Dozens of New Year attacks on Berlin firefighters, police officers, Germany
Firefighters in the German capital, Berlin, have reported multiple attacks while trying to do their job. Across the country, there were reports of violence on a "terrifying" New Year for many emergency staff. Berlin's Fire Department said its emergency crews had been attacked 38 times as the city rang in the New Year. There were attacks in other parts of the county as well as numerous instances of revellers being injured as many Germans celebrated with their first turn-of-year firework displays since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
In a series of incidents in Berlin, 15 emergency responders were injured with one of them needing hospital treatment. 41 police officers were hurt.
The police department said 18 of its officers had been hurt in the unrest.
Berlin's firefighters had to respond to 1 700 calls over the evening and into the morning, only to be met with violence on numerous occasions. The fire department reported that assailants had shot fireworks and thrown beer crates at crews, and had also looted fire vehicles.
The fire brigade said it had been prepared for the situation in light of previous attacks, but that it was surprised by "the number and intensity of attacks on our emergency services."
"There is no justification for this behaviour and I can only condemn it in the strongest possible terms," regional fire chief Karsten Homrighausen said.
Reports of aggression nationwide
Police departments across the country, such as Düsseldorf, also reported "heavily drunk people, rioters, disputes and bodily harm."
In the eastern city of Leipzig, police said a 17-year-old was fatally injured while handling unauthorised fireworks.
Police in the northern Bavarian region of Central Franconia said they had experienced "the most intense New Year's Eve in recent years."
Fire officials in Germany's second largest city Hamburg said the night had been "terrifying," with emergency services "aggressively approached" and "literally shot at" with fireworks.
Officials had lifted a coronavirus-pandemic ban on rockets and firecrackers, allowing them to be fired on New Year's Eve for the first time in two years.
Mayor Franziska Giffey has called a youth summit, condemning the violence as "absolutely unacceptable". Several figures highlighted the migrant background of many of the youths. But the Berlin mayor insisted the issue was more to do with the social environment in which young Berliners had grown up: "We're not talking about immigration labels but about what went wrong in the social flashpoints."
It was not just Berlin that witnessed violence. There were reports of rockets, firecrackers and even a starting pistol being fired at emergency vehicles in cities including Hamburg, Bonn, Dortmund and Essen.
Police said of the 145 arrests made during the Berlin riots that the majority were men, 45 were German while 27 were of Afghan nationality and 21 were Syrians.
The revelations fed into a broader debate, and leading conservative figure Jens Spahn spoke of "unregulated migration, failed integration".
Some commentators questioned whether breaking down the suspects' nationalities was helpful. Germany's press code makes clear that ethnic or religious background should only be reported where there is legitimate public interest.
Government integration commissioner Reem Alabali-Radovan called for perpetrators to be judged on their actions and "not according to their presumed origins, as some are now doing".
Germany's GdP police union called for higher penalties for the perpetrators of attacks on emergency staff.
"The attacks on rescue workers and police officers are brutalisation that we cannot accept," GdP representative Andreas Rosskopf told the Rheinische Post newspaper.
Source: Deutche Welle, BBC