For most, the holidays are a time of happiness and celebration among family and friends. Yet during this festive time the monstrosity of a terrorist attack became a reality in Berlin. More than the holiday spirit was at stake when a truck was driven through a Christmas market near Berlin’s Memorial Church on December 19th, 2016. Christmas markets are a traditional part of the holidays in Germany, and are normally a very cheerful experience. The location of the attack was not a coincidence, as this was intended as a direct attack on Christianity. The attack left 12 people dead and at least 48 injured. Efforts to catch the attacker led to a setback when a suspect was found innocent after being arrested. Valuable time passed before they realized the mistake and began the search again for the real attacker. Additionally, the driver of the truck was identified as “a soldier” of the Islamic state, described through the Amaq news agency, with ISIS claiming responsibility.
They now suspect a Tunisian man named Anis Amri. He stole the truck from Łukasz Urban, a man from Banie, Poland. Amri shot Urban in the head and proceeded to drive the truck into the market hours later. Urban tried to divert the truck just before being shot, but failed. Urban died from the wound, but was still celebrated as a hero for his efforts to stop Amri from careening into the market. A funeral was held on December 30th for Urban in Poland, and truck drivers throughout the country honked their horns in honor of him.
For most people, the Berlin attacks became just another headline in the news that eventually faded. A Berlin citizen named Anna Buchmann described how commonplace attacks were in her life by mentioning that many of her friends in Egypt had been affected by an attack “only one week earlier…25 people were killed and 49 injured.” Both attacks bring light to the sad reality of our world, which is changing to become a place in which terrorist attacks are not anomalies. In the aftermath of the attacks, many were worried, understandably, about the state of family and friends living in Berlin. Facebook developed a handy function in which people can see if their friends and family are in Berlin, and can ask them if they’re harmed. People in Berlin can mark themselves “safe”. Buchmann mentioned how many people contacted her making sure she was okay recently after the attack, “even people I haven’t talked to for some time contacted me. I think it affected everyone, not just the people living in Berlin.”
In the days following the attacks, Berlin residents improvised by creating memorials around the Church and leaving flowers and candles. A sign was hung with the phrase ‘Même pas peur’, French for ‘not even afraid’ which showed the connections and resemblance the event bears to the attacks in Nice this past summer. During this time of fear and uncertainty, Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany, presents a steadfast front, saying, “We cannot allow ourselves to be unsettled by this. We must simply know that this exists, and learn to live with it.”
By Rosa Sofia Kaminski and Emily Nadler