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Human traffickers sell children to paedophiles

An international band of human traffickers has been caught smuggling children to Germany from Haiti and beyond, then selling them to paedophiles, officials said Friday. The group allegedly posed as an aid organisation, luring the children with promises of a better life.

Human traffickers sell children to paedophiles
Photo: DPA

Two men from Berlin were arrested at the Munich airport this week while trying to illegally enter the country with a 10-year-old, law enforcement officials told daily Berliner Morgenpost.

They came under suspicion when immigration agents suspected the boy’s Brazilian papers were forged. He was later found to be Costa Rican, though most of the children involved have been from Haiti.

Arrest warrants have since been issued for both men, with investigators from the state criminal police (LKA) and state prosecutors manning the case.

The duo, a German and a Swede, are accused of organized human trafficking.

According to an investigator the suspects have been taking children mainly from Haiti, which is still chaotic following the devastating earthquake there in January 2010. There they founded an fake aid organisation to care for underage street children, “apparently not for humanitarian reasons,” the paper reported.

Latin American children like the Costa Rican boy discovered in Munich were also victims of the group.

“The children were probably lured to Berlin under the false pretence of leading a new and better life in Germany,” an investigator said. “Among them were also orphans.”

But the real aim of the suspects was selling the children to Berlin paedophiles for sexual abuse, the paper said.

“The children were placed in a relationship of dependence and then offered to the scene. Following the expiration of their visas after three months they were sent home – with emotional trauma that one can’t even imagine,” the investigator added.

The LKA is now working with the other countries involved to uncover the structure and breadth of the trafficking organisation and find out who their customers were.

“Whoever is making the effort to bring children in from abroad for sexual assault and then sending them back again must not only have a large circle of accomplices, but also some significant influence and significant financial means,” another investigator said.

The Local/ka

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Nine of the best day trips from Munich with the €9 ticket

Summer is upon us, and travelling around Germany is cheaper than ever. If you're keen to get away from the bustle of the Bavarian capital for the day, here are nine day trip ideas to get you started.

Nine of the best day trips from Munich with the €9 ticket

Germany’s long-waited €9 ticket is finally on the scene, giving people the chance to snap up unlimited travel on regional and local transport for less than ten euros a month.

Since the offer is running through the whole of June, July and August, it’s the perfect opportunity to do some exploring outside of the major cities. In the case of Bavaria, there’s so much on offer: from dazzling alpine lakes to fairytale castles and UNESCO towns. 

If you’re based in Munich, these stunning destinations can all be reached on regional transport in under three hours, making them perfect for a day trip or even a weekend getaway. 

READ ALSO: €9 for 90: Everything you need to know about Germany’s cheap travel deal

Salzburg 

Salzburg

Salzburg’s historic centre. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-tmn | Anita Arneitz

Surrounded by soaring Alpine peaks, the Austrian city of Salzburg is a must-visit if you’re ever nearby. Immaculately preserved baroque buildings line the historic streets, giving visitors the sense of stepping back in time to the era of the city’s most famous resident: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Visiting Hagenauer Haus – the birthplace of Mozart – is a must while you’re there, as is a trip to the city’s striking modern art museum and the charming toy museum

If you decide to stay in Salzburg for longer than a day, it’s definitely worth scheduling a trip out to Germany’s Königsee. This alpine lake is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful locations in Germany – and if you make it there, you’ll see why. Simply hop on the 840 bus from Salzburg to Berchtesgaden and then switch to the 841 to Königsee. The journey takes an hour and a half but with breathtaking views to look at the whole time, the time will fly by.

Incredibly, the €9 deal will even take you across the border into Austria and as far as Salzburg for no extra charge. Simply take the RB40 from Munich East and then change to RE45 at Mühldorf. The whole journey shouldn’t take longer than 2 hours and 45 minutes. 

READ ALSO: How to explore Germany by train with the €9 ticket

Schloss Neuschwanstein

Schloss Neuschwanstein

View over Schloss Neuschwanstein. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Karl-Josef Hildenbrand

Ludwig II’s masterpiece of neo-gothic architecture is immensely popular with tourists – and it’s no wonder. Surrounded by dizzying peaks and pine forests, Schloss Neuschwanstein is straight out of a fairytale, and famously inspired the Walt Disney logo. 

Take a walking tour around the castle to hear all about the escapades of mad King Ludwig II and discover why people nicknamed him the ‘Swan King’. Just a stone’s throw away is Ludwig’s equally stunning but less famous summer residence – the colourful Schloss Hohenschwangau – which is also well worth a visit. And if you still haven’t had your fill of royalty, you can find out even more about Ludwig and his relatives at the Museum of Bavarian Kings. Otherwise, take a refreshing dip in the nearby Alpsee or enjoy some hearty southern German fare and a Helles at the atmospheric Schloss Bräustüberl Hohenschwangau

To get to Schloss Neuschwanstein, take the RB70/74/76 train from Munich Central Station to Buchloe and then change to the BRB RB77 to Füssen, which is about an hour’s walk or a short bus ride from the castles. 

READ ALSO: Five haunted castles in Germany that will creep you out

Regensburg

Regensburg's old stone bridge

Regensburg’s Old Stone Bridge and Old Town. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Armin Weigel

The university town of Regensburg, to the north of Munich, is an essential day trip for history buffs and lovers of medieval architecture. Located on the banks of the Danube, Regensburg is believed to be the northernmost Roman fort in Europe and the town has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2006. 

Incredibly, Regenburg’s Old Town managed to make it through two world wars unscathed and the town is now considered one of the best-preserved medieval cities in Europe. To soak up the atmosphere, take a meandering walk around the Altstadt and cross the old stone bridge to colourful neighbourhood of Stadtamhof – and keep an eye out for Regenburg’s iconic tower houses on the way. If you get peckish, you can stop by at Germany’s oldest sausage kitchen, which has been serving delicious Wurst to locals since the 12th Century. You can also learn about the region’s Jewish and Roman past at the fascinating Document Neupfarrplatz museum, or see a who’s-who of brilliant German men and women in the historic Hall of Fame.

To get to Regensburg from Munich, you have a choice of regional trains. The RE2 or RE25 only take around 1 hour and 20 minutes, while others such as the RE50 tend to take more of a scenic route.

Tegernsee 

Tegernsee

A view of Tegernsee and the surrounding mountains. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Matthias Balk

If you’re looking for all the natural highs that Bavaria has to offer, then look no further than the lakeside resort of Tegernsee. This stunning spot has everything from mountain peaks to a crystalline lake – not to mention endless fun activities that the whole family can enjoy. There are some immensely popular hiking and biking trails both around the lake and in the mountains – and for those who want to skip the sweaty part, the Wallbergbahn gondola will take you 1,600 feet above sea level to enjoy the best views of Tegernsee and its surroundings. 

During the summer, adrenaline junkies will love taking a ride down the hillside on the summer toboggan at nearby Oedberg or even trying their hand at paragliding. And of course, there are numerous charming Bavaria eateries and swimming beaches dotted around the lake itself.

There are great train connections between Munich and Tegernsee. The BRB RB57, for example, will take you from Munich Central Station to Gmund am Tegelsee in just over an hour. 

READ ALSO: REVEALED: 10 of the best hiking day trips from Munich

Garmisch and Zugspitze 

Wankbahn

Visitors enjoy a ride on the ‘Wankbahn’ gondola to the tip of Mount Wank. Photo: picture alliance / Sven Hoppe/dpa | Sven Hoppe

For fans of winter sports, Germany’s highest mountain should need no introduction. In summer, however, the popular ski resort of Garmisch-Patenkirchen and its famous peaks are no less captivating.

With its historic alleys lined with chocolatiers and cafes, Garmsich-Patenkirchen is worthy of a day trip in itself. But for lovers of the great outdoors, the hiking and cycling opportunities in the surrounding alps are what really makes the area special. From Garmisch, you can ascend approximately 2,600 feet to the top of Zugspitze by cable car, where you can follow adventurous hiking trials and experience a real glacier up close. Beyond Germany’s highest mountain, Garmisch is also a good starting point for a trip up the hilariously named Mount Wank, another soaring mountain with panoramic views of the valley.  

Due to a tragic train derailment, a part of the railway between Oberau and Garmisch is closed. Currently, passengers can get the RE6 from Munich to Oberau and then change to a bus to Garmisch. The journey takes about an hour and a half.

Nuremberg 

Nuremberg old town

Nuremberg’s quaint city centre. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Nicolas Armer

From fascist rallies in the 1930s to the courthouse where prominent Nazi figures were put on trial in the aftermath of WWII, nowhere quite represents the darker side of German history as much as Nuremburg. If you visit for the day, the exhibition at the Documentation Centre – housed in the old site of the famous Nazi rallies – will help you understand Nuremburg’s unique role in the far-right’s rise to power. You can also visit the Memorium Nuremberg Trials, which is housed on the top floor of the Palace of Justice where the trials took place.

It’s also worth taking a walk around the historic centre, which was largely destroyed in the Second World War but subsequently rebuilt in all its medieval charm. 

The ICE fast speed train is by far the quickest way to get from Munich to Nuremburg, but if you want to use the €9 ticket, the RE1 will take you there in 1 hour and 45 minutes. 

Taufkirchen

Body-flying at Jochen Schweizer Arena

‘Body flying’ at the Jochen Schweizer Arena. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Matthias Balk

Just south of Munich in the unassuming suburb of Taufkirchen, you’ll find the ultimate pilgrimage site for German adrenaline junkies: the Jochen Schweizer Arena. For those who don’t know, Jochen Schweizer is a German stuntman and extreme athlete who made his fortune by setting up an ‘experiences’ business which sells every type of gift experience imaginable, from wine tasting to skydiving. 

At his flagship arena, you can try anything from indoor surfing to bungee-jumping and body flying – otherwise known as indoor skydiving. On sunny afternoons, adults and kids alike can have hours of fun clambering around the outdoor high-ropes climbing course and whizzing through the air on the ‘Flying Fox’ zipwire. 

Getting to Taufkirchen from central Munich couldn’t be easier: it takes around 20 minutes on the S3. 

READ ALSO: The 9 best day trips from Berlin with the €9 ticket

Dachau 

Arbeit macht frei

The infamous ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ inscription at the entrance to Dachau. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

Spending a morning or afternoon at the former concentration camp at Dachau is a heart-wrenching experience, but it’s also a powerful way to keep the atrocities in living memory and bear witness to the stories of those who were incarcerated there. 

The former factory at Dachau was turned into Germany’s first concentration camp in March 1933 – just a few months after Adolf Hiter was appointed Chancellor of the Reich. It acted as a prototype for similar death camps elsewhere in Germany and housed about 200,000 Jewish and political prisoners during Nazi rule. 

To get the best understanding of the history of the camp, it’s a good idea to book a guided tour, though walking around the site alone can be equally moving.

It takes about 40 minutes to get to Dachau from Munich city centre. Travel north on the S2 or the RB16 regional train, and then transfer to the 726 bus from Dachau train station. 

Oberammergau

Oberammergau

A house in Oberammergau with traditional ‘Lüftlmalerei’, or frescoes. Photo: picture alliance / dpa-tmn | Ammergauer Alpen

Nestled in the mountains and just a stone’s throw from the Austrian border, you’ll find Oberammergau – a tiny alpine town with an incredibly vibrant cultural history. For almost 400 years, the people of Oberammergau have had a tradition of putting on a series of passion plays – historic performances of biblical stories – though unfortunately these only take place every 10 years. 

If you’re not lucky enough to make it there at the right time, the town still has plenty to offer. Walking around, you’ll see facades emblazoned with colourful frescoes and traditional wood carvings. For the full alpine experience, head to the Erlebnisbad Wellenberg – a huge outdoor swimming pool surrounded by breathtaking mountains. Another exciting way to see the mountains is to take a ride on the Alpine Coaster, a summer toboggan run that speeds down the hillside through meadows and pine forests. 

The quickest way to get Oberammergau from Munich is to take the RE6 or RE60 towards Innsbruck and then change at Murnau to the RE63. This route takes about an hour and 40 minutes. 

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