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CRIME

Seventh suspect arrested over killing of fireman in centre of Augsburg

A seventh and final suspect was also arrested after a deadly attack on a passer-by in Augsburg on Friday evening.

Seventh suspect arrested over killing of fireman in centre of Augsburg
A memorial of flowers and candles was laid for the victim on Sunday. Photo: DPA

A spokesman for the Augsburg police headquarters said on Monday that all of the suspects have now been caught. 

A 49-year-old professional firefighter had been killed on Friday evening in an argument with a group of young men at Königsplatz in the centre of Augsburg in Bavaria. 

The man had been at the city’s Christmas market with his wife and a couple of friends, before dining in a nearby restaurant. 

There the two couples met a group of seven young men with whom they got into an argument. One of the men hit the victim in the head, causing him to fall to the ground.

His 50-year-old companion was also beaten by the group and injured in the face. The two women were not attacked and remained unharmed. 

Police at the scene of the crime on late Friday evening. Photo: DPA

The perpetrators then fled. Emergency doctors tried to resuscitate the man on site, but the 49-year-old died in the ambulance. 

Investigators arrested the first two 17-year-old suspects on Sunday. 

The video surveillance, which the police installed at Augsburg's Königsplatz in December 2018, helped with the search.

One 17-year-old suspect is a German who also has Turkish and Lebanese citizenship. The other 17-year-old is a native of Augsburg with Italian citizenship. 

Investigators will announce further details of the case at a press conference on Monday afternoon, they said. 

Over 100 firemen held a moment of silence for their colleague at the scene of the crime on Sunday, and also laid flowers and lit candles.

Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder also gave his condolences: “We are all shaken. All our sympathies go to the fireman's family.” 

Surveillance ‘made the work of police much easier’

Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann (CSU) stressed the importance of video surveillance during arrests after the fatal attack. 

“The images made the work of the police much easier”, the CSU politician told the Augsburger Allgemeine.  

The video surveillance at Königsplatz, the central point for public transport in the city, was not put in place until December 2018 as part of a state programme, the newspaper reported. 

The Augsburg surveillance cameras which had been installed a year earlier in December 2018. Photo: DPA

Since then, the police have been monitoring the area with 15 cameras.

“We have always pushed this, and such cases show that the demand has proven to be right,” Herrmann added.

It difficult for eyewitnesses to describe the perpetrators of a crime precisely, which is why video recordings are the most important for the investigation, he said. 

However, Hermann said that video surveillance should be restricted. He said: “We don't want total surveillance, it only exists in authoritarian states.”

Instead, he said, the focus should be on trying to prevent “excessive violence” in public spaces in the first place. 

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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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