Germany: Migrants Behind Much of New Year’s Eve Violence

03 January 2023, Berlin: A burned-out tour bus stands in front of a damaged apartment building in the Neukölln district of Berlin after riots on New Year's Eve. Photo: Fabian Sommer/dpa (Photo by Fabian Sommer/picture alliance via Getty Images)
Fabian Sommer/picture alliance via Getty Images

Following several violent incidents across Germany on New Year’s Eve, police and firefighters have noted a high number of young immigrants involved in the violence, which included attacks on emergency services.

Young migrants were allegedly involved in much of the violence across the country on New Year’s Eve, according to local witnesses, police and firefighters, with one incident seeing a man with an Albanian flag fire a flare gun at a police vehicle.

Although it has taken until now for more solid information about the nature of the violence to emerge, even at the time Germany’s Bild hinted at the circumstances when it reported on New Year’s Day that the violence in Berlin had been concentrated in migrant “hot spot” neighbourhoods. Now Die Welt reports 18 nationalities were arrested on the night, with just 45 of 145 arrested holding German citizenship.

The largest groups otherwise of those arrested include Afghans and Syrians, the report said.

German journalist Frank Schneider lamented the trend for delaying or suppressing the reporting of the influence of immigration in crime in an opinion article for the tabloid Bild, stating that “Politicians prefer to call for a general ban on firecrackers than to clearly name the perpetrators. No outcry from the upright in defence of the rule of law. People are afraid of being considered racist.”

According to Schneider, police and government officials are afraid to acknowledge the links between migration and the violence on New Year’s Eve due to such rhetoric being used by populist politicians and political parties.

“Citizens are noticing that more and more is slipping. In times of growing economic problems, it is extremely dangerous if there is also the feeling that certain problems are deliberately concealed. Or played down,” he wrote.

New Year’s Eve violence took place in several major German cities, including Berlin where around a hundred people were arrested. In North Rhine-Westfalia, 250 people were arrested on New Year’s Eve. Left-wing senator Andy Grote notes “The issue of migration background also plays a role here”, Welt reported.

The Berlin fire brigade was called out for 1,700 separate incidents on New Year’s Eve, 700 more than the previous year, with a bus set on fire in the district of Neukölln. Firefighters who attempted to put out the bus fire were also attacked by youths.

In total, 22 people were injured due to firecrackers and rockets, while emergency services were attacked in 38 incidents, leading to 15 injuries, including one hospitalisation. Elsewhere in the city police were attacked with stones and iron bars by masked men.

Interior Minister Nancy Faeser later commented on the night of violence saying, “This is a level of violence that leaves us stunned and angry – and it shows a brutalization that requires consistent action.”

“Chaotic and violent criminals have attacked police and rescue forces with massive brutality, fired firecrackers and rockets, hindered, threatened and put them in great danger,” Faeser said and added, “The people who protect us all must be able to fully trust that the rule of law will also protect them.”

Violence on New Year’s Eve is not a new phenomenon in Germany and other parts of Europe, and migrants have been linked to some episodes of violence in recent years, the most well-known being the mass sex attacks that took place in Cologne on New Year’s Eve in 2015.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)



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