Job centre employee stabbed to death at work

Questions were raised across Germany about safety for officials on Wednesday, after a woman working in a job centre was stabbed to death by a client in her office – despite having taken a de-escalation course the day before.

Job centre employee stabbed to death at work
Photo: DPA

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.

A police murder squad has taken over the investigation.


DAPD/The Local/hc

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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.