• Germany's news in English

Job centre employee stabbed to death at work

The Local · 26 Sep 2012, 18:40

Published: 26 Sep 2012 18:40 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

A police union even blamed the complicated laws which regulate the lives of those without work for the attack in Neuss, near Düsseldorf.

“When it concerns someone’s existence, then sudden, irrational actions fuelled by anger and desperation are anything other than unforeseeable,” said Erich Rettinghaus, chairman of the North Rhine-Westphalia DPolG police union.

The 52-year-old man entered the 32-year-old woman’s office without an appointment at about 9am on Wednesday. There were no witnesses to the conversation but she was stabbed so badly with a knife that she died shortly afterwards, despite the first-aid efforts of her colleagues, the Düsseldorf state prosecutor said.

The alleged attacker was arrested shortly afterwards nearby. He and the dead woman did not have a personal relationship, the prosecutor said.

Initial investigation suggested she had not activated the special emergency button on her computer keyboard which would have alerted colleagues that she was in trouble.

The fact that such a system exists and that she had been on a de-escalation course just a day before she died, demonstrates the problems with violence at job centres and efforts to prevent attacks.

“Nothing, absolutely nothing justifies such actions,” said Heinrich Alt, member of the Labour Agency board. But he added that “our staff cannot lock themselves away behind bullet-proof glass. We need to work on a trust basis with our clients. And for this we have to remain an open authority.”

The job centre will remain closed until the end of the week. At least 15 people who witnessed the consequences of the attack were treated on the scene for shock.

Story continues below…

A police murder squad has taken over the investigation.


DAPD/The Local/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

19:46 September 26, 2012 by smart2012
52 years old age is very dangerous these days with jobs. Many people (senior managers/mid managers) get fired and they are obliged to deal with people that treat them like "hartz 4" people. I am not justifying this guy, but i was not surprised when i saw he is 52
19:55 September 26, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
Never justified this sort of thing. But it must be said, a lot of Beamters could do with some charm school training. Probably does not apply to this unfortunate situation but I can see how people feel like going over the top when in a situation where you are at the mercy of a Beamter.
19:57 September 26, 2012 by smart2012
berlin fur alles, as always, i agree with you :-)
20:30 September 26, 2012 by Karl_Berlin
My understanding is that JC staff are not government employees but instead employees working for a "business" that won the contract to deal with job-related matters on behalf of the State. Not sure if I am right, but I thought only the Bundesagentur für Arbeit (ie those who deal with people on ALG1) had properly qualified staff. From my understanding, lots of JC staff themselves are on precarious contracts....

Just an aside, and I may be wrong.

What does surprise me most if how infrequently such attacks happen (although from a couple of Google checks, it does appear to actually be quite common). People going to the JC are invariably not in a good situation and the masses of rules, regulations, deadlines and bullshit would be enough to drive anyone a little bid mad. Add desperation into the mill and you have a recipe for disaster.
21:22 September 26, 2012 by Englishted
Anyone who has dealings with job centres will understand this mans anger ,however what he did is unforgivable it must have been premeditated or why carry a knife ?.

They make you apply for jobs (agency jobs ) where you are not qualified (sent me to one where it stated must speak Russian ) ,they tend to be bullying or patronising ,and never once have I arrived at the door and not been made to wait outside in the corridor ,just to show who is boss.

Mine is 24.6 km away but they will never let you make appointment to see different departments on the same day no a 3/4 hour drive will do you good.

I hope I don't have to return but the way things are in the job market you never can say never again .
22:08 September 26, 2012 by Steve1949
I feel sorry for this woman and her family but to be honest, it is no surprise that things like this happen at the JC. I had the misfortune of having to go there myself at the age of 61. I don't know if all of the employees there are like the one I had, but she was the rudist, non helpful non caring individual I have ever met. Maybe if the employees were to treat people like human beings things would be different.
22:47 September 26, 2012 by lucksi
The most unfriendly, uncaring and unhelpful people I ever had the misfortune in meeting worked at those centers.

