OTD in Berlin History | 19 Dec 2016: Christmas Market Attack

16 December 2016: On this day in Berlin history, 12 people were killed and up to 100 injured in a devastating attack on the Christmas Market near Berlin’s Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church.

Tributes paid to the victims of the Christmas Market attack
Tributes paid to the victims

After a hijacked truck was deliberately driven into the crowd, an intense hunt ensued for the prime suspect, a 23-year old Tunisian named Anis Amri. The Islamic State in Iraq and Levant had issued Amri with instructions, and released a video of him pledging allegiance to ISIL’s then leader, Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The trail led through the Netherlands and France, before police in Milan confronted a “very suspicious man” walking through the streets. When asked to provide identification documents, Amri drew his firearm and began shooting. One policeman was injured in the firefight, and Amri was shot dead.

Some voices on the right-wing of German politics blamed Angela Merkel’s asylum policy, which had seen large numbers of refugees fleeing conflict in Syria settle in Germany, for the apparent increase in the threat of Islamist terror attacks.

However, refugees and minorities in Germany remain far more likely to be the victims of, rather than perpetrators of terrorism. Between 2012 and 2016, extreme right-wing terrorist attacks against refugee homes in Germany increased more than 6,000% from 24 in 2012 to over 1,500 in 2015 and 2016.*

Since 2016, with heightened security and fortifications at Christmas markets in place, there have been no similar incidents in Germany.

*Source: Recent Trends in German Right-Wing Violence and Terrorism: What are the Contextual Factors behind ‘Hive Terrorism’? Perspectives on Terrorism, Vol. 12, No. 6 (December 2018), p. 79.

Sam WiszniewskiThis edition of On This Day in Berlin History was written by BBS Member Sam Wiszniewski.
It’s one of four events he has chosen to remember this December. See what else made the cut on our blog.