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Minister calls for passive accident onlookers to be shocked into action

DDP/The Local · 22 Nov 2009, 11:30

Published: 22 Nov 2009 11:30 GMT+01:00

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Schlie spoke out after a fatal accident last weekend near Hamburg in which a drunk driver drove his car into a young woman's car.

A fire fighter from Lübeck came across the accident scene on his way home from a party and described how a number of drivers stood by while he and a friend were trying to rescue the woman from her blazing car.

Schlie told the Sunday edition of the Lübecker Nachrichten paper that such onlookers should be shocked into taking action in the future.

“Perhaps then they would understand that it is not a film, but the ugly brutal truth, in which people often die,” he said.

The fire fighter said he and his friend repeatedly asked for assistance from drivers who were nearby.

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“We called for help, asking other car and truck drivers for a pocket knife and a fire extinguisher. But the truckers, who must have had a fire extinguisher on board, were standing on the side of the road and looking on.”

The woman died shortly after being taken to hospital while the other driver survived with serious injuries.

DDP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

13:14 November 22, 2009 by pepsionice
Three quarters of German society is this way. I've been here fifteen years, and when it comes time for a reaction to some major emergency.....they stand there like a herd of cows.

An associate was with his family at a city park about twelve years ago. There was a footbridge over the small lake....which wasn't more than four feet deep. Some kid was playing around and fell off this footbridge into the water. He was yelling and screaming for help. Amongst forty people standing within five hundred feet of the bridge....no one was reacting. My associate....an American....stood up....looked at the reaction (even though he was at the far end of this city park)....and then started running toward the kid. He stands in the middle of the footbridge and reaches down....to pull the kid up. He was the only one to react.

This is the complete opposite problem that you run into within the US. There....you have a house fire.....and three hundred people stop by the road and end up helping in some fashion. Most, you never met in your life.
14:33 November 22, 2009 by berliner12
Germans are that and that....We don't need this rants.If you fell that your country or country men is better than us, my advise is go back where you belong.As simple as that.
15:34 November 22, 2009 by The-ex-pat
Germans are that and that....We don't need this rants.If you fell that your country or country men is better than us, my advise is go back where you belong.As simple as that.

It is not about being better than anyone else, but having a feeling for another human in danger or distress. Unfortunately, the none of my business attitude is not just a German thing, but a world wide result of the ungrateful surviving and then suing for the slightest reason. Also if we do not like it here, then you are right, we can leave, as can you..... www.bild.de or similar.
23:01 November 22, 2009 by berlinski
berliner12, the fact is Germans are known to be like sheep. Ain't that why you followed the Nazi's into war 70 years ago? How many millions killed while you all stuck your head in the sand and "pretended" not to know what was going on.

The reasons you hear this about Germans from us "Auslanders" is because we are the ones who notice it about you. I come across minor incidences every day that would not be tolerated in my homeland. Such incidences as youngsters running to get to a seat first in front of an elderly person on a train. Everyone sees it and nobody says anything. What was the case recently regarding an elderly business man who was murdered at a train station by youths who were bullying some young kids whilst everyone just stood and watched?

Yes my friend, Germans are known for being sheep who follow the herd. Yes, I am an "Auslander" who lives here and I will go back to my homeland if and when I so choose. That is the point, I live by my own free will and don't follow the herd like most of your countrymen. The world has tried to save the Germans from themselves, but unfortunately it obviously isn't working. When is the next Holocaust due then? Just look at what happens in this country to people who are different. The pregnant Muslim woman who was murdered in court with a knife whilst everyone just looked on. It even happens in court, where I would expect some degree of safety.

Wake up Germany, before it all happens again. It happened before because you don't question authority.
01:16 November 23, 2009 by snorge
I doubt a holocaust will happen here again, but I do question why Germans follow the rules so willingly. I have been here 2 years and have seen stupid rules followed blindly by Germans when other "Auslanders" question their validity. It will never cease to amaze me....

Perhaps that is one reason the allied powers of WWII are still here in Germany to this day....
10:08 November 23, 2009 by victor laslo
I have a niece( 14 year old German)who only this week earned the thanks and respect from the Parents of a younger boy who had been bullied and mobbed on his way to school,my niece intervened and brought him to school safely and informed the teachers there.As with everything,once again you cannot and should not generalize.
10:38 November 23, 2009 by moistvelvet
Only last week there was a story about people trapped on a fairground ride, the fire service billed them for the rescue supported by beaurocracy. Not surprising that Germans are unwilling to help fearful of the red tape that may follow no doubt, for example would the truck driver be fined thereafter for having a non-functional discharged extinguisher in his cab?

However in the case of a woman trapped in a burning car, might it not be the case that people were simply shocked?

I agree with the other posters comment about the perception of Germans not to speak out or intervene. I often travel by bus and the times I see young kids push past old folk and grab a seat unchallenged is disgraceful, disgraceful that they do it and more so that they aren't told by anyone to show some respect.

People need to stop thinking abouth the lawful implications of their actions of helping and just stop and help!
11:29 November 23, 2009 by Bushdiver
@snorge. As far as I know the only allied forces that are still in Germany is the US and they are more than likely still here because there's no place to put them in the states.

Also even with all the onlookers and so on here in Germany I still think it's safer to walk the streets at night here than in the US. Also yes to the fact that most Germans are followers. Many will argue privately in bar meetings about this or that but hardly any will take a stance to try and change things. In the end there are idiotS in every society.
11:45 November 23, 2009 by mauricehh
Wow, you just blamed me to tolerate a new Holocaust! That is really hard!

Maybe the first step to start a reasonable discussion is to leave away those stereotypes. "That Germans", "the Americans"...

Of course it is a problem, that there are people not helping others. But you cannot generalize it. It's not "the german" who is not helping. I experienced the difference. There is no news-headline when people help others and everything is fine afterwards. And of course there is - often - a lot of fear. We were taught in fear. We were taught not to position us, because there is the danger to become extreme left or right. We were taught to be as liberal as possible. That's a result of the second world war. The post-war-generation is concerned the most, I think. But of course not everybody acts like that.

And time changes. When I look at people of my generation, I see a lot of movement. People who are standing up and demonstrate against censorship, for example. A generation without a job-warranty. A lot of people who will never be employed because their only way to earn money is to be a freelancer (more and more people will do). That will force more and more people to position themselves. To raise their voice. A lot of people do now, but they aren't heard. Because the groups are to small to be interesting for the media or they are not understood by older generations. Which is a result of the fast evolution of technology.

It is just stupid to talk about "the Germans" as sheep. It is unbelievably hard to blame "us" to tolerate a new Holocaust. That is just a punch right into the face of a multicultural society which is just right in the middle of a change-process to a globalized society (and that does not only concerns Germany).
19:17 November 23, 2009 by snorge

I am afraid you are incorrect my friend. There are other Allied troops here in Germany besides us Americans. See the article on this paper for 21 Nov 09 09:32 CET called: "British troops to leave Germany under Tories" Or see the link below.


Those are British troops here in Germany you see in the picture. There are over 25,000 of them here. France has between 2,800 and 4,000 soldiers stationed here as well. See the link below:


Both of these sources are German, so it can't be they are incorrect.

We are also not here because we have nowhere to go, but because of events that happened here 60 years ago. They stayed to maintain the peace and to keep the Russians from taking over Germany.

Now that the Soviet union is no longer a threat and Germany joined NATO, yes, we will probably go away. The British are pulling their forces and the French are considering it. We Americans have significantly reduced the footprint we had here in the 90's. Bit it's not because he have nowhere to go. Trust me, those troops here are sorely needed in many palces.

And yes, I grant you it is safer here at night than in the US. But at least I can take solace knowing that if something happens in the US, SOMEBODY is going to be willing to help me out if I am in trouble. I have done it myself a few times helping a poor unfortunate person who had a car accident or was being harassed in the street. We do that as Americans.

Jowever, I don't feel the same feeling hee unless I am with Americans.
11:54 November 24, 2009 by joesjungle
I dislike how the people quoted believe that EVERYONE must be a leader. Or even how you guys claim that Germans are dumb sheep.

Not everyone is a trained firefighter, EMT, lifeguard, etc. The only reasonable expecation of people in this type of event is to expect they would call 112 (911) and provide the required safty gear they carry.

People who put there life on the line such as Firefighers ect are not heroes they are profesionals who know the risks and accept them. Its stupid to expect the same of everyday citizens.
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