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CRIME

Berlin thief shows heart in surprising act of kindness

Pickpockets are an ever more common phenomenon in the German capital. But sometimes they can surprise you.

Berlin thief shows heart in surprising act of kindness
Photo: DPA

In a Facebook post from Monday, a journalist for a newspaper in Bavaria describes how his stolen wallet was returned to him through the post with a heart inside.

Under the headline ‘heartfelt thanks’, Anton Sahlender describes how he was sitting in a cafe near Berlin’s central station when his wallet disappeared earlier in May.

But to his surprise he received an anonymous package through the post which contained the stolen item.

“Not a single card or form of ID was missing. Only the cash was missing.”

“The anonymous sender also put in a thumbnail sized metal heart – perhaps a sign of thanks.”

“The person who stole from me needed the money more than me – it wasn’t just a heartless person,” the 66-year-old journo told Berlin daily Tagesspiegel, explaining that €250 had been taken.

Commenters below the Facebook post remarked on how such a contradictory act fitted with the German capital.

“That’s what it’s like in Berlin, always a bit different,” said one.

But another remarked that on a recent trip to the capital he had had his wallet stolen at a currywurst stand and hadn’t seen hide nor hair of it since.

There have been several media reports recently that street theft has been on the rise in Berlin, in touristic areas such as Kreuzberg.

Meanwhile in March a local politician told The Local officers were “overwhelmed” by criminality in Alexanderplatz.

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GERMANY AND ISRAEL

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.

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