A Year After the Berlin Market Attack, Germany Admits Mistakes

Standing earlier than the memorial steps that bear the names of the victims, Ms. Merkel, wrapped in a black wool coat, appeared visibly shaken.

“Today is a day of mourning,” Ms. Merkel stated to reporters after the ceremony, “but also a day of concerted determination to improve.”

She described her assembly on Monday as “very open and blunt,” including that it “revealed the weaknesses that our government showed in such a situation.”

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The German police secured the space round the Berlin Christmas market earlier than the ceremony.

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Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

In the households’ letter, first revealed in the main German weekly Der Spiegel, the kinfolk complained about the coldhearted letters they obtained from authorities employees in response to their complaints about challenges they confronted dealing with lives altered by the assault.

“Ms. Chancellor, the attack on the Breitscheid Square is a tragic result of the lack of political action of your government,” they wrote.

The survivors and victims’ kinfolk complained about the authorities’ letting Mr. Amri slip via their fingers, the chaotic response instantly following the assault and what they noticed as a scarcity of monetary compensation for his or her losses.

But above all, their anger was directed at the chancellor.

The day after the assault, she and different authorities representatives attended a memorial service to honor the victims. But at the moment, a lot of their households stated they had been nonetheless ready for affirmation that their family members had been killed. Several weeks later, in January, Joachim Gauck, then the German president, invited the households to the presidential palace for a private assembly.

From Ms. Merkel, nonetheless, they heard nothing, the letter stated: “Regarding how we as survivors were treated, we have to say, Ms. Chancellor, that nearly one year after the attack, you have not offered your condolences, either personally or in writing.”

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Chancellor Angela Merkel, middle, Berlin’s mayor, Michael Müller, proper, and the president of the German Parliament, Wolfgang Schäuble, attended the ceremony at the Christmas market.

Credit
Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

In March, the authorities appointed a former governor, Kurt Beck, to characterize the pursuits of the households and assist them to take care of paperwork wanted to use for compensation. He was additionally requested to attract up a report for the authorities with suggestions for enhancements, a lot of which addressed the survivors’ complaints.

“I don’t think there was any ill intent, but my impression is that none of us, not society and not the government, were spiritually prepared for the reality that such an attack could take place in Germany,” Mr. Beck stated of the authorities’s dealing with of the scenario, in an interview with ZDF tv.

The assault on the well-liked Christmas market introduced dwelling to Germans the actuality that as a part of Europe they, too, are a goal for mass terrorist assaults. Until that point, Belgium and France had been the main European targets. The assault additionally bolstered critics of Ms. Merkel’s open-door immigration coverage of 2015 who stated it added to the nation’s vulnerabilities.

But with assaults occurring elsewhere in Europe, critics of Germany’s response may examine how different nations had managed the aftermath. Many regarded to France, for instance, the place multiple million folks heeded the name to take to the streets in an indication of solidarity after an assault in January 2015 left 17 folks lifeless.

Another level of comparability was compensation for survivors. While the involvement of a automobile in the Berlin assault allowed survivors to faucet right into a fund that compensates victims of site visitors accidents, Mr. Beck stated the quantities provided had been nonetheless too low.

He really useful rising the compensation in methods just like the system utilized in France, the place a fund for victims of terrorism was created in 1986 after a wave of terrorist assaults in the 1980s. It is funded largely by taxes on property insurance coverage contracts.

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