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Germany kicks off reunification celebrations in Mainz

The 27th anniversary of German reunification is being celebrated in cities across the country. Chancellor Angela Merkel took part in this year's main event in Mainz under the motto: "Together we are Germany." The city of Mainz took center stage on Tuesday as the host of the main celebrations for this year's Day of German Unity. Around 500,000 guests are expected to take part in the festival to celebrate the 27th anniversary of Germany's the peaceful reunification. With security concerns in Germany still running high, a total of 4,300 police officers have been deployed in Mainz alone for Tuesday. Read more: German reunification: Are youth in love or indifferent? German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and German parliament President Norbert Lammert attended an ecumenical service in the Mainz cathedral before heading to a ceremony in teh Rheingoldhalle convention center. Merkel, who grew up in former East Germany, said the reunification anniversary was a "day of joy" for the country and that there was a responsibility to uphold freedom at home and abroad. "We know we cannot disconnect from what's going on in the world. Rather, we must take care that globalization is constructed humanely," she said in Mainz. Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) won the most votes in Germany's September 24 national election, but the vote also saw the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) enter German parliament for the first time. Steinmeier: 'Other walls have arisen' President Steinmeier said that since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, less visible "walls" now divide the country. The election exposed "large and small cracks" in German society, he said, calling on lawmakers to work together to fight any return to nationalism. "On September 24th, it became clear that other walls have arisen, less visible, without barbed wire and death-strips, but walls that stand in the way of our common sense of 'us'," Steinmeier said in a speech in Mainz. Steinmeier, a Social Democrat who served as Germany's foreign minister before taking on the largely ceremonial role of president in March, said that "behind these walls, a deep distrust in democracy and its representatives is being fomented." He also called for a national discussion on migration — one of the main issues that arose during the election — adding that this would mean creating new guidelines. "In my view, this means not simply wishing away migration but ... defining legal admission to Germany, which regulates and controls migration by our stipulations," Steinmeier noted. Celebrating a reunited Germany Under the motto "Together we are Germany," each of Germany's 16 states were on display, as well as a large replica of Berlin's Brandenburg gate, at a festival near the banks of the Rhine River. Read more: Eastern Germany's teenagers are still heading West Later in the afternoon, festival-goers will gather together to take part in a new national holiday tradition by singing a round of Ludwig van Beethoven's "Ode to Joy." Celebrations began on Monday with several concerts including performances from German pop star Tim Bendzko and eastern German rock band Karat. As part of Germany's national holiday, 1,000 mosques around the country have also opened up their doors to visitors – including a mosque in Cologne belonging to Germany's largest Islamic organization, DITIB.

The 27th anniversary of German reunification is being celebrated in cities across the country. Chancellor Angela Merkel took part in this year’s main event in Mainz under the motto: “Together we are Germany.” The city of Mainz took center stage on Tuesday as the host of the main celebrations for this year’s Day of German Unity. Around 500,000 guests are ... Read More »

Turkey asks Germany for extradition of top coup suspect

Ankara has formally requested that Berlin arrest and extradite a man suspected of playing a major role in last year's failed coup. The request follows reports suggesting the theology lecturer was spotted in Germany. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday that Turkey sent a diplomatic note to Germany, demanding the extradition of fugitive Adil Oksuz. Cavusoglu told broadcaster TRT Haber that Ankara sent the note following reports that Oksuz was seen in Germany. "If this person is there, we asked that he be located, taken into custody and returned to Turkey," the minister said. Oksuz, a theology academic, is accused of being a follower of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Ankara says was behind last year's failed coup attempt. Turkish media reported that Oksuz has been seen in the German cities of Frankfurt and Ulm and was granted a temporary residence permit in the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg. Turkey's most wanted The Turkish government says that Oksuz was a "civilian imam" for air force personnel who bombed parliament last July as part of efforts to topple the government. Oksuz was arrested at Akinci air base once the coup bid collapsed, but was released two days later by an alleged Gulenist judge. He has been on the run ever since and is one of Turkey's most wanted fugitives. Footage released after the failed coup showed Oksuz and his alleged assistant, businessman Kemal Batmaz, arriving at the main airport in Istanbul two days before the attempted putsch. Read more: Turkey's Erdogan wants uniforms for coup suspects in court Turkish authorities say the men were returning from a trip to the US where they allegedly met with Gulen, who denies involvement and has condemned the attempted putsch. He has been living in Pennsylvania in self-imposed exile since 1999. Batmaz remains in detention following his arrest immediately following the failed coup and is awaiting trial Over 50,000 people have been detained in a crackdown by Turkish authorities, with journalists and opposition figures targeted as well. Read more: Turkey seeks arrest of dozens of journalists The scale of the crackdown has soured relations between Turkey and Germany. Some of Turkey's allies have voiced concern that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan may be using the coup as a way to suppress dissent. Turkey also accuses Ankara of harboring suspects wanted for alleged ties to the coup as well as Kurdish militants.

Ankara has formally requested that Berlin arrest and extradite a man suspected of playing a major role in last year’s failed coup. The request follows reports suggesting the theology lecturer was spotted in Germany. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday that Turkey sent a diplomatic note to Germany, demanding the extradition of fugitive Adil Oksuz. Cavusoglu told broadcaster ... Read More »

Gaps in German foreigner registry risk grave asylum, deportation mistakes

Vastly outdated data, EU citizens listed as needing to leave Germany: Just some of the mistakes that pepper the database, the commissioner for refugee management said. And the resulting consequences could be serious. Erroneous categorizations and sloppy mistakes fill the Central Register of Foreign Nationals (AZR), the former head of Germany's Office for Migration and Refugees, Frank-Jürgen Weise, said in a report seen by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. In an interview with the same paper, Weise warned that the inconsistencies could lead "to some gravely mistaken decisions" in cases dealing with asylum and deportations proceedings. The AZR is a German government database that contains the personal information of around 10 million foreign individuals residing in Germany, 5.7 million of whom come from outside the European Union (EU). Weise was tasked by the German Interior Ministry with compiling the report in order to improve the bureaucratic efficiency of asylum, deportation, and voluntary return processes. His analysis, entitled "Guidelines for the Improvement of Data Quality in the Central Register of Foreign Nationals," highlighted that the AZR data contained some significant errors. No longer alive, but on the list For instance, Weise told the Süddeutsche Zeitung that in certain cases, obsolete data from as far back as 1921 had been found - "belonging to people that are long dead." In other instances, individuals appeared on the list as foreign nationals when, in fact, they had already become German citizens. "The data quality was in part not good because the data has not been adequately maintained," Weise said. The data is administered by around 600 government officials throughout Germany that work on matters pertaining to foreign nationals. Another mistake in the AZR database was incorrectly entered addresses. Such an error could have all kinds of repercussions, Weise said, highlighting delays in bureaucratic appointments that waste the time and resources of administrators, translators, and, of course, the intended recipient of goverment correspondence. In certain cases, "the wrong person may even come into focus" through such entry mistakes, Weise said. According to Weise, EU nationals also popped up in the database - but on lists of individuals who were legally required to leave the country. EU nationals are generally allowed to live and work wherever they please within the bloc. The commissioner pointed out in his analysis that such mis-categorizations could distort the debate about who is legally required to leave Germany. Read more: The German Dream - and immigration nightmares of the bureaucratic experience Bad for the German reputation For Weise, the elementary mistakes in the AZR can cause long-term damage to Germany's reputation. The published report includes tips on how to improve the quality of data management, which had previously lacked clearly defined standards and unified processes, he said. Echoing a frequently heard debate between the role of the federal government and the regional governments in Germany's 16 states, Weise said, "It is now primarily the state's concern to remove all implausibilities from the database." However, he admitted that for German officials facing lines of people out their office doors, prioritizing database clean-up might prove tricky.

