “nightlife district” of North Neukölln, near the Berlin Overground Station Karl-Marx-Strasse. In the past, this area was a poorer “workers quarter”, which has experienced gentrification and transformation into a hip “scene quarter” in the last ten years.
For decades, Neukölln has been a center of activity for a solidified militant neo-Nazi scene, currently known for the unsolved Neukölln series of right-wing terror, with murders and countless arson attacks, assaults and similar crimes.
The premises of the bar “Del Rex” had previously housed a rocker pub called “Starkstrom”, where the perpetrator was a regular.
On the morning of September 20, 2015, shortly before 6 o’clock, Luke Holland was standing in front of the bar Del Rex. He was on his way into the bar and had paused because he had received a call from a friend in the UK. While he was talking with him on the phone, Luke’s killer abruptly approached him and shot him with a shotgun, without any prior contact. The killer had left the bar some time earlier and had returned to the bar dressed in a long coat and armed with a shotgun.
The gunshot was not heard in the bar, but two people who left the bar shortly after the crime encountered the perpetrator standing calmly with the gun in his hand near the dying Luke Holland. When approached by these witnesses, he turned and left with a calm stride. Despite all medical measures, Luke died after being admitted to the Neukölln Hospital.
There is speculation that the perpetrator was on his way to the bar with the gun in his hand.
After the crime
On the very day of the crime, Rolf Zielezinski was arrested as the suspected murderer; weapons, explosives and National Socialist devotional objects were found in his apartment. His sister had informed the police after he had placed the murder weapon and the clothes worn during the crime with her.
Rolf Z. had already become conspicuous to the police the evening before the crime. He spent some time in a holding cell in Oranienburg after visiting the medieval festival there, drinking together with random acquaintances and threatening one of his fellow drinkers. A few hours later, he murdered Luke Holland.
The murderer Rolf Zielezinski kept silent in court – The Tiergarten District Court sentenced him on July 11, 2016, after 21 days of trial (from March to July 2016) to 11 years and 7 months in prison for the murder of Luke Holland “out of insidiousness” and for “violation of the weapons law.” “Insidiousness” could be established by the court in the case of the murderer, but the court did not want to recognize a motive for the crime. Rolf Z.’s apartment was full of Nazi memorabilia, including a bust of Hitler, various illegal professionally manipulated firearms, masses of ammunition and a kilo of black powder. According to witnesses, Rolf Z. had made derogatory comments in the Del Rex bar, which he visited from time to time, about the fact that English was spoken and also about the homosexuality of the bar owner. His racist attitudes had been confirmed by family witnesses. He shot Luke Holland while he was talking on the phone in English in front of the bar.
The court did not want to derive a right-wing motive for the crime.
The trial against Rolf Z. was accompanied by several groups, including the Initiative for the Clarification of the Murder of Burak Bektaş. The initiative had early contact with the parents Rita and Phil Holland – because there is a connection between the two murders: – about this the initiative:
“Immediately after the murder of Luke Holland (September 20, 2015), we noticed similarities to the murder of Burak Bektaş by reading the newspaper. Both the descriptions of the perpetrators and the sequence of events are similar: there is again someone, apparently an older guy, who successfully kills people and walks away from the crime scene completely relaxed. That is quite unusual behavior. The perpetrator remained at the scene and then calmly walked home. We then pointed this out to the Bektaş family’s lawyers and it turned out that Rolf Z. already appeared in the file on the murder of Burak Bektaş as a concrete indication.”
“Rolf Z. was already known to the police in 2006, during an apartment search they had found various weapons and live ammunition on him. We can assume that he was already indulging in his “passion for collecting” at that time. His name appeared near the scene of the murder of Burak Bektaş. The statements of a witness are known to the court: Rolf Z. had relatives near the crime scene and did shooting practice there. The testimony has pointed to this connection since the murder of Burak Bektaş in April 2012. And yet this track is not being followed up on the part of the court and the public prosecutor’s office.
What do the authorities already know from the 2006 file? Could a comparison of the weapons and ammunition found have possibly shed light on another murder? Or even prevented the murder of Luke Holland? Although all this is known to the court, the police, the prosecutors, why are no investigations in this direction found necessary? All hints pointing to an investigation are systematically ignored. And further still, it was said in court the file from 2006 is no longer available.”
Since the murder, the Initiative for the Clarification of the Murder of Burak Bektaş has regularly organized a commemoration on Luke’s birth and death anniversaries. Rita and Phil Holland came to Berlin several times, including for events commemorating Burak Bektaş. Both families have had and continue to have mutually supportive contact.
The consequences: The death of Rita Holland
Rita Holland, the mother of Luke Holland, passed away on Oct. 21, 2019, because she could no longer bear the pain of losing her son.
- Speech by Rita and Phil Holland in 2017, at a memorial service for Burak Bektaş in Berlin
- Press conference on the murders of Burak Bektaş and Luke Holland in 2016
- Initiative for the clarification of the murder of Burak Bektaş
- Youtube channel of the Ini