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CRIME

Young men drive over Egyptian student then mock her as she lies dying, witnesses say

In a case of shocking heartlessness, two men in eastern Germany are accused of racially abusing a young Egyptian woman moments after their friend drove over her. Three days later, the woman died of her injuries.

Young men drive over Egyptian student then mock her as she lies dying, witnesses say
Photo: DPA

Shortly after midnight on April 15th, Shaden M. was waiting at a tram stop in Cottbus, Brandenburg. The 22-year-old was on an exchange programme at the Brandenburg University of Technology (BTU) from her Egyptian university and was enjoying a night out with friends.

But then she stepped out into the street, not noticing a car which was driving well over the 30 kilometre per hour speed limit. She was struck to the ground by the vehicle and died three days later in hospital, Tagesspiegel reports.

At first local police opened an enquiry into negligent killing by the 20-year-old driver.

But this week a crime which seemed to have been caused by youthful recklessness took on a much darker character.

A witness to the incident told local newspaper the Lausitzer Rundschau how the young men in the car responded as Shaden M. lay bloodied on the street. 

While the driver remained calm, the two passengers approached the group that had formed around the young student “and laughed and made jokes,” the 19-year-old recounted. 

Among other things the young men reportedly said, “fuck off back to your own country, then you won’t get run over, fucking asylum seeker.”

Another remarked: “I know you don’t have streets where you come from, but in Germany you need to look where you are going.”

Police interviews with other witnesses confirmed the 19-year-old's version of events.

Brandenburg police have now opened an enquiry into hate speech against the young men.

But Brandenburg's police commissioner has also ordered an internal enquiry to find out why the political element to the crime only came out over a week after it occurred, and then through a newspaper report. 

The enquiry will look into why the officers at the scene failed to look into whether there was a political motive behind the crime, something which is obligatory at all crime scenes in Brandenburg, a state with a strong far-right scene.

The case has met with outrage, with Brandenburg’s Minister for Science Martina Münch describing it as “a disgrace.”

Crime figures released by the Interior Ministry this week showed that political crime reached a record high in 2016. More than 23,500 far-right crimes were reported, and the number of violent far-right crimes rose by 14.3 percent.

CRIME

Ukrainian Holocaust survivors find safe haven in Germany

Borys Shyfrin fled as a young child, along with other members of his Jewish family, from the Nazis.

Ukrainian Holocaust survivors find safe haven in Germany

More than eight decades on, the Ukrainian Holocaust survivor has been forced from his home once more – but this time he’s found a safe haven in Germany.

Shyfrin is among a number of Ukrainian Jews who lived through the Nazi terror and have now fled to the country from which Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich launched its drive try to wipe Jews out.

He never wanted to leave Mariupol, where he had lived for decades. But Russia’s brutal assault on the Ukrainian port city made it impossible to stay.

“There was no gas, no electricity, no water whatsoever,” the 81-year-old told AFP from a care home in Frankfurt, recalling the relentless bombardment by Moscow’s forces.

“We were waiting for the authorities to come… We waited for a day, two days a week.”

Bodies of people killed by bombs and gunfire littered the streets, recalled Shyfrin, a widower who had lost contact with his only son.

“There were so many of them… no one picked them up. People got used to it – no one paid attention.”

People scraped by finding what food they could, with water supplied by a fire engine that made regular visits to his neighbourhood.

Shyfrin’s apartment was damaged during the fighting in Mariupol – defended so fiercely that it became a symbol of Ukrainian resistance – and he spent much time sheltering in the cellar of his building.

Became homeless

The elderly man eventually left Mariupol with the aid of a rabbi, who helped the local Jewish population get out of the city.

He was evacuated to Crimea, and from there, travelled on a lengthy overland journey through Russia and Belarus, eventually arriving in Warsaw, Poland.

After some weeks in Poland, a place in a care home was found in Frankfurt.

In July, he was transported to Germany in an ambulance, with the help of the Claims Conference, a Jewish organisation that has been aiding the evacuation of Ukrainian Holocaust survivors.

Shyfrin, who walks with the aid of a stick, is still processing the whirlwind of events that carried him unexpectedly to Germany.

The outbreak of war was a “very big surprise”, he said.

“I used to love (Russian President Vladimir) Putin very much,” said Shyfrin, who is a native Russian speaker, did military service in the Soviet Union, and went on to work as a radio engineer with the military.

“Now I do not know whether Putin is right to be at war with Ukraine or not – but somehow, because of this war, I have become homeless.”

Shyfrin was born in 1941, in Gomel, Belarus.

When he was just three months old, his family fled to Tajikistan to escape German Nazi forces who were occupying the region.

Many of Belarus’s Jews died during the Holocaust, in which the Nazis killed a total of six million European Jews.

In neighbouring Ukraine, the once-large Jewish community was also almost completely wiped out.

After the war, his family returned to Belarus and Shyfrin completed his studies, did military service, and settled in Ukraine, then part of the Soviet Union, in the mid-1970s.

“Traumatised”

The pensioner seemed philosophical about the twist of fate that has forced him to leave his home.

“Well, it’s not up to me,” he said, when asked about having to flee war for the second time in his life.

His most immediate concerns are more practical – such as how to access his money back home.

“I can’t even receive my honestly earned military pension,” he said.

He recently moved to a new care home run by the Jewish community, where there are more Russian speakers.

As well as helping Shyfrin on the final leg of his journey, the Claims Conference provided him with financial assistance.

It has evacuated over 90 Ukrainian Holocaust survivors to Germany since the outbreak of the conflict, a break from the organisation’s usual work of ensuring that survivors get compensation and ongoing support.

The body had long been helping to run care programmes for Holocaust victims in Ukraine.

But, as the conflict intensified, it became clear such care programmes could no longer be sustained, particularly in the east, said Ruediger Mahlo, the Conference’s representative in Germany.

“Because many of the survivors needed a lot of care and could not survive without this help, it was clear we had to try to do everything to evacuate (them),” he told AFP.

Getting them out involved huge logistical challenges, from finding ambulances in Ukraine to locating suitable care homes.

For many of the frail Holocaust survivors, it can be a struggle to grasp the fact that they have found refuge in Germany, said Mahlo.

They are fleeing to a country that “had in the past persecuted them, and done everything to kill them,” he said.

“Certainly, they are traumatised,” he said.

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