Commentary on the Berlin Attack Our Strength

The attack in Berlin has shown us that Germany is also vulnerable. This makes it that much more important that we all keep our cool.

The site of the suspected terrorist attack in Berlin
REUTERS

The site of the suspected terrorist attack in Berlin

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Twelve people are dead, many more are injured, and this shortly before Christmas. All they wanted to do was enjoy a nice evening on the town, to take a break from the hustle and bustle of daily life -- have a glass of mulled wine and chat with friends or relatives. It's always difficult to put words to the suffering that people can inflict on other, completely innocent people. In Aleppo, in Nice, in Orlando or, now, here in Berlin.

But the attacks keep coming -- from hateful lone wolves but also from groups who allege to be fighting for a higher cause and those who kill out of revenge, pure pleasure or out of religious insanity. The attack on a peaceful Christmas market in Berlin provides a shocking demonstration of just how vulnerable Germany has become. Despite this, because of it, we must keep our cool. We must remain calm and stay reasonable, even if that is difficult to do.

Photo Gallery

10  Photos
Photo Gallery: 'A Bad Evening for Berlin'

Acting reasonably means ensuring that hatred, distrust between Germans, foreigners, Muslims, the West or the South or the East doesn't continue to grow. Hysteria, xenophobia or lashing out blindly neither helps anyone nor solves any problems.

Acting reasonably means to not play anything down or deny it. It's possible the perpetrator in Berlin came to Germany as a refugee. That would be a problem. That's why we need to address and minimize the security gaps created by the entry into Germany of huge numbers of migrants. Failures must be detected and analyzed. That's the job of the federal government, parliament and the security authorities.

Photo Gallery

14  Photos
Photo Gallery: The Day After the Catastrophe

Acting reasonably means recognizing our own strengths: Germany may be a target for terrorists, but it is also a strong democracy, with functioning government institutions. It has long been feared that an attack like this could happen. It's not possible to protect 100 percent against terrorism. But the fact is that the security authorities have also foiled numerous other attacks. Security officials are pursuing terrorists and their supporters both in Germany and abroad with the full force of the law. This is covered by the anti-terrorism measures in Paragraph 129 of Germany's penal code, along with other legislation. The country has many tools at its disposal to ensure that this happens, including Germany's anti-extremism agency, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, excellent government criminal investigators and prosecutors as well as excellent police special forces.

Acting reasonably means standing in the way of hate preachers. Those who seek to exploit the current situation -- cynical people like Germany's right-wing populist Alternative for Germany party -- in order to stir up hatred between people are also helping to fuel the terrorists. They want to drive us apart, unsettle us and evoke a clash of cultures. The intention of their hatred is to constantly foment new hatred.

But that's the path that can only end in calamity. It's one we must ensure we do not take.

SPIEGEL ONLINE

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uscrusader 12/20/2016
1. Pathetic
You hide your head in the sand and deny the apocalypse going on in your own country. Your appeasement of this hatred is the problem, not the solution. Shameful commentary
Inglenda2 12/20/2016
2. Political failure is not strength
We could say, we told you so! The sadness, this insane attack has brought to many families, cannot easily be put into words. It is however of no surprise to those, who have taken the trouble to study what is really behind ethnic, religious, or political forms of hate. It should have been, but even now is obviously not, clear to those who are responsible for safety within Europe, that when European nations interfere in other countries, there is almost certain to be a backlash. Not only nationalists are an enormous danger to civilisation, but also religions which permit, or even encourage violence against non-believers. It is amazing to notice, that despite what has happened in Berlin, some members of parliament are still not ready to face up to the truth and return to forms of national security which function. These start with controls on national borders!
brett_tatman 12/20/2016
3. Deustchland
Ich bin ein berliner! From Colorado, USA!
Elisa Betta 12/20/2016
4.
I do agree with what was said. Must note however, that while the author points the finger at the AfD (rightly so) he is strangely silent about the fact that in Germany religious houses are still (mis) used and individuals are tolerated that preach hate against the people and their culture that have offered foreigners, immigrants, refugees a place in their society. Omission, Mr. Nelles, is indeed a form of denial.
bicester55 12/20/2016
5. Excellent police work
Good to know that German police are happy with petty criminals, with serious assault records, roaming the Christmas markets? I guess many of the refugees at Tempelhof are not too pleased either to have them among their midst. (Released man had most likely spent year and a half in a Greek prison for a life threatening assault and earned the reputation as a petty criminal in the year he has been in Berlin.)
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