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Berlin and Hamburg attacks an anarchist ‘declaration of war’

Anarchists attacks on police stations and political offices in Berlin and Hamburg overnight were a “declaration of war” on the state, head of the German Police Union (DPoIG) told The Local on Friday.

Berlin and Hamburg attacks an anarchist 'declaration of war'
Police cars damaged in Hamburg. Photo: DPA

Unknown perpetrators, assumed to be left-wing extremists, threw Molotov cocktails, paint bombs and cobblestones at Berlin’s Treptow district Federal Criminal Police (BKA) office overnight. Meanwhile local offices for the centre-left Social Democrats and the conservative Christian Democrats were also vandalised with anti-war graffiti.

Around the same time in Hamburg, about 10 masked perpetrators attacked a police precinct in the Schanzenviertel neighbourhood, setting a police cruiser alight, damaging other police cars and breaking windows with stones.

On Friday afternoon the Berliner Morgenpost also reported that a southern wing of the Chancellory had also been vandalised with three Christmas tree decoration bulbs full of paint.

Though no one was injured in either of the attacks they are a sign of a “new escalation in the spiral of violence,” DPoIG leader Rainer Wendt told The Local.

According to his assessment, the attacks were coordinated between a growing network of anarchists between the two big cities.

“The attacks were anything but spontaneous, and executed in an almost professional manner,” he said.

The Police Union took the incidents so seriously on Friday that they encouraged the conference of state interior ministers, currently underway in Bremen, to take immediate action, hardening criminal prison sentences for attacks on officers and increasing police personnel.

But Wendt reported that police demands have so far gone unheeded.

“They’ve done nothing,” he said. “We don’t have enough police to conduct a good surveillance of these groups. We need to take them very seriously. They are prepared to kill people. It’s pure coincidence that no officers were killed last night, but we fear that this could still be ahead of us.”

Anarchist violence has been increasing in Berlin and Hamburg for several years, with more reported clashes during demonstrations with police and against neo-Nazi groups, in addition to property damage associated with anti-gentrification sentiments.

An 84-page study presented by Berlin Interior Minister Ehrhart Körting this November detailed left-wing violence in the German capital, describing the anarchists as “willing to hazard the consequences of major property damage and severe injury to people.”

In 2009, some 125 cars – many of them luxury status-symbol models – were purposely burned by so-called Autonomen in Berlin. The number has more than doubled since last year, when 72 cars were targeted. Police in Hamburg reported 150 burned cars – 16 of which were proven to be politically motivated. This number was up from a number insignificant enough not to have been reported the year before, news magazine Der Spiegel reported on Friday.

“There is lots of talk when it comes to their alleged goals. Gentrification, for example, is a catch word in Berlin,” Wendt told The Local. “Allegedly they don’t want the rich to move into their city districts. I think that’s all wrong. They don’t have any goals at all aside from blind hate against the state and order.”

According to daily Berliner Morgenpost on Friday, left-wing extremists issued a statement of admission for the Thursday night attacks on the Berlin political offices in Berlin’s Charlottenburg and Zehlendorf districts. The statement, sent to a CDU parliamentary group email address, explained that the attacks were an answer to the Bundestag’s Thursday vote to extend their mandate to provide troops for the NATO operation in Afghanistan. The email accused the politicians of being “warmongers,” and ended with the threat, “There is no safe place!”, the paper reported.

Police are investigating a possible connection between these attacks and those on the police and customs property in Hamburg and Berlin, but Wendt said without government support, such incidents will continue to occur.

“The investigation goes on, but I have little hope it will be successful,” he said. “This is a declaration of the war on the police and on the state.”

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TRAVEL NEWS

What we know so far about Berlin’s follow-up to the €9 ticket

After weeks of debate, Berlin has settled on a new budget ticket to replace the €9 ticket for a limited time. Here's what know about the travel deal so far.

What we know so far about Berlin's follow-up to the €9 ticket

So Berlin’s getting a new €9 ticket? Cool!

Kind of. Last Thursday, the Berlin Senate agreed to implement a €29 monthly ticket from October 1st until December 31st this year. 

It’s designed to bridge the gap between the end of the €9 ticket deal and the introduction of a new national transport deal that’s due to come into force by January 2023.

The Senate still hasn’t fleshed out the details in a written decision yet, so some aspects of the ticket aren’t clear, but we do know a few things about how it’ll work. For €29 a month, people can get unlimited travel on all modes of public transport in Berlin transport zones A and B. That means buses, trains and trams are all covered – but things like taxis aren’t. 

