Search for missing Berlin teen Rebecca reopened

More than six months after the disappearance of 15-year-old Rebecca Reusch from Berlin, police have started a new search operation in east Brandenburg.

Search for missing Berlin teen Rebecca reopened
Police vehicles in the forest near Kummersdorf. Photo: DPA

On Tuesday around 100 police and search dogs gathered in Kummersdorf, about 25 kilometres southwest of Berlin, to search for the girl, who was reported missing by her mother on February 18th after she failed to return home from school. Members of the homicide commission were also deployed. 

According to the police, however, it is still unclear how the search will proceed.

 Police looking for evidence on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

“The Homicide Commission will announce this on Wednesday after the evaluation of today's search, if necessary,” a spokesperson told DPA

At the beginning of March, police combed through the forest extensively for any indications of evidence for the missing teenager, but called off the search later that month.

READ ALSO: Missing teen story grips Germany as police call off search

The student was last seen alive on the morning of February 18th at her brother-in-law Fabian R.’s apartment. 

The suspicion fell on Fabian R, who was placed in pre-trial custody, but was released later due to lack of evidence. Reusch's family claimed his innocence.

Current search

The current search was started at the initiative of Berlin’s homicide commission. Yet the police did not want to reveal whether there were any new pieces of evidence.

The area southeast of Berlin was already the focus of the police in the spring, because Florian R. was said to have been on the A12 motorway in the direction of Frankfurt (Oder) on the day of her disappearance, as well as the evening that followed. 

Police and prosecutors assume that Reusch was killed.

A social media image of Rebecca Reusch. Image: DPA

The police had searched forests and lakes for many weeks. Special search dogs, boats and divers as well as thermal imaging cameras were used.

At the beginning of August a spokeswoman of the Berlin public prosecutor's office had said that there were no new leads, but that the investigation was continuing. 

A public prosecutor's spokesman had previously said that Reusch was “not a cold case, but on the contrary”. He used “cold case” in English, implying an unsolved mystery.

1,700 tip-offs

As reported by The Local, the story has gripped Germany ever since the teenager was first reported missing on February 18th. 

In early March the police searched a forested area in Rieplos, Brandenburg, after receiving over 1,700 ‘tip-offs' from the general public that the location may hide secrets of Reusch's disappearance. 

Many of the tip-offs were prompted by the airing of an episode of 'Aktenzeichen XY' on ZDF which focused on Reusch's case.

Berlin police are asking anyone with additional information to call the phone number +49 30 4664 90 4090.

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Hamburg to ban fireworks in city centre on New Year’s Eve

This year there will be a ban on fireworks on Hamburg's Jungfernstieg, a promenade that stretches through the centre of the city.

Hamburg to ban fireworks in city centre on New Year's Eve
Fireworks in Hamburg on New Year's Eve in 2013. Photo: DPA

The risk of injuries has increased in recent years due to the improper use of fireworks, as well as a skyrocketing number of people pouring in for the festivities, said Senator of the Interior Andy Grote, of the centre-left SPD. 

The situation on Silvester is also difficult for emergency forces due to aggression from the crowd, filled with many who have been heavily drinking.

Therefore, the fireworks around the Binnenalster – the Inner Alster Lake – are prohibited, he said.

This year there will also be more police officers on hand to implement the ban, although Grote did not provide an exact number. 

Similar bans already exist in cities such as Hanover and Cologne, and a partial ban is going into effect this year in Berlin. 

German law allows the private use of fireworks only for 48 hours surrounding New Year's Eve, although in Berlin firecrackers are only permitted from 6pm on New Year's Eve to 7 am on New Year’s Day.

READ ALSO: Fireworks in Germany: What you need to know about ending the year with a bang

A discussion about New Year's Eve fireworks around Germany will also be on the agenda this Thursday at a press conference in Baruth, Brandenburg.

Last year, 10,000 people came to the area around the Binnenalster in Hamburg, said Ralf Martin Meyer, police president of the Harbour City. Many families with children were also among them.

“Of course, alcohol also plays a role. Missiles are fired in a way that is not safe,” said Meyer.

Last year, five policemen were injured. In addition, a seven-year-old child suffered a facial injury, and a 16-year-old boy sustained a hand injury.

Through a large-scale information campaign, the police are aiming to inform the public about the ban. 

Posters, flyers in various languages and information on public transport is being made available around the city.

“The ban is nothing special, it exists in many cities,” Grote said, pointing out that it was decided in accordance with the country’s Hazard Prevention Act. 

The Jungfernstieg has developed into a focal point in recent years, he said as similar problems don’t exist around the St. Pauli Piers, another popular celebration point.

Berlin ban 

Also responding to dangerous displays of fireworks and “street battles”, Berlin authorities decided in January to impose a partial fireworks ban starting this Silvester.

People in the German capital will no longer be able to set off fireworks in Schöneberg, around the Pallasstraße area, and at Hermannplatz in Neukölln.

READ ALSO: Berlin to impose New Year's Eve fireworks ban in two zones

A ban is already in place around the area of the street called Straße des 17. Juni and Potsdamer Platz in Mitte, meaning there will be three prohibition zones in Berlin in total.

Several injuries, as well as 49 attacks on firefighters and 40 on police officers were recorded during the last New Year's Eve.


Fireworks – (das) Feuerwerk

New Year's Eve – (das) Silvester

crowd – (die) Menschenmenge

A way/method/kind – (die) Art und Weise

A focal point – (der) Kristallisationspunkt

We're aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.