Two years of breitscheidplatz terror: police show even more presence

Immediately before the 2nd anniversary of the Breitscheidplatz attack, security standards are drastically increased – also because of Strasbourg.

Concrete bollards have become as much a part of the Christmas market as the fir trees Photo: dpa

A few days before Wednesday marks the second anniversary of the attack on Breitscheidplatz, security measures for Berlin’s Christmas markets have been tightened again. "The visible presence of the police has been increased once again, also because after the attack in Strasbourg the danger of copycat attacks should not be underestimated," said the spokesman for Interior Senator Andreas Geisel (SPD), Martin Pallgen.

The organizers of the Christmas markets and other major events will hear it with one laughing and one crying eye. On the one hand, more police presence increases the sense of security. On the other hand, the attack by the assassin Anis Amri, who killed twelve people on December 19, 2016, has also led to a drastic increase in the requirements for security measures in public spaces.

"With many venues, it is not easy to play them in a way that can be approved," the managing director of the state-owned Kulturprojekte GmbH, Moritz van Dulmen, told the taz in late October.

Barricades too costly

Van Dulmen wanted to erect barricades again at the Stadtschloss and in Kreuzberg to mark the 100th anniversary of the November Revolution. But the idea was abandoned. Because a permit for such an encroachment on public space would have involved too much effort, a smaller solution was resorted to. Now, a historic furniture van symbolizes the revolutionary event. Pushed together, these carts also formed barricades. Imagination replaces reenactment.

Above all, the responsible district offices have become cautious as licensing authorities. "This is really no longer comparable to the time two or three years ago," van Dulmen sums up. "Even something like the light border, where hundreds of thousands move uncontrolled, is difficult to justify in current times."

This is also confirmed by the Green Party’s spokesman on domestic policy, Benedikt Lux. "Organizers and representatives of the authorities can be held personally liable if they have acted with gross negligence." To rule this out, he says, the authorities’ security requirements have "massively increased."

Many are overwhelmed

Benedikt Lux, Green Party

"Security precautions overwhelm many event organizers"

The possibility of mass panics like the one at the Love Parade in Duisburg or attacks like the one at Breitscheidplatz must be taken into account, he said. "This overwhelms many organizers," Lux says. "Permits are often only issued shortly before an event begins. But that means there is hardly any planning certainty."

Often, the catalogs of criteria for major events are very abstract, Lux says. "We would like to make them more concrete." The Senate is currently working on a solution to standardize the approval practice and make it more manageable. A result is expected in 2019, he says.

It cannot be ruled out, however, that attacks like the one in Strasbourg will further restrict events in public spaces. Even if the governing mayor Michael Muller (SPD) said after the recent shooting at the Strasbourg Christmas market: "Berlin has consciously decided to stick to its liberal, tolerant and cosmopolitan way of life despite this inhuman act of violence. We wish Strasbourg the same strength."

This text is part of the current weekend focus of the taz Berlin on the topic Two Years Breitscheidplatz. Also included: A long visit to the Amri investigation committee of the Berlin House of Representatives.