Thousands missing over the holidays

More than 5,000 people – and nearly 2,000 children – are registered with authorities as missing nationwide, according to statistics released on Monday.

Thousands missing over the holidays
Photo: DPA

About 50 percent of people who go missing are found within a week and 80 percent within a month. Three percent of people are still missing after a year, the Federal Criminal Police (BKA) said.

Though missing children are of particular concern – about 50,000 are reported as missing each year – in 98 percent of cases they are found quickly.

“Most children are at home again within a few hours, or at most after two weeks,” said Carl Bruhns, head of the Missing Children Initiative, which is dedicated to helping track down missing kids.

Many of those children are runaways, fleeing a difficult family life, problems at school or just seeking adventure. Particularly in the summer, they often end up in Berlin or Frankfurt before finding their way back home, Bruhns said.

But when children go missing for months or years, it becomes much more difficult to track them down. The Missing Children Initiative has a map on its website that shows many of those cases. They’re often frustrating, terrifying and inexplicable for anxious parents.

Bruhns pointed to the mysterious case of Georgine Krüger who in 2006 disappeared while walking a few hundred metres from a Berlin bus stop to her parents’ house.

“The girl disappeared without a trace,” he said.

The Local/DAPD/mdm

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Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

The German government says it is in talks over further compensation for victims of the attack on the Munich Olympics, as the 50th anniversary of the atrocity approaches.

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

Ahead of the commemoration in September, relatives of the Israelis killed have indicated they are unhappy with what Germany is offering.

“Conversations based on trust are taking place with representatives of the victims’ families,” a German interior ministry spokesman told AFP when asked about the negotiations.

He did not specify who would benefit or how much money had been earmarked, saying only that any package would “again” be financed by the federal government, the state of Bavaria and the city of Munich.

On September 5th, 1972, eight gunmen broke into the Israeli team’s flat at the Olympic village, shooting dead two and taking nine Israelis hostage, threatening to kill them unless 232 Palestinian prisoners were released.

West German police responded with a bungled rescue operation in which all nine hostages were killed, along with five of the eight hostage-takers and a police officer.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists  held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Horst Ossingert

The spokeswoman for the victims’ families, Ankie Spitzer, told the German media group RND that the amount currently on the table was “insulting” and threatened a boycott of this year’s commemorations.

She said Berlin was offering a total of €10 million including around €4.5 million already provided in compensation between 1972 and 2002 — an amount she said did not correspond to international standards. 

“We are angry and disappointed,” said Spitzer, the widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer who was killed in the attack. “We never wanted to talk publicly about money but now we are forced to.”

RND reported that the German and Israeli governments would like to see an accord by August 15th.

The interior ministry spokesman said that beyond compensation, Germany intended to use the anniversary for fresh “historical appraisal, remembrance and recognition”.

He said this would include the formation of a commission of German and Israeli historians to “comprehensively” establish what happened “from the perspective of the year 2022”.

This would lead to “an offer of further acts of acknowledgement of the relatives of the victims of the attack” and the “grave consequences” they suffered.