• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3
New Year's Eve sexual assaults
Police report shows their side of Cologne assaults
Police arrest a man outside Cologne main station on January 1st 2015. Photo: DPA

Police report shows their side of Cologne assaults

The Local · 7 Jan 2016, 11:08

Published: 07 Jan 2016 10:46 GMT+01:00
Updated: 07 Jan 2016 11:08 GMT+01:00

"We were already informed of the conditions in and around the station as we were arriving at our positions by emotional members of the public with crying and shocked children," a high-ranking police officer wrote in a document seen by Spiegel Online and tabloid Bild.

"On the square outside were several thousand mostly male people of a migrant background who were firing all kinds of fireworks and throwing bottles into the crowd at random."

The police vans were themselves the targets of thrown fireworks as they pulled into their parking spaces, and people immediately rushed to the officers to report thefts, violence and sexual assaults against women.

"Even the appearance of police officers on the scene... didn't hold the masses back from their actions," the report notes.

Women – with or without male companions – were forced to "run a gauntlet... beyond description" of drunken men to reach or leave the station.

Fearing that the situation could get even worse and that the ongoing throwing of fireworks could lead to injury or death, police commanders decided to clear the square outside the station beginning at around 11:30pm.

"State and federal police officers were repeatedly fired on with fireworks and had bottles thrown at them during the clearance," the report read.

Despite fights breaking out between police and people under the influence of both drugs and alcohol, the square was clear by around 12:15am.

'Officers couldn't gain control'

But the chaos around the station continued, with the officer recording "numerous crying and shocked women reporting sexual assaults by several male migrants or groups."

"The officers on the ground couldn't gain control of all of the events, attacks and crimes – there were simply too many at the same time for that to be possible."

At some points officers were too busy even to be able to record crimes people were trying to report.

The report also notes that many of the perpetrators were mocking police throughout the night and saying they knew they would face no consequences for their actions.

Crowds at times prevented officers from reaching people crying out for help and were seen threatening them as they tried to report crimes to the police.

The officer writing the report notes in concluding remarks that "the officers completed the whole deployment in heavy protective equipment and helmets between 9:24pm and 7:30am without losing their motivation" – and that "the chaotic and shaming situation on this New Year's Eve made the police even more determined".

Battle over responsibility

As more and more accounts of the events on New Year's Eve in Cologne have emerged since Monday, police and politicians have both been pointing the finger of blame.
 
On Wednesday, Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière told broadcaster ARD that "the police simply can't work this way" - effectively blaming top commanders for what happened.
 
But police unions reacted angrily to the suggestion that they were to blame - pushing back with allegations that political leaders had failed to provide the funds and personnel to let them do their job effectively.
 
"You can't criticize the police," said Rainer Wendt, leader of police union DPolG. "They simply were unable to continually clear the area with the number of officers they had available."
 
"Because of the huge press, the darkness and the masses of people a large proportion of the events couldn't be spotted by officers on the ground, only coming to light on the following day because of the large number of crime reports," Cologne police chief Wolfgang Albers told Kölnischer Rundschau on Thursday.
 
Meanwhile, the many reports that the attackers all came from an Arab or north African background have bound the Cologne attacks into the debate over Germany's refugee policy.
 
"No-one should use the attacks to discredit refugees wholesale," said Justice Minister Heiko Maas on Wednesday.
 
Story continues below…
"If there were asylum seekers among the perpetrators, that is far from a reason to place all refugees under general suspicion."
 
But for many conservatives and people on the far-right, news of the events in Cologne has confirmed rumours coursing online in recent months of increasing numbers of sexual crimes by Muslims in Germany.
 
Many are now calling for the law to be changed to allow non-citizens convicted of such crimes to be deported.

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Today's headlines
Commerzbank to make one in five staff redundant by 2020
Photo: DPA

Germany's second largest lender Commerzbank said on Thursday it plans to cut 9,600 jobs by 2020 and withhold dividends to pay for a €1.1 billion restructuring.

Germany's favourite smoker wins battle against eviction
Photo: DPA

How a pensioner with a serious smoking habit won a years-long fight for his right to keep his home - and his favourite pastime.

Thousands evacuated after WWII bomb found in Cologne
File photo of a Second World War bomb: DPA

Several thousands people were being evacuated from a district of Cologne just north of the old town on Thursday morning, after a Second World War bomb was found in a parking lot.

Kidnapped German journalist and her baby freed in Syria
File photo of a Syrian soldier: SANA/DPA.

A German woman who was kidnapped in Syria last year while she was pregnant has been freed along with her baby, the German Foreign Office said on Wednesday.

Air Berlin to cut 1,200 jobs and halve airline fleet
Photo: DPA.

Struggling Air Berlin, Germany's second-largest airline, announced on Wednesday a major restructuring plan that shrinks its fleet and cuts 1,200 jobs.

Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
Photo: Thomas Wolf/Wikimedia Commons.

From stunning chalk-white cliffs to fairy tale castles, Germany has some breathtaking sights to see, perfect for social media.

Train evacuated as passenger flips out during ticket check
Police at the scene in Leipzig. Photo: DPA

A regional train was evacuated in Leipzig on Wednesday after a passenger became aggressive during a ticket inspection.

Man arrested in Wuppertal as part of Spanish Isis raids
Police detain the suspect in Wuppertal. Photo: DPA

Police have arrested five suspected members of an Isis cell in Spain, Belgium and Germany that spread propaganda for the group online, the Spanish interior ministry said Wednesday.

Germans cut home energy usage by six percent in a year
Hamburg at night. Photo: DPA

The Energiewende is the German government's ambitious policy of drastically reducing carbon emissions. New figures show one remarkable success.

Merkel party MP under fire for using Nazi propaganda term
Bettina Kudla. Photo: Büro Bettina Kudla MdB/DPA.

A member of Angela Merkel's conservative CDU party is in hot water after tweeting over the weekend a Nazi propaganda term in her criticism of the country’s refugee policies.

Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Lifestyle
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Lifestyle
10 German films you have to watch before you die
Lifestyle
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
Lifestyle
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
National
Seven great reasons to stay in Germany this September
National
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
National
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
National
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Culture
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Rhineland
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Culture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
Lifestyle
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
Gallery
Germany's 17 Olympic gold medals in pictures
14 facts you never knew about the Brandenburg Gate
Society
Ten times Germans proved they really, really love beer
National
Six things you need to know when moving to Germany
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
International
German scientists prove birds can sleep while flying
Technology
London v. Berlin: Which is better for startups?
Lifestyle
13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
Travel
Enter if you dare: Berlin's best abandoned haunts
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
6,545
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd