Revenge attacks spark fear of extremist violence

A string of tit-for-tat attacks in Berlin between political extremists on the far-left and right, including an alleged knife attack on a young mother walking with her three children, has given rise to fears of surging ideological violence.

Revenge attacks spark fear of extremist violence
Photo: DPA

In the past week, violence between the two sides has escalated. There have been several attacks on neo-Nazis, including assaults on high-ranking members of the National Democratic Party (NPD) and also on the xenophobic pro Deutschland group. These were followed by arson attacks on leftist premises overnight Sunday.

Some of the violence has been targeted against election campaigns ahead of Berlin’s city election in September. Berlin Interior Minister Ehrhart Körting told daily Der Tagesspiegel’s Tuesday edition that he was concerned about the danger of things spinning out of control.

“I fear above all that extremists follow every action with an opposite action,” he said. “That applies also to periods without an election. These primitive people of the left-wing extremists and neo-Nazis think in terms of revenge, as both move at the same brutal level.”

The 22-year-old wife of a neo-Nazi man prominent in Rudow in Berlin’s southeast was attacked by three men on Monday night while walking with her two young daughters and one-year-old son, who was in a pram, Der Tagesspiegel reported.

The three men jumped from some bushes and attacked the woman, but fled when a car approached. She suffered mild injuries to her upper body that did not require medical treatment, police said.

The paper reported that the woman was the wife of a prominent neo-Nazi who had himself been the subject of recent attacks. Police are now seeking the three men on suspicion of causing dangerous bodily injury.

Because of the apparent political motive, they have handed the investigation over to LKA 5, the branch of the Berlin police that deals with political crime. It was thought that the attack had possibly come from left-wing extremists, given the previous attacks on the woman’s husband, though knife attacks by so-called antifascists are unusual. The assailants spoke German, the paper reported.

As to whether the woman might have made up the assault, an officer told Der Tagesspiegel: “The investigations are still at such an early stage that we can’t rule anything out.”

In the early hours of Monday, there were five firebomb attacks on left-wing premises and residences in Kreuzberg, Prenzlauer Berg and Britz. One person was lightly injured in the arson attacks.

Over the week, the NPD’s Berlin state chairman Uwe Meenen was attacked by assailants with clubs. Also attacked was Torsten Meyer, a long-time member of the far-right Deutsche Volksunion (DVU) and who also represented the NPD on the local council of Lichtenberg in eastern Berlin.

Meyer is now regional chairman of the far-right pro Deutschland party. He was attacked on Sunday in the Karlshorst area near an election stand. A pensioner was lightly injured on Monday when masked attackers threw buckets of paint at a pro Deutschland election stand in Tempelhof.

Interior Minister Körting said that as long as such far-right parties including the NPD were not banned, police had a duty to protect their election campaign activities.

The Local/djw

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What we know so far about Berlin’s follow-up to the €9 ticket

After weeks of debate, Berlin has settled on a new budget ticket to replace the €9 ticket for a limited time. Here's what know about the travel deal so far.

What we know so far about Berlin's follow-up to the €9 ticket

So Berlin’s getting a new €9 ticket? Cool!

Kind of. Last Thursday, the Berlin Senate agreed to implement a €29 monthly ticket from October 1st until December 31st this year. 

It’s designed to bridge the gap between the end of the €9 ticket deal and the introduction of a new national transport deal that’s due to come into force by January 2023.

The Senate still hasn’t fleshed out the details in a written decision yet, so some aspects of the ticket aren’t clear, but we do know a few things about how it’ll work. For €29 a month, people can get unlimited travel on all modes of public transport in Berlin transport zones A and B. That means buses, trains and trams are all covered – but things like taxis aren’t. 

Wait – just zones A and B. Why’s that?

One of the sticking points in planning the new ticket was the fact that neighbouring state Brandenburg was reluctant to support the idea. Franziska Giffey (SPD), the governing mayor of Berlin, had annoyed her neighbours and surprised her own coalition partners by suddenly pitching the idea at the end of August – shortly before the €9 ticket was due to expire.