Basically, if you treat some old dude like they treated me at 18, I can totally understand a stabbing. I just said Fark it and left and did not get any help; but if you have to go to them after a lifetime of working and are looking at pretty much losing everything because you won't find a job again (and get shifted right into Hartz4) and then get the uncaring patronising talk of someone who will never have to worry about their job...

I'm not saying he should have done that, but I understand.
08:59 September 27, 2012 by Anee-One
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
09:45 September 27, 2012 by freechoice
insensitive, uncaring, indifferent staffs and negative thinking and low self esteem help seeker who can't speak fluent German is looking for a way out by being self righteous and seeking own justice are definitely the best recipes for such disaster. of course no violence should be justified unless it is for self defense.
09:55 September 27, 2012 by Anee-One
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
11:48 September 27, 2012 by lucksi
I am where I came from. And I am not ok with anyone murdering anyone else, just that I understand it.

It is quite simple, at those centers you are not being treated like a human being so you don't treat them the same way.

Oh, I have been unemployed for three quarters of a month in my entire life. That was right after my apprenticeship. Right after a government ceremony honoring the apprentices who had the best results in their profession in fact. And then being treated like a subhuman for daring to register myself as unemployed and taking up valuable time of those highly motivated employees who much rather chat among themselves instead of giving snide remarks to the job seekers. The nerve of us rabble.

And btw, you should get housing, healthcare and money at a fingersnip, because unemployment insurance is also deducted from your paycheck without your ok. If you are forced to pay, you should also get the benefits if you lose the job. Simple as that.

And my employees are nice to me. And I to them. And they to each other. No stabbings at my company. Funny that.
12:33 September 27, 2012 by Anee-One
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
12:39 September 27, 2012 by lucksi
@Anee-One: You sound like one of those great and nice humanitarians who work at those centers.
12:54 September 27, 2012 by Anee-One
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
14:15 September 27, 2012 by Morseman
Why is it that an exchange of opinions degenerates into personal abuse? I read the same types of insults in the UK press comments columns. Being abusive to another person is not a reflection of that person's character.

Best wishes to all except the really nasty people...
15:06 September 27, 2012 by lucksi
normal person + internet anonymity = some words that are censored here...
17:03 September 27, 2012 by Karl_Berlin
Look, I don't think anyone is justifying this guy's actions, but I believe a lot of people 100% understand them. There is a not-so-subtle difference.

I know people who worked hard their whole lives who due to circumstances beyond their control (bank greed among them) are now out of work and living on the absolute breadline. If you threaten someone on the absolute breadline with further cuts or even talk down at them in some way, I can 100% and unreservedly understand someone going postal.

I often think about all the crap going on in the world and ask myself why more people don't go postal on a day-to-day basis. We're being screwed by banks, governments, corporations, etc. I was at a job interview over a year ago where they wanted someone with 100% bilingual skills, a degree in business and 4+ years work experience. And then at the end of the interview I was informed they paid 800 EUR. Brutto. I felt a deep and immediate sense of anger and told them in no uncertain terms that they are the scum of society. I happened to be calm on that day as I didn't need the job, I was just looking for a change and knew I'd go back home to my current work where I earn way, way beyond that. However, I imagined some father or mother with 2 kids at the same interview being told at the end 800 EUR. And all I can enviage is someone going absolute postal. The top 1% is doing well and doing its damnedest to maintain its position - all the while the people at the bottom are scrambling for pure existence.

I reckon a revolution is long, long, long overdue.

I know this is a bit off topic, and I know it's terrible that a woman doing her job was murdered, but as a person I spoke to earlier about this topic said, anyone working for the government pushing through their draconian measures against the poorest of society is somewhat akin to the Nazis' "I was just doing my job" mentality. When you hear some of the horror stories of how people are treated and how many cases people win against the JCs once they appeal to the courts, you'll understand why it is an inevitability that this will happen again.
18:41 September 27, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
Anne-one, you are clearly speaking from your high horse. If you read our comments nobody is justifying the killing. What needs to happen is to examine the symptoms of a social disease. So hop off your high horse and with your feet on the ground have a look around you. Old age pensioners searching for bottles in the bins to subsidise their pensions.

