Nation's history of war results in different response

Germans On Christmas Market Attack: ‘We’re Not At War’

Germany, although a known soon-to-be target to ISIS and Islamic State terrorists, had managed to avoid tragedy at the hands of such extremists and simply mourned with its neighbors- France and Belgium following a painful year of attacks to both nations. This all changed on Monday.

An ISIS supporter plowed over a crowd of people at Berlin’s Christmas market, killing 12 people and injuring others. Twenty-four-year-old Anri, a suspect in the attack, was later shot dead by police in Italy on Friday morning.

The attack has since been claimed by the Islamic State group, and residents of Germany, although shaken up, are not reacting in the same manner as France and Belgium.There have been no calls for a state of emergency, and security has not been heightened in the wake of the attack.

Although the suspect has now been shot and killed, there has been criticism as to how the capture of the attacker was handled seeing as Amri was able to travel freely all the way to Italy through France without being suspected until Italian authorities approached him. The said police officers didn’t even realize that it was the Christmas market attacker they were questioning until he went for his gun.

As the publication suggests, the calmness with which the attack is being handled in Germany, despite being considered too calm to other nations and critics, has been linked to the past of Germany which once was under heavy surveillance in the times of Hitler and afterwards. Any heightened security makes citizens wary which is the prime reason, as experts state, that German authorities are not acting in a similar manner as France and Belgium had.

Chancellor Angela Merkel stated on Thursday that she was “very proud of how calmly most people reacted to the situation.”

As the AFP notes, Klaus Bouillon, the interior minister of Saarland state, learned that the aftermath in Germany would be handled much differently after he remarked that Germany was “in a state of war” following the attack, which sparked outrage and criticism, causing him to retract this statement.

“Terrorists are evil criminals, but the country is not at war,” the Sueddeutsche Zeitung’s co-editor in chief Kurt Kister hit back in an editorial.

An expert on international terrorism at Berlin’s Free University Christian Tuschhoff says that Germans are extremely sensitive to the term “war.”

“Here, we associate war with a form of organised violence between states, and in several historic cases Germany was the aggressor. That’s why we are very reluctant to use war rhetoric.”

Although German authorities came under harsh criticism after seemingly allowing the Berlin attacker to slip through security, there has been no talk of heightening security measures in the nation.

Prior to the event, when the truck plowed into a crowd, the government had already made steps to heighten and strengthen security as a response to earlier smaller attacks by IS. Merkel’s cabinet on Wednesday also approved a wider use of CCTV and more bodycams for their federal police officials.

There are a noticeable number of soldiers patrolling the streets and reassuring nervous citizens, much like France and Belgium officers had after recent attacks.

As it stands, Germans seem satisfied with their current security and respect for privacy.

“If we were to secure everything, control all the entrances to public spaces, that would no longer correspond with our culture of openness,” said Berlin mayor Michael Mueller.

Although following 9/11 the United States proclaimed they were “at war,” as did France and Belgium following the more recent attacks, Germany has remained steadfast in their strategy to keep the nation calm while increasing security in a non alarming manner at borders, as well as by linking various police units and defense teams to work together.

[Feature Image by Sean Gallup/Getty Images]

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