We are united in deep sorrow, says Angela Merkel
"This is a very black day. Like millions of others in Germany I am shocked, horrified and deeply saddened by what happened yesterday evening on Berlin’s Breitscheidplatz," declared Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday morning in response to what appears to have been an attack. "12 people, who were among us yesterday, who were looking forward to Christmas, who had plans for the festive season – are today no longer with us." A barbaric and inconceivable act of violence has robbed them of their lives, she continued.
The Chancellor stressed, "I am thinking first and foremost about these people: the dead and the wounded, and their families and friends. I would like them to know that all of us, the entire country, grieve with you."
"We will find out who was behind this"
Angela Merkel thanked the emergency services and the police, who had done all they could for their fellow women and men in the shadow of Berlin’s Gedächtniskirche. The Chancellor declared that her thoughts were also with the criminal investigators. She declared her conviction that they would find out who was behind the attack. "And the perpetrators will be punished with the full force of our laws."
Chancellor expresses her deepest sympathy
A lot is still unclear about this act of violence. "But at the current stage of investigations the information we have points to this being a terrorist attack," said the Chancellor. It would be difficult to bear, she added, if it emerged that somebody who had come to Germany asking for protection and asylum were behind the tragedy. "That would be particularly repugnant, given the huge numbers of Germans who work with dedication day in day out to care for refugees. And vis à vis the many people who genuinely need our protection, and who are making every effort to integrate in our country," pointed out Angela Merkel.
Visit to the Breitscheidplatz
The Chancellor declared that she is in constant contact with the Federal President, the Federal Interior Minister and the Governing Mayor of Berlin. She has convened a meeting of the federal security cabinet.
Angela Merkel continued that she must ask herself, like millions of other people, how it is now possible to enjoy a light-hearted visit to a Christmas market. "I have