At the time, the disgruntled Brandenburg state premier Dietmar Woidke (SPD) complained about the lack of advance notice for a proper debate. He had previously ruled out a successor to the €9 ticket in the state. Meanwhile, the CDU – who are part of the governing coalition in Brandenburg – slammed the idea for a new cheap ticket as a “waste of money” and an attempt to “buy votes” for the SPD.

The blockade meant that plans for a Berlin-Brandenburg ticket run by transport operator VBB had to be scrapped, and the monthly ticket has instead been restricted to the two transport zones solely operated by Berlin’s BVG. Since zone C stretches into Brandenburg, Berlin couldn’t include this zone in the ticket unilaterally. 

Berlin transport zones explained

Source: S-Bahn Berlin

The good news is that zones A and B cover everything within the city’s borders, taking you as far as Spandau in the west and Grunau in the southeast. So unless you plan regular trips out to the Brandenburg, you should be fine.

However, keep in mind that the Berlin-Brandenburg BER airport is in zone C, so you’ll need an ‘add-on’ ticket to travel to and from there. It’s also not great for the many people who live in Potsdam in Brandenburg and commute into Berlin regularly. 

READ ALSO: Berlin gets green light to launch €29 transport ticket

How can people get hold of it? 

Unlike the €9 ticket, you won’t be able to buy it at stations on a monthly basis. Instead, the €29 ticket is only for people who take out a monthly ‘Abo’ (subscription) for zones A and B. If you’ve already got a monthly subscription, the lower price will be deducted automatically, while yearly Abo-holders will likely get a refund. 

You can take out a monthly subscription on the BVG website here – though, at the time of writing, the price of the ticket hadn’t been updated yet. According to Giffey, people will be able to terminate their subscription at the end of December without facing a penalty. 

What types of ‘Abos’ are eligible for the deal? 

According to Berlin transport operator BVG, people with the following subscriptions are set to benefit from the reduced price from October to December: 

  • VBB-Umweltkarten with monthly and annual direct debit
  • 10 o’clock tickets with monthly and yearly direct debit
  • VBB-Firmentickets with monthly and yearly direct debit 
  • Trainee subscriptions with monthly direct debit

People who already have reduced-price subscriptions, such as over-65s and benefits claimants, aren’t set to see any further reductions. That’s because many of these subscriptions already work out at under €29 per month for zones A and B. 

Passengers exit an U-Bahn train in Berlin

Passengers exit an U-Bahn train at Zoologischer Garten. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Jörg Carstensen

Can students with a Semesterticket get it as well?

That’s one of the things that still needs to be clarified. It’s possible that universities will choose to refund part of the Semesterticket price like they did with the €9 ticket. The Local has contacted BVG for more information. 

Can I take my bike/dog/significant other along for the ride? 

Once again, this doesn’t appear to have been ironed out yet – but we can assume that the usual rules of your monthly or yearly subscription will apply. So, as with the €9 ticket, if your bike is included in your subscription, you can continue to take it with you. If not, you’ll probably have to pay for a bike ticket.

In most cases, monthly BVG subscriptions allow you to take one dog with you for free, and also bring one adult and up to three children (under 14) with you on the train on evenings and weekends. These rules are likely to stay the same, but we’ll update you as soon as we know more. 

How much is this all going to cost?

According to regional radio station RBB24, around €105 million is set to be put aside in order to subsidise the temporary ticket. However, this still needs to be formalised in a supplementary budget and given the green light in the Senate. 

An S-Bahn train leaves Grünewald station

An S-Bahn train leaves Grünewald station. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christophe Gateau

OK. And what happens after the €29 ticket?

That’s the million – or, rather, billion – euro question right now. In its latest package of inflation relief measures, the federal government said it would be making €1.5 billion available for a follow-up to the €9 ticket.

The ticket is set to be introduced by January 2023 and will rely on Germany’s 16 states matching or exceeding the federal government’s €1.5 billion cash injection. So far, it looks set to be a monthly ticket that can be used on public transport nationally, with the price set somewhere between €49 and €69.

However, the Greens continue to push for a two-tier model that would give passengers the option of buying either a regional or national ticket. Under their proposals, the regional tickets would cost €29 and the national tickets would cost €69.