Vastly outdated data, EU citizens listed as needing to leave Germany: Just some of the mistakes that pepper the database, the commissioner for refugee management said. And the resulting consequences could be serious. Erroneous categorizations and sloppy mistakes fill the Central Register of Foreign Nationals (AZR), the former head of Germany’s Office for Migration and Refugees, Frank-Jürgen Weise, said in ... Read More »

Germany raises Mosul aid by 100 million euros

Germany has said it will provide an additional 100 million euros in aid to help rebuild the Iraqi city of Mosul after it was recaptured from Islamist extremists. Much of the city is in ruins after months of fighting. The German government says it will massively step up its financial aid to the northern Iraqi city of Mosul after its liberation from so-called "Islamic State" (IS) militants, who held the city for three years. "Now that Mosul has been liberated, we will quickly expand our programs. This year alone we will invest an additional 100 million euros ($117 million) in stabilization and reconstruction," Development Minister Gerd Müller told newspapers of the Funke media group published on Tuesday. "We will save lives, ensure school education and create jobs," Müller said, adding that the focus would be on children, reestablishing the water and electricity supply, building housing, and medical care. The report said that Germany had up to now invested some 50 million euros in stabilizing areas around Mosul where citizens who have fled the city are being housed, and in reconstructing regions that have been freed from the rule of IS. 'Most want to return' Müller said that German support had already enabled more than 60,000 children in Mosul to go to school again and provided 150,000 people with access to vital drinking water. Most people who had fled from IS have remained in the region and want to return to the city, according to Müller, who has visited a refugee camp in the area. "It is important that we do not leave people on their own," he said. He said that IS had caused inconceivable suffering to the people of Mosul, with torture, rape and destruction being the order of the day. The liberation of Mosul from IS control was officially declared by the Iraqi government in mid-July after a months-long campaign involving the Iraqi army, allied militia, the Kurdistan Regional Government and aerial support from a US-led coalition. Read more: German jihadi schoolgirl could face jail in Iraq More than a million people have fled from Mosul and the surrounding area since the government campaign began. Several districts in the city have now been reduced to rubble, and security forces still face the task of removing mines and explosives left by the IS militants.

Germany has said it will provide an additional 100 million euros in aid to help rebuild the Iraqi city of Mosul after it was recaptured from Islamist extremists. Much of the city is in ruins after months of fighting. The German government says it will massively step up its financial aid to the northern Iraqi city of Mosul after its ... Read More »

Women’s Euro: Germany aiming for much more than the minimum against Russia

Germany go into their final Group B match at the Women's Euro in the Netherlands needing only a draw to qualify. However, coach Steffi Jones has made it clear that nothing less than a victory will be satisfactory. As is the case regarding most of their opponents, Germany's women have an overwhelmingly positive record against the Russians, who they face in their final group-stage game in Utrecht. The two teams have met each other in a total of 19 matches (including friendlies), with Germany winning 17 times, with two draws. This includes the two times the sides met in qualifying for this summer's tournament; a 4-0 win for Germany in Russia and a 2-0 win at home. A further measure of Germany's dominance is the fact that they have outscored Russia 67-8 in in those 19 contests. Despite their record against their final Group B opponents - and the fact that on four points from their first two matches, Germany only need a draw to advance - there appears to be little chance of any overconfidence as they head into Tuesday night's contest. Lack of finishing remains a concern While head coach Steffi Jones said she was happy with the result after Germany's 2-1 victory over Italy on Friday, she rightfully expressed more than a little concern about her team's finishing. It wasn't for a lack of chances that Germany weren't able to score more, having put 10 of their 25 total attempts on target. The Germans simply weren't clinical enough, having to rely on a goalkeeping error off a set piece and later a spot kick to get the two goals they needed. Jones wants more from her creative players, including newly crowned Germany Women's Footballer of the Year Dzenifer Marozsan, against Russia. "It's simply not enough. We have to score goals and work on our mistakes," the 44-year-old former national team defender said after the Italy match. "Otherwise it will be difficult to achieve our goal." Nothing but the title will do Germany of course will be satisfied with no less than a seventh-consecutive and ninth-overall women's European title, and despite their record against the Russians, they will be taking nothing for granted. "This will be a completely new match," German midfielder Kathrin Hendrich said in comments published on the German football association's (DFB) website. "We have to force our game on the Russians. There are no easy games at a European championship… We have to be more focused when we are in the final third of the pitch - to create scoring chances and put them away." Teammate Leonie Maier said she expected the Russians to be just as difficult to beat as the Italians were. Russia could potentially dump Germany out with a win, after defeating The Azzurri themselves in the opening group game. "If we want to leave the pitch as the victors we'll have to be wide awake from the first to the last minute and win the individual battles," the defender said. Asked whether the team was feeling the pressure over Germany's lack of dominance in their first two matches, Maier conceded that "a certain pressure is always present." But she also said she was confident that the team would come up with an improved performance on Tuesday evening in Utrecht. Putting a few goals past Russian goalkeeper Tatyana Shcherbak could go a long way to putting Steffi Jones' concerns to rest.

Germany go into their final Group B match at the Women’s Euro in the Netherlands needing only a draw to qualify. However, coach Steffi Jones has made it clear that nothing less than a victory will be satisfactory. As is the case regarding most of their opponents, Germany’s women have an overwhelmingly positive record against the Russians, who they face ... Read More »

Echoes of ‘92 as Denmark recall glory days

Tuesday night's friendly in Brondby was an experiment for Joachim Löw’s Germany team. But 25 years on from Denmark's most famous victory, the contest was a reminder of Danish glory and pride. With a well-earned 1-0 lead against Germany at halftime, the red-and-white-clad players walked off the field to thunderous applause. Yet the clapping quickly grew to roaring cheers as a group of middle-aged men briefly replaced them on the pitch. They are living Danish legends. 25 years ago, these same men won Denmark’s first and only major title: the 1992 European Championships in Sweden. Tuesday’s friendly commemorated the tournament’s final in which the Danish team shocked the world by beating the World Cup holders, Germany, 2-0. “The whole tournament was surreal, nobody expected anything from Denmark, it was a miracle,” said Patrick Hansen, a schoolteacher attending the game with a group of young students. Indeed, Denmark were lucky to be at the tournament at all after initially failing to qualify. But after Yugoslavia were excluded due to the ongoing conflict in the Balkans, Denmark, who had finished second in their qualifying group, took their place. Back then, Patrick was just 12 years old, the same age as most of his students today, as his country's team went from failed qualifiers to European champions in the space of a few weeks. But his students have not been so lucky - Denmark have never progressed further than a quarter-final and have failed to qualify for five major tournaments. Patrick and his class traveled about 500 kilometers on a field trip to Copenhagen. The schoolteacher then asked his students if they wanted to see “a bit of culture” and brought them to the match. “A lot of them know the story and obviously they’re not old enough to have experienced it themselves but they wanted to come and celebrate with us,” said Patrick. Lucky number 18? In the 1992 European Championship final, the Danes took the lead during the 18th minute after an unstoppable right-footed striker by John “Faxe” Jensen. In a similar fashion on Tuesday night, Christian Eriksen put Denmark in front. Coincidentally, his goal also came in the 18th minute. The goal, along with the hosts’ commemorative shirts with chevrons on the shoulders in the style of those Euro '92 kits, reminded the fans of past glory and the nostalgia inspired continuous chants. The number 18 has played a major role in for the Scandinavians. Even for schoolteacher Patrick, 18 was the number of the night as he needed 18 tickets at the last minute to take all of his students to the game. But he took a more proactive approach than just trying his luck. “I contacted the Danish Football Association on Twitter to see if there were any tickets available and they got straight back to me in about five minutes," he explained. "It was the perfect solution for us." Still reminiscing about the 1992 victory, Patrick and many fans at the Bronby stadium, as well as football romantics, hoped for a 2-0 win against an inexperienced German side – a repeat of the legendary final. However a late equalizer from Joshua Kimmich brought those dreams to an end. Still, a draw was enough for Patrick this time around. “I think it’s important that the Danish Football Association has tried to do something to raise team spirit surrounding the national team,” he said. The most important part was celebrating the time the Danish national team made him truly happy and passing that happiness along to the newer generation.

Tuesday night’s friendly in Brondby was an experiment for Joachim Löw’s Germany team. But 25 years on from Denmark’s most famous victory, the contest was a reminder of Danish glory and pride. With a well-earned 1-0 lead against Germany at halftime, the red-and-white-clad players walked off the field to thunderous applause. Yet the clapping quickly grew to roaring cheers as ... Read More »

Report: Rate of deportations stagnating in Germany

The German government is falling short of its goal to deport significantly more rejected asylum seekers, a newspaper report has found. Over 8,000 migrants have been sent back so far this year, compared to 25,000 in 2016. Within the first four months of the year, the German government has deported a significantly lower number of migrants compared to last year, according to a German newspaper report on Saturday. Citing information from Germany's federal police, the Welt am Sonntag newspaper reported that by the end of April, a total of 8,620 rejected asylum-seekers had been sent back to their countries of origin. The figures indicated a marked stagnation compared to last year, which saw a total of 25,375 deportations. This year has also seen fewer numbers of rejected asylum-seekers who voluntarily opted to return to their countries of origin. According to police figures, only 11,195 such voluntary return trips were approved during the first four months of the year. In 2016, a total of 54,006 migrants took advantage of the volunteer return program in Germany, which covers certain costs including travel expenses. German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for a "national effort" last year to encourage rejected asylum-seekers to return to their home countries. 'Lack of cooperation' with some countries After the recent drop-off in the number of refugee and migrant arrivals in Germany, Merkel and the premiers of Germany's 16 states declared that only those whose applications were approved were allowed to stay while all others "should leave Germany." A spokeswoman with the German interior ministry told Welt am Sonntag that the reason for the lower repatriation figures is that an exceptional amount of people returned to their countries of origin last year. "Repatriations and voluntary departures in 2016 took place to a particularly large extent in the west Balkan countries," the speaker said. Repatriations to other areas have proven to be much more difficult due to a "lack of cooperation" with other countries, the interior ministry said. The state interior ministry of Hesse told the newspaper that deportations to northern African countries have failed in the past due to the fact that some of the rejected asylum-seekers do not have travel documents. The deportation of rejected asylum-seekers from Germany has sparked several protests and political debates, particularly for those being sent back to Afghanistan. The German government had been sending Afghans back to supposed "safe" regions within their homeland. Following this week's deadly bombing in Kabul, Merkel announced on Thursday that Germany would be temporarily suspending all deportations to Afghanistan.

The German government is falling short of its goal to deport significantly more rejected asylum seekers, a newspaper report has found. Over 8,000 migrants have been sent back so far this year, compared to 25,000 in 2016. Within the first four months of the year, the German government has deported a significantly lower number of migrants compared to last year, ... Read More »

For Marco Sturm, Germany are very much a work in progress

Germany made it to the quarterfinals of the ice hockey world championship for a second straight year, which would usually be regarded as a success. However, for coach and GM Marco Sturm, much work remains to be done. In the hours leading up to Germany's showdown with Canada, Marco Sturm insisted that the national team could not be satisfied with just having made it to the quarterfinals for the second year in succession since he took over as head coach and general manager in the summer of 2015. "In the past we were always happy when we made it to the quarterfinals. We have to stop this. We need to be hungry for more," Sturm told reporters. "We are not at the end of our journey," he added. Unfortunately for Sturm and his men, though, Canada spelled the end of Germany's journey at this world championship, cohosted by Cologne and Paris. However, it's clear that Sturm and his coaching staff had been looking beyond this tournament the whole time. Despite having led Germany out of the wilderness that followed the 2010 world championship, the last held on home ice, Sturm knows that a lot of work remains to be done, not just on the national team, but on German ice hockey in general. In the short term, he is happy with what his team has achieved. "At the end of the day, it was a good world championship for us. We got better from game to game, which is precisely what we aimed to do," he told reporters Thursday night. "The last two games were our best and, as an underdog, we reached the quarterfinals again. So I see this home world championship as very, very positive." Improvement needed at all levels Taking a broader view though, Sturm criticized at least indirectly the current level of play in Germany's top league, the Deutsche Eishockey Liga, from which the national team draws the bulk of its talent, saying too often that players were still making wrong decisions on the ice. "Unfortunately, it happens all too often that a player takes a different route than is called for in a given situation. In part, this has to do with our league," he said. "You can see the difference with teams like Canada and Russia. Their players play in the best leagues in the world and they have to do this on a daily basis. Unfortunately, this is not the case with us. This is the main difference." Previously, Sturm has spoken about the fact that Germany still has a lot to do to improve its youth hockey program, and this he also touched on, on Thursday night. "We just have to keep working at it, especially at the youth level, at the clubs, but also in the DEL. We all just have to do a better job," he said, without getting into specifics. Contract runs out in less than a year So from his point of view, Germany, on different levels, are very much a work in progress, and there is no doubt that most of the players and indeed the German hockey association (DEB) hope that Sturm will be the guy to direct that focus for some time to come. How long he will be there, though, is not clear. His contract runs through the 2018 Winter Olympics next February and DEB President Franz Reindl has said that the association certainly wants to renew it, but as for Sturm, he is non-committal. "I am open to it. I really enjoy working with the lads, the 38-year-old former NHL star said. But he also said he hadn't really thought about it yet. "That's still too far off in the future," he said.

Germany made it to the quarterfinals of the ice hockey world championship for a second straight year, which would usually be regarded as a success. However, for coach and GM Marco Sturm, much work remains to be done. In the hours leading up to Germany’s showdown with Canada, Marco Sturm insisted that the national team could not be satisfied with ... Read More »

Walesa: Germany must assume a leading role in Europe

Germany needs to put its complexes aside and assume a leadership role in Europe, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and former Polish President Lech Walesa said in an interview with DW. DW: Where is Europe headed at the moment? Lech Walesa: That's a good question, and one that we need to find an answer for. We need to take a hard look at Europe's foundations, its economic system, its democratic model. We have to come to terms with populism, demagoguery, and abuse of political office. We have to take the mood on the street seriously, because people are unhappy, they have lost trust in established parties. Look at France: None of the established parties had a candidate in the run-off vote. Their new president is an independent, without the backing of a party. That teaches us that the structures we have don't fit with the reality. We're entering a new epoch, and we need a debate about new structures. On June 4, 2014, former US President Barack Obama gave a historic speech in Warsaw's Royal Square before many European heads of state, and he thanked you for your contribution to the fall of communism and the liberation of Eastern Europe. How do you feel when you see that same location serving as the backdrop to a march by right-wing radical nationalists, as was the case a few days ago? We don't have any solutions. And in the absence of solutions, demons will awaken. Some will go too far to the right in their search, others - like in the United States - will make an astonishing choice. And this is why we have to drive the debate forward in the search for better solutions. We have to improve our democracy, because if we don't, there will be a revolt. Which direction do you see Poland headed at the moment? Poland is moving too far to the right, and there is also too much mixing of religion with politics. People are trying things, because a lot of what we have built up in Poland since the fall of communism is incomplete. What's happening now is a response to undesirable developments, and it is challenging us to find good solutions. But it's the same situation you see across all of Europe. The discontent is everywhere, so now we need heal what ails us. The government in Poland is pursuing the wrong kind of therapy. You have to solve problems, but not in a way that breaks with democratic principles. What can be done, then, to stop the rise of populism? We have to be clear about what we don't like. We need to create the appropriate programs and structures, and use our power at the ballot box to force politicians to implement them. The right-wing scene in Poland likes to employ anti-German sentiment and paint horrific scenarios about German dominance. Do you think Germany is a threat? I feel I have the right to address this point, because I lost my father in the war. Today, Germany is the most honorable country in Europe. But the Germans have complexes. They need to put these complexes aside and assume a leading role in Europe, because as the largest power, they bear responsibility for Europe's development. We can see that there are forces out there that want to destroy Europe. It's up to Germany to be prepared for this, and to be ready to establish a new, better Europe! Interview conducted by Bartosz Dudek.

Germany needs to put its complexes aside and assume a leadership role in Europe, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and former Polish President Lech Walesa said in an interview with DW. DW: Where is Europe headed at the moment? Lech Walesa: That’s a good question, and one that we need to find an answer for. We need to take a hard ... Read More »

May Day protests kick off in Berlin

Every year tens of thousands of left-wing demonstrators hit the streets of Berlin in often violent protests. This year is the 30th anniversary of the original protests and police are taking no chances. Berlin was bracing itself on Monday for traditional May Day protests on the 30th anniversary of widespread violence. In 1987, far-left rioters battled with police for 12 hours, looting shops and burning cars. They were fighting against what they called a "bourgeois" celebration of the 750th anniversary of the founding of Berlin. Rioting on May 1 then became a regular tradition in Berlin, starting in West Berlin and spreading to the East following reunification in 1990. In 1989 protests 364 police officers were injured. In 2000 the extent of the violence led to an attempted ban on protests the following year. In 2009 after a few years of relative calm, 273 police were injured with some rioters facing attempted murder charges for throwing Molotov cocktails. Tens of thousands celebrate Witches Night Young leftist groups in Berlin often use the night night before May Day, known as Walpurgisnacht or Witches' Night - a pagan ritual to usher in spring - to go on violent, often drunken rampages through Prenzlauer Berg. This year, as in the past several years, Walpurgisnacht was relatively calm, which police saw as a hopeful omen for May Day proper. However, the fire brigade attended to several car burnings through the night. About 12,000 people descended on Prenzlauer Berg's Mauerpark on Sunday night, but police said there relatively few incidents. In the district of Wedding about 3,000 people demonstrated against rising rents, largely without issue - just three demonstrators were arrested. More than 20 demos More than 20 large-scale events were planned for May 1 throughout Berlin, though police were focusing their efforts on the main "Revolutionary May Demo" event. Organizers of the event refused to register their protest with police, normally a requirement in Germany, but police said they would nonetheless tolerate the protest and would deploy about 5,400 officers. Their planned route for the parade would go through the heart of Kreuzberg street festival MyFest, which could make policing the event difficult. Police were implementing a truck ban in areas of Kreuzberg, fearing a possible repeat of the December terrorist attack, but did not erect concrete barriers. Early rallies on Monday got off to a peaceful start. From about 10am trade unionists started marching for workers rights in Berlin, joined by Berlin mayor Michael Müller. According to union figures about 14,000 showed up. About 200 Antifa protesters turned up to a counter-rally against a right-wing Alternative for Germany party rally. Police called in extra reinforcements at about 1pm to deal the tense situation, local media reported. Myfest kicked off 10am and was attracting tens of thousands of people. They had concerts across seven stages planned and hundreds of food stalls. The main cause for concern there were the high winds which were battering Berlin.

Every year tens of thousands of left-wing demonstrators hit the streets of Berlin in often violent protests. This year is the 30th anniversary of the original protests and police are taking no chances. Berlin was bracing itself on Monday for traditional May Day protests on the 30th anniversary of widespread violence. In 1987, far-left rioters battled with police for 12 ... Read More »

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