Wait – just zones A and B. Why’s that?

One of the sticking points in planning the new ticket was the fact that neighbouring state Brandenburg was reluctant to support the idea. Franziska Giffey (SPD), the governing mayor of Berlin, had annoyed her neighbours and surprised her own coalition partners by suddenly pitching the idea at the end of August – shortly before the €9 ticket was due to expire.

At the time, the disgruntled Brandenburg state premier Dietmar Woidke (SPD) complained about the lack of advance notice for a proper debate. He had previously ruled out a successor to the €9 ticket in the state. Meanwhile, the CDU – who are part of the governing coalition in Brandenburg – slammed the idea for a new cheap ticket as a “waste of money” and an attempt to “buy votes” for the SPD.

The blockade meant that plans for a Berlin-Brandenburg ticket run by transport operator VBB had to be scrapped, and the monthly ticket has instead been restricted to the two transport zones solely operated by Berlin’s BVG. Since zone C stretches into Brandenburg, Berlin couldn’t include this zone in the ticket unilaterally. 

Berlin transport zones explained

Source: S-Bahn Berlin

The good news is that zones A and B cover everything within the city’s borders, taking you as far as Spandau in the west and Grunau in the southeast. So unless you plan regular trips out to the Brandenburg, you should be fine.

However, keep in mind that the Berlin-Brandenburg BER airport is in zone C, so you’ll need an ‘add-on’ ticket to travel to and from there. It’s also not great for the many people who live in Potsdam in Brandenburg and commute into Berlin regularly. 

READ ALSO: Berlin gets green light to launch €29 transport ticket

How can people get hold of it? 

Unlike the €9 ticket, you won’t be able to buy it at stations on a monthly basis. Instead, the €29 ticket is only for people who take out a monthly ‘Abo’ (subscription) for zones A and B. If you’ve already got a monthly subscription, the lower price will be deducted automatically, while yearly Abo-holders will likely get a refund. 

You can take out a monthly subscription on the BVG website here – though, at the time of writing, the price of the ticket hadn’t been updated yet. According to Giffey, people will be able to terminate their subscription at the end of December without facing a penalty. 

What types of ‘Abos’ are eligible for the deal? 

According to Berlin transport operator BVG, people with the following subscriptions are set to benefit from the reduced price from October to December: 

  • VBB-Umweltkarten with monthly and annual direct debit
  • 10 o’clock tickets with monthly and yearly direct debit
  • VBB-Firmentickets with monthly and yearly direct debit 
  • Trainee subscriptions with monthly direct debit

People who already have reduced-price subscriptions, such as over-65s and benefits claimants, aren’t set to see any further reductions. That’s because many of these subscriptions already work out at under €29 per month for zones A and B. 

Passengers exit an U-Bahn train in Berlin

Passengers exit an U-Bahn train at Zoologischer Garten. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Jörg Carstensen

Can students with a Semesterticket get it as well?

That’s one of the things that still needs to be clarified. It’s possible that universities will choose to refund part of the Semesterticket price like they did with the €9 ticket. The Local has contacted BVG for more information. 

Can I take my bike/dog/significant other along for the ride? 

Once again, this doesn’t appear to have been ironed out yet – but we can assume that the usual rules of your monthly or yearly subscription will apply. So, as with the €9 ticket, if your bike is included in your subscription, you can continue to take it with you. If not, you’ll probably have to pay for a bike ticket.

In most cases, monthly BVG subscriptions allow you to take one dog with you for free, and also bring one adult and up to three children (under 14) with you on the train on evenings and weekends. These rules are likely to stay the same, but we’ll update you as soon as we know more. 

How much is this all going to cost?

According to regional radio station RBB24, around €105 million is set to be put aside in order to subsidise the temporary ticket. However, this still needs to be formalised in a supplementary budget and given the green light in the Senate. 

An S-Bahn train leaves Grünewald station

An S-Bahn train leaves Grünewald station. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christophe Gateau

OK. And what happens after the €29 ticket?

That’s the million – or, rather, billion – euro question right now. In its latest package of inflation relief measures, the federal government said it would be making €1.5 billion available for a follow-up to the €9 ticket.

The ticket is set to be introduced by January 2023 and will rely on Germany’s 16 states matching or exceeding the federal government’s €1.5 billion cash injection. So far, it looks set to be a monthly ticket that can be used on public transport nationally, with the price set somewhere between €49 and €69.

However, the Greens continue to push for a two-tier model that would give passengers the option of buying either a regional or national ticket. Under their proposals, the regional tickets would cost €29 and the national tickets would cost €69.

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