Showing posts with label Berlin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Berlin. Show all posts

December 26, 2018

Gay Life in Berlin Seems to Harken to Darker Times

Items in Berlin's Institute for Sexual Sciences are examined after the Nazi Party seized power in Germany in 1933.

After the Nazi Party seized power in 1933, Berlin's Institute for Sexual Science was looted, its library burned and staff persecuted.BPK-BILDAGENTUR

BERLIN—The fetish cruising bar Bull is a place of pilgrimage in Berlin for more than one reason. To patrons, it is a 24-hour safe space that caters to every palate. To the British historian Brendan Nash, it is a symbol of “Babylon Berlin,” a golden decade of LGBT freedom in the city in the 1920s, when the bisexual Hollywood star Marlene Dietrich mixed with prostitutes and transgender dance-hall girls. 

“There’s been a gay bar of some kind at this address for more than 100 years,” Nash, an energetic 54-year-old, explained to a walking tour he was leading as he gestured enthusiastically at a neon sign outside, which featured cattle with large nose rings. Chuckling, he told the group that an elderly woman nonchalantly wanders through Bull with a sandwich cart at 5 a.m. in case anyone is hungry. “There is nothing that she has not seen,” he said.

Germany has long been lauded for its liberal attitude toward sex. It recently passed laws allowing same-sex couples to marry and adopt, and just became the first European country to legalize a third gender. But LGBT-rights groups have warned of a parallel rise of violent homophobia in mainstream politics.

Since the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) Party stormed into the Bundestag last year, its politicians have called for homosexuals to be imprisoned, vowed to repeal gay marriage, and denounced those suffering from HIV. Such attacks not only symbolize yet another seismic, global shift to the right. They are also reminders of Germany’s fascist past and, rights groups worry, signs of dangerous future clamp-downs on vulnerable minorities. 

 An image of Adolf Hitler hangs inside a home where members affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan and the National Socialist Movement were gathering for a joint rally in Hunt County, Texas, in 2014. 
It's Not That Hard To Avoid Normalizing Nazis 

Berlin is a powerfully queer place—gay culture, politics, activism, clubs, and sex reverberate through the city. Crowds here dance under confetti rain at annual Christopher Street Day, or gay pride, parades. A fierce campaign is under way to protect intersex children from surgery, and antiracism protesters regularly drown out far-right rallies. But “Germany is not the shiny, progressive country it wishes to be portrayed as,” says Katrin Hugendubel, the advocacy director of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association in Europe (ILGA-Europe), which represents more than 1,000 LGBT organizations.

In 1918, when Bull’s predecessor first opened, Weimar-era Germany was embarking on a scandalous decade. Gay communities in New York, Paris, and London faced the threat of imprisonment, financial ruin, murder, or even execution. Berlin’s reputation for wild immorality and its unusually liberal law enforcement, by contrast, helped turn the city into Europe’s undisputed gay mecca.

By the 1920s, Berlin was home to an estimated 85,000 lesbians, a thriving gay-media scene, and around 100 LGBT bars and clubs, where artists and writers mixed with cross-dressing call girls who supposedly inspired the Some Like It Hot director Billy Wilder. Magnus Hirschfeld’s revolutionary Institute for Sexual Science openly lobbied for the decriminalization of homosexuality and helped transgender men apply with government agencies to live legally under their new gender. Audiences, straight and gay, queued up at Eldorado, a Jewish-owned nightclub where trans women and drag queens performed and gave paid dances to visitors. There, patrons watched the drug-addled, bisexual Anita Berber star in naked dances named after narcotics. In 1929, the British writer Christopher Isherwood, whose pivotal years in Berlin were brought to life in the film Cabaret, wrote in his diary: “I’m looking for my homeland and I have come to find out if this is it.”

Transgender and cross-dressing dancers at Berlin's infamous Eldorado nightclub in the 1920s.

Transgender and cross-dressing dancers at Berlin's infamous Eldorado nightclub in the 1920s.

Transgender and cross-dressing dancers at Berlin's infamous Eldorado nightclub in the 1920s.
Transgender and cross-dressing dancers at Berlin's infamous Eldorado nightclub in the 1920s.

Transgender and cross-dressing dancers at Berlin's infamous Eldorado nightclub in the 1920s. (Herbert Hoffman / bpk-Bildagentur)
Isherwood is something of a passion for Brendan Nash. With a shaved head, a hooded jacket, and an endless supply of racy anecdotes, Nash is not your average armchair academic. For the past eight years, he has transported tourists and earnest gender-theory students back in time to search for the ghosts of their pioneering heroes, as part of his popular LGBT walking tour around West Berlin’s “gayborhood” of Schöneberg.

But lately, the tour has taken on a different meaning. Instead of merely teaching history, he’s drawing parallels with the present.

“1932 was the 2016 of its age,” Nash explained to a rapt group, muffled in thick coats in the bright, cold sunshine. Passing around a 90-year-old one million Deutsche Mark note—a legacy of the period’s hyperinflation, which  drove many people to embrace populist politicians—that he had found at a flea market, he added: “Desperate people in poverty were being promised jobs, that they could ‘take back control’ and ‘make Germany great again.’”

The electorate voted, and the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, which would become the Nazi Party, won a shocking 6.3 million votes, increasing its presence in the Bundestag from 12 seats to 107.

Ten months later, on May 6, 1933, the Institute for Sexual Science was looted and same-sex dancing was banned. From 1933 to 1945, an estimated 100,000 LGBT individuals were arrested. An extraordinary decade of sexual freedom was over.

Nash talked ardently of the comparisons between the rise of fascism in the 1920s and 1930s and modern German rhetoric. “When I read political speeches from 1932, I think to myself, I heard someone say that on the six o’clock news last night,” he said. 

The current political mood in Germany is unstable, with old fractures reopening between the conservative East and affluent West. In September 2017, the AfD made history when it became the first overtly far-right party to sit in the Bundestag in 60 years. Founded in 2013 as a fringe, anti-migrant group with alleged neo-Nazi links, it is now the third-largest party, with 92 seats in the Bundestag and a representative in every state.

Since the AfD’s arrival, the LGBT community has experienced “unbearable incitement of hatred,” says Micha Schulze, the managing editor of the LGBT news site He cites AfD politicians calling same-sex marriage a “national death” and posting an obituary on their website mourning “the German family.” Reported hate crimes against LGBT individuals in Germany rose by roughly 27 percent in 2017, according to the German Interior Ministry—a figure that Schulze and other LGBT groups claim is “the tip of the iceberg.”

In October, the AfD co-leader Alexander Gauland, who has vowed to repeal same-sex marriage, was accused of paraphrasing a 1933 speech by Adolf Hitler. The same month, the party launched websites to recruit child informants to spy on teachers expressing political opinions, including those in favor of LGBT rights, in the classroom. The party pushed the youths to then “denounce” the teachers anonymously online. Christian Piwarz, the culture minister in the state of Saxony, called the move a “despicable mindset of snoopery...from the times of the Nazi dictatorship or the Stasi.”

On December 7, the sexual-health charity AIDS-Hilfe Sachsen-Anhalt Nord e.V. criticized the AfD representative Hans-Thomas Tillschneider for a Facebook post that echoed Nazi-era propaganda against homosexuals by claiming that HIV sufferers were “martyrs of a disinhibited, hedonistic, hypersexualized society.” 

Given the AfD’s homophobic reputation, it is perhaps surprising that 39-year-old Alice Weidel, its other co-leader, is a lesbian who lives with her female partner and children. But instead of advocating for LGBT rights, the former investment banker wants to protect gay Germans from “dangerous” Muslims whom she has called “headscarf girls, welfare-claiming knife-wielding men and other do-nothings.” The party even has a vocal LGBT group called “Alternative Homosexuals” that opposes migrants.

When questioned about her comments, Weidel has blamed the media for spreading “propaganda” and insisted to Der Tagesspiegel, a German newspaper: “I’m being credited with being involved in a supposedly homophobic party, but that's not the reality.”

Anti-LGBT sentiment appears to be spreading beyond far-right parties, too. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s replacement as leader of the ruling Christian Democratic Union is Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the party’s former general secretary. She has previously claimed that same-sex marriage could lead to the legalization of incest.

“You could argue that we live in a climate of hate speech,” says Markus Ulrich, the spokesperson for the Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany, an influential lobbying group. While Ulrich believes that the majority of the mainstream left and center-right parties have “made their peace” with recent pro-LGBT legislation and would fight attempts to repeal it, the growing influence of far-right politicians is worrisome. “This is definitely a step towards concrete, violent action against the LGBT community,” he adds.

Brendan Nash leads a walking tour in Berlin.
Historian Brendan Nash leads a historical walking tour through Berlin. (Alice Hutton)
For now, Berlin’s sexual subcultures continue to walk in the footsteps of their pioneering forebears from the 1920s. It remains, still, a place for The Other.

At around 2:50 a.m., in the dark and pungent night club SO36 in the hipster neighborhood of Kreuzberg, Pansy, the blonde-wigged, gold-leotarded, hairy-legged host of the Miss Kotti drag-queen beauty pageant, leaned into the microphone.

“It gets so bad, sometimes it’s impossible to get out of bed. Being suicidal when you are queer is no fucking joke, and it happens far too often in this city,” she told the beer-soaked crowd. “But the one thing that keeps me going is drag. Coming to rooms like this and seeing everything right with the world.

“The only way that we get over it,” she said, to drunken shrieks of approval, “is when we come together as human beings and celebrate each other. You know what I mean?


ALICE HUTTON is a journalist with Der Tagesspiegel as part of The George Weidenfeld Bursary.

June 20, 2017

In Berlin a Women’s Rights Activist Opens the City’s First LGBTQ Mosque

In the largely immigrant neighborhood of Moabit in Berlin, a prominent women’s rights activist opened the city’s first-ever LGBT, feminist mosque last Friday.
The Ibn-Rushd-Goethe Mosque meets in the third floor of a Lutheran church, which it has rented with money donated by Turks, Kurds and Arabs, the Associated Press reports.
Its first call to prayer was led by an American female imam. At the new mosque, men and women worship in the same room, and people of all genders and sexual orientations are welcome, the newswire reported.

German-Turkish lawyer, author and activist Seyran Ates (R) readies the prayer area prior to an inaugural friday payer at the Ibn Rushd-Goethe-mosque in Berlin on June 16, 2017. (AFP/Getty Images)

“This project was long overdue,” founder Seyran Ates told the Associated Press. “There’s so much Islamist terror and so much evilness happening in the name of my religion … it’s important that we, the modern and liberal Muslims, also show our faces in public.” Ates, a 54-year-old German of Turkish decent, is also a lawyer, and she is studying to become an imam herself. She has been an outspoken activist on domestic violence, honor killings and forced marriages.
That hasn’t always been a safe job; in 1984, when Ates was 21 and in law school, she worked at a counseling center for Turkish women. There, a furious husband shot her, nearly killing her.

German-Turkish lawyer, author and activist Seyran Ates (C- wearing white) is surrounded by media as she plans an inaugural friday payer at the Ibn Rushd-Goethe-mosque in Berlin on June 16, 2017. (AFP/Getty Images)

The near-death experience seems to have strengthened both her feminism and her conviction that Islam needed internal reform; in fact, in 2009, she wrote a book called Islam Needs a Sexual Revolution. 
The Ibn-Rushd-Goethe Mosque is aware that its progressive stance may attract more than just controversy, and it is coordinating on security with both the police and the state office of criminal investigation, Deutsche Welle reported. So far, Ates said, they have received no threats.

Muslims arrive for Friday prayers during the opening of the Ibn-Rushd-Goethe Mosque on June 16, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. (Getty Images)

Headscarves aren’t mandatory at this new mosque—and in fact, the burqa is banned “for safety reasons and because it is our conviction that the full-face veil has nothing to do with religion, but is a political statement,” Ates said told Der Spiegel.
This is the first time we post a story from Heat Street

December 22, 2016

Suspect Anis Amri Emerged from Jail a Mentally Different Young Man

 Anis Amri selfie posted on social media

In his impoverished Tunisian hometown, Anis Amri drank alcohol and never prayed, his brothers say. Then after joining the wave of migrants crossing the Mediterranean, he ended up in an Italian jail, only to emerge an utterly changed man.

Now he is prime suspect in this week's attack on a Berlin Christmas market and two of his brothers, Walid and Abdelkader, fear the failed asylum seeker may have been radicalized by radical Islamists while he spent almost four years behind bars.

"He doesn't represent us or our family," Abdelkader told Sky News Arabia. "He went into prison with one mentality and when he came out he had a totally different mentality."

German police have yet to establish who drove a truck into the market stalls on Monday, killing 12 people, though the interior minister said there was a "high probability" it was Amri. Abdelkader however said he was sure his brother - who turned 24 on Thursday - was innocent of the crime.

Whether or when Amri was radicalized has also yet to be proved. But in Oueslatia, a rural town that lives mostly off agriculture, the brothers said something had profoundly changed Amri after he made the dangerous sea crossing to Italy five years ago as a teenager.

"When he left Tunisia he was a normal person. He drank alcohol and didn't even pray," Walid told the TV channel. "He had no religious beliefs. My dad, my brother and I all used to pray and he didn't."

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said on Thursday that investigators had found the fingerprints of Amri, who is being hunted across Europe, on the truck's door.

"If he did this, it is a dishonor to us. But I am sure that he did not do it. He went to Europe because of social reasons, to work and to help our family," Abdelkader told reporters.

A weeping Walid said their last contact had been 10 days ago. "We were in touch with him through Facebook and by telephone and he has no relation to terrorism," he said.


A senior Italian police source told Reuters that Amri arrived on the island of Lampedusa, probably after being rescued at sea, in February 2011. Amri's crossing, made shortly after the overthrow of Tunisia's autocratic president in the first of the "Arab Spring" revolts, followed a route that tens of thousands of other boat migrants have since taken.

Amri was at a shelter on Lampedusa when migrants started a fire, destroying parts of it to protest against being held there. He told authorities he was a minor, though documents now indicate he was not, and he was transferred to the Sicilian city of Catania, where he was enrolled in school. 

In October 2011 he was arrested after attempts to set fire to a building, the source said, and later convicted of vandalism, threats and theft.

Amri served his term in at least two different prisons in Sicily, first in Catania and then in Palermo, before being sent in May 2015 to a detention center to await deportation.

Asked whether Amri had been radicalized in prison, the police source said he did not know about this period, while the director of the penitentiary system did not respond to Reuters queries.

Palermo's court opened an investigation on Thursday into his time in prison in Sicily to collect information on his time behind bars, according to a senior magistrate.

Walid pointed a finger of blame for Amri's change on fellow inmates. "Maybe he got into this when he was in prison where he met Algerians, Egyptians and Syrians," he said.

Italy tried to deport Amri to Tunisia, but authorities there refused to take him back, saying they could not be sure he was Tunisian, and so he was released after 60 days and merely asked to leave the country.


Tunisian police were stationed outside the family home in a poor district of Oueslatia on Thursday, where Amri's father worked with a donkey cart. Counter-terrorism investigators had been talking to the father and brothers.

Oueslatia, near the historic religious city of Kairouan, is typical of small towns in central and southern Tunisia that offer little opportunity for young men and became fertile ground for jihadist recruiters.

    Residents say in 2014 several families in Oueslatia had sons leave to fight for Islamist militant groups and die in Syria, Iraq and neighboring Libya.

According to Walid, Amri had indeed left Italy in 2015 and headed to Germany, joining a tide of migrants, via Switzerland.

Amri applied for asylum in the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia but this was rejected in June this year. Again he could not be deported as he did not have identification papers, so Tunisia would not take him.


Egypt, pressured by Israel, delays U.N. vote on settlements: diplomats
Tunisian's fingerprints found in truck that razed Berlin Christmas market
While in Germany, he came to the attention of security officials. Berlin authorities put him under surveillance this year over suspicions that he had been planning a robbery to fund the purchase of automatic weapons, and was seeking accomplices for a possible attack.

Ralf Jaeger, interior minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, said on Wednesday that German security agencies had shared information on him with the Joint Counter-Terrorism Centre in November, weeks before the attack.

Mass-circulation newspaper Bild quoted an unnamed counter-terrorism official as saying: "It became clear in the spring that he was looking for accomplices for an attack and was interested in weapons."

Amri, however, was not arrested. Security officials stopped their surveillance in September after their suspicions that he had been planning an attack did not firm up.


During his time in Germany he moved between North Rhine-Westphalia and Berlin. In July this year, police opened an investigation against him in connection with a knife brawl in the capital, Bild said.

German media reported that in North Rhine-Westphalia, Amri had contact with an Islamist network led by a man known as Abu Walaa ("Father of Loyalty"), who was arrested with four other men in November. They faced charges of setting up a "jihadist network" that tried to recruit Muslims to go to Syria and fight alongside Islamic State militants.

Abu Walaa, identified in German court papers as 32-year-old Iraqi Ahmad Abdulaziz Abdullah A., is awaiting trial.

Bild also reported that Amri had expressed willingness to carry out a suicide attack in online chats in jihadist forums.

Tunisian authorities estimate nearly 4,000 citizens have left to fight overseas with jihadist groups, ranging from middle-class students, army dropouts and a top-flight professional footballer to young men from poor, rural areas.

(Additional reporting by Michael Nienaber in Berlin and Patrick Markey in Algiers; Writing by David Stamp; Editing by Pravin Char)

December 21, 2016

Berlin Terror Suspect Rejected for Asylum and Under Investigation

German officials are searching for a Tunisian man whose ID was found under the driver's seat of the truck used in Monday's attack. The suspect was said to already have been under investigation for a terror plot. German authorities said on Wednesday that they are searching for a Tunisian man in connection with Monday's terror attack in Berlin.
The man has already being investigated in connection with an act of terrorism. The authorities noted his contacts with German Salafists, who follow an extremely conservative brand of Islam, according to the interior minister of German state North-Rhine Westphalia (NRW) Ralph Jäger.
They also launched a probe, based on suspicion that the 24-year-old Anis Amri was preparing "a serious crime against the state." 
"Security agencies shared their findings and information about this person with the Joint Counter-Terrorism center, most recently in November 2016," he told reporters on Wednesday.
Earlier this year, the authorities received a tip from federal security agencies that that the suspect might be planning a break-in. Officials suspected Amri could use the loot to buy automatic weapons.
According to prosecutors in Berlin, the authorities placed the Tunisian under surveillance in March.
While the surveillance data showed that the man was involved in a drug dealing and a bar brawl, it turned up no evidence to confirm the original suspicion. The monitoring was canceled in September this year.
Tunisian radio station Radio Mosaique reported that Amri server four years in Italian jail for burning down a school. The outlet cited Amri's father and Tunisian security officials as sources.
No papers - no deportation
Interior Minister Jäger added that the suspect was living in NRW before traveling to Berlin in February. He also confirmed that the man applied for the asylum and was rejected.  
However, the authorities ran into bureaucratic hurdles while trying to repatriate him.
"The man could not be deported  because he had no valid ID papers," Jäger told the media.
He added that the Tunisia has initially denied that this man was their citizen.
"The papers only arrived today," he said. "I will not comment on this any further."
Also on Wednesday, some 150 police officers raided a migrant shelter in Emmerich, near the Dutch border, where suspect reportedly lived before moving to Berlin. The raid is a part of a nationwide manhunt.

Picture of Tunisian Man Wanted in Berlin Terror Attack

The Independent Uk reports The image appeared to match those on a Facebook profile of a Tunisian man called Anis Amri.
Der Spiegel reported that the suspect was born in 1992 in the city of Tataouine, although he was also believed to go under at least two other aliases and gave authorities differing dates of birth.
In the district of Kleve, in North Rhine-Westphalia, he went under the name Ahmed A, 21, the Allgemeine Zeitung reported.
It was unclear when the suspect arrived in Germany but a confidential security database entry from February reportedly showed authorities believed he had links to Isis, which was reported to be using his hometown as a transit base for fighters last year.

German Police Looking for Tunisian Man in Terror Truck Killings

Image: Christmas market attack

The truck that crashed into a Christmas market in Berlin, Germany. Tobias Schwarz / AFP - Getty Images

German authorities scoured the country Wednesday for a Tunisian asylum seeker who is being sought in the truck rampage through a Christmas festival here that killed 12 people and injured 48.
Investigators don't know if there is more than one perpetrator at large. The new suspect emerged after police found documents in the truck belonging to a 24-year-old Tunisian national identified only as Anis A, the German magazine Spiegel reported on its website.
He was identified from a document relating to asylum that was found in the vehicle's cabin, Spiegel and Allgemeine Zeitung reported. The document said Anis A. was born in the southern Tunisian city of Tataouine in 1992, Spiegel said. It reported that he is also known by two aliases.
Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported that he applied for asylum in April and received a temporary residence permit.
Photographs purporting to be of Anis A. were circulating on social media. 
A previous suspect, a 23-year-old Pakistani asylum seeker, was released Tuesday evening because prosecutors did not find enough evidence linking him to the incident. He denied any involvement in the assault.
Germany is treating the attack as terrorism, which the Islamic State said was carried out by a "soldier." No evidence has emerged establishing a connection to the militant group, which has staged and inspired assaults across Europe and the United States.
Berlin police urged people to be especially alert Wednesday and warned that the person or persons responsible were likely armed and dangerous. As of Tuesday night, police had received more than 500 tips about the attack. Security has been tightened in Berlin and across other European capital cities.
"I am relatively confident that we will perhaps tomorrow or in the near future be able to present a new suspect," Andre Schulz, the chairman of the Federation of German Detectives, told state broadcaster ZDF on Tuesday evening.
One report, by Berlin's RBB news, said the truck's driver may be injured and that police were using DNA recovered from the vehicle to see if the attacker was hiding among the injured in the hospital. A related theory circulating in German media is that the truck's original Polish driver, who was found dead at the scene, may have tried to fight the perpetrator and wrestle him for the steering wheel as the truck was being driven into the market. Police have not commented on that idea.
Six of the dead have been identified as German nationals, according to German news agency DPA, citing police. Another five have not yet been identified. The Polish driver was found dead in the truck's passenger seat. A woman from Italy and another from Israel were missing after the attack, according to DPA.
"We will not let cosmopolitan Berlin be taken by such a cowardly attack, by fear and terror," Berlin Mayor Michael Müller said at a memorial service at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, close to the site of the attack, on Tuesday evening.
The prospect that the perpetrator is a recent migrant is fueling an anti-immigrant backlash in Germany, which has admitted nearly 1 million people fleeing conflicts in the Middle East and Africa under Chancellor Angela Merkel’s liberal migration policy.

December 20, 2016

ISIS Claims Responsibility for Terror Attack in Berlin

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the truck attack in Berlin on Monday. The attack has left at least 12 dead and dozens more injured.
NBC reports the Pakistani migrant who was arrested Tuesday as a suspect in the deadly truck attack on a crowded Christmas market in Germany has been released because of insufficient evidence. 
The man was arrested not far from the scene of Monday night's carnage in the German capital, where 12 people were killed and nearly 50 others wounded. 
But the Federal Prosecutor’s Office released him Tuesday night after investigators said they could not prove he was in the cabin of the truck during the rampage.
Local media identified the suspect as "Naved B.," a 23-year-old who entered Germany via Austria on Dec. 31, 2015. He was reportedly already known to police for minor offenses. Those reports could not immediately be confirmed by NBC News. 
De Maiziere said only a few of the victims had been identified so far, and that 18 of the 48 wounded had suffered severe injuries. 
Among the dead was a Polish man found shot to death inside the cab of the stolen truck. The weapon has not been found. 
Bloodstained clothing was also found inside the cab, but the suspect in custody was wearing clean clothes, Frank said. 
Christmas markets in Berlin were closed Tuesday as a mark of respect for the victims, but the interior ministry said other events around the country would take place with increased security measures.

December 19, 2016

In Berlin Trucker Plows thru Xmas Market Killing Around 45 People

A truck plowed through a Christmas market in Germany's capital on Monday evening, killing at least nine people and injuring about 45 others, authorities said. 
The incident happened at Breitscheidplatz, a public square in the center of Berlin. The driver's nationality wasn't known, but Berlin police said they suspected his truck, which bore Polish license plates, was stolen. 
Police initially said on German TV that the driver was apprehended after having tried to flee. They later said on Twitter only that a suspect was arrested in the vicinity of the public square and that it remained under investigation whether that person was the driver. 
 A passenger in the truck was among those killed, police spokesman Thomas Neuendorf said on German TV. It wasn't immediately clear how the passenger died or what his or her relationship was to the driver. 

Image: Truck in Berlin

A truck near the Christmas market in Berlin on Monday. Fabrizio Bensch / Reuters

It also wasn't clear whether the truck veered into the holiday crowds on purpose or by accident, but in a security message to U.S. citizens in Germany, the U.S. Embassy said, "Police are reporting this as a suspected terrorist incident." 
Emma Rushton, a witness, told NBC News that she heard the "terrifying" crash while she was with a friend at the Christmas market while on vacation in Berlin from Rugby, England. 
"People were bleeding. There was lots of blood and lots of crying," she said. 
Rushton said she that thought the truck was going about 40 mph and that "there was no way it was just a veer-off-the-road accident." 
Other witnesses said victims were crushed.  The U.S. ambassador to Germany, John B. Emerson, called reports of the incident "devastating." Emerson said the embassy in Berlin was closely monitoring updates from German authorities and was ready to assist any U.S. citizens searching for news of their loved ones.  In July, a truck driver killed 84 Bastille Day revelers in Nice, France, and injured more than 200 others before he was shot dead by police. Officials said he had been planning the attack for months. 
U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News that Monday's incident was somewhat consistent but that they are aware of no claims of responsibility and aren't ready to call it a terrorist attack. They pointed out that German authorities have conducted a series of raids in recent weeks, rolling up numerous ISIS operatives. 
 July: Risk of Truck Attack Has Long Been U.S. Security Concern

 U.S. officials have long feared truck attacks on U.S. soil. Permanent truck barriers were installed around government buildings nationwide after the 1995 truck bomb attack in Oklahoma City. Police in New York and Chicago said Monday that they had beefed up their presences at high-profile locations as a precaution. 
In November, the State Department warned U.S> citizens to exercise caution at overseas holiday festivals and outdoor markets in light of the heightened risk of terrorist attacks throughout Europe. 
The Weihnachtsmarkt, or Christmas market, at Breitscheidplatz — just off the main shopping district of West Berlin close to the historic Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church — is one of dozens of Christmas markets in the city.

February 3, 2015

Post Re-unification Berlin has become A symbol of German Open Mindedness

"Berlin is poor, but sexy. That's the whole point of Berlin. It really is poor, look at any other capital in Europe and you will see that they are different to Berlin"
Post re-unification Berlin has become a symbol of German open-mindedness, liberalism and alternative lifestyles.
In the aftermath of the collapse of the wall, curious visitors arrived in droves to visit a city that had been divided for decades and appeared mysterious and perhaps even a little forbidding. 
Many liked the free-thinking, anything-goes attitude they found there. This atmosphere was fostered by a new optimistic spirit and a plentiful supply of vacant buildings, which quickly became art workshops, theatres, clubs and generally cool places to hang out. Rent was cheap, or even non-existent, and times were good. 
But then the money started to flow in and everything changed. In this edition of Reporter, euronews’ Patrick Wauthier takes a trip around the German capital and meets residents with mixed views on changes that are transforming its character and driving up rents. 
Watch the video to find out more.
Copyright © 2015 euronews

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