One of the many women assaulted on New Year’s Eve in Cologne, Germany, told her story on camera this week.
The woman, whose name was not released, described her efforts to fight off the mob attack to Deutsche Welle, “I was touched from behind my back. And I was touched under my skirt and my buttocks were touched. I tried to defend myself, swinging my arm backwards and I almost fell down the stairs. There were so many people there, you couldn’t do anything.”
A woman described as Anna (not her real name) told Deutsche Welle that police seemed overwhelmed when she went to the police station to report the theft of her phone. “There were lots of girls, all crying uncontrollably,” she said.
So far, 120 complaints have been filed with police about a group of young men of “Arab or North African” appearance who were responsible for the assaults and for dozens of thefts. The men, who have not been identified or arrested yet, fired fireworks into the plaza located between the train station and the Cathedral, injuring one woman seriously.
The attack has sent ripples through German society, which took in nearly a million asylum-seeking immigrants last year from the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has pushed Germans to welcome the new immigrants, has said she is outraged by the attacks.
Authorities have been quick to say there is no evidence the New Year’s Eve attacks were carried out by recent immigrants, but news of the mass attack on women seems to come out only slowly after the event, as if authorities did not want to publicize what had happened.
Similar assaults were reported in two other cities in Germany, though the number of victims was much smaller in those cases.