People who want to work and want to maintain their dignity are treated like dirt by an upstart glorified Customer Support rep in the JC only because they don't qualify for ALG1 any more and are fighting for survival. No doubt there are people who dont want to work but to treat everyone on HartzIV as such by JC employees with no compasion is totally wrong. Why do JC employees think they are justified in being like this? Nobody is saying this particular employee was like this and certainly not deserving of being killed. But like I said this case here is just a symptom of something being rotten in the state of Germany. I can see this happening again until JC employees get some charm school training and start treating people with a little respect,
19:02 September 27, 2012 by Karl_Berlin
Spot on Berlin für alles. Some would say the "real" crime is what is happening to the masses. Of course this killing is a crime, but in the greater scheme of things, the way the 6.7 million at the bottom end of society are treated is disgraceful. And the amount of people I see bin-dipping to get a few extra cents to ensure mere survival is disgusting. That too is a crime that need some serious consideration. This of course won't happen and instead newspapers will be filled with stories of murders with no actual real background or substance.
20:18 September 28, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
Thank you Karl. You have spotted my point. The Job Centre are just the front line who will take a lot of the flak from those who are being squeezed hardest by the top echelons whose only consideration is profit and cheaper labour at all costs. The unemployed are collateral damage and a cost that needs to be reduced to maintain profit margins. This is just an example of someone squeezed too hard and it matters not whether this person is a German national or immigrant. How many other problems do the JC workers have with people flipping out with sheer frustration and how often do these same JC workers exhasberate the problem with their flippant treatment of these people.

PS, I note Anne-onne's comments on this topic and others have been removed. I can only guess from the topics that she blames all these problems on non-Germans. A BILD reader is my guess.
20:49 September 29, 2012 by Karl_Berlin
I like the TT forum as it's a bit of banter and you can actually meet some pretty cool people there. However, most so-called media establishments are utter rags. Where will the follow-up to this or any of the other stories be? Where is the deeper investigative journalism? How about a story in a couple of weeks about this guy's motives, how these are potentially reflective of the BS going on in society to the absolute detriment of those unfortunate enough to be "customers" of JCs?

As one of many, many examples, I remember the hype about the Japanese nuclear meltdown. It was 24/7 on every news channel. Then it just dropped out of the media as if it never happened. Nothing about the long-term fall-out. I know some reputable news establishments do have "one year later"-type reports, but the media for me are nothing but a group of story merchants. It's all about the immediate story and never about the actual story (there are some exceptions, but I suspect The Local "might" not to be among them).
16:57 September 30, 2012 by blackboot11
I recently sent in some forms to a Government Amt here in Berlin this week with a request for 1 additional page that was missing from my original packet. The information on the forms that I did send in included my name, address, land line, handy number and email. i got a response from them in the POST saying ..."we are dedicated to the ecology and being green therefore we do not send forms to clients in the post." This letter (which was sent in the post) was also hand signed and stamped by an Amter.....

If they are true to their words why did they just not call or email.....or mail me the 1 page that I had requested... IDIOTS!
23:27 September 30, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
The Deutsche Beamter. A dinosaur that should be long extinct in this day and age. A mind and a law to themselves. Funny how Germany insists on Austerity for other EU countries which means streamlining public service and yet Germany has the untouchable "job for life" system still in place for the untouchable Beamter.
13:52 October 5, 2012 by marty84
You have to attack them to stop them attacking you i am sorry to say is the only way at the moment. If you give them an inch they will sanction you straight away so they hit there targets/get there bonus. People are having panic attacks and being made to believe they are not good enough for a decent job, they make you depressed and you are left with 2 options or one option if you refuse to commit suicide - ATTACK. The ladys family should sue the government or EU for f'#'ing with peoples heads/lifes.
Today's headlines
Creepy clown scare spreads to Germany
Two of the clowns were apparently equipped with chainsaws. Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP file picture

Police said Friday five incidents involving so-called scary clowns had occurred in two north German town, including one assailant who hit a man with a baseball bat, amid fears that Halloween could spark a rash of similar attacks.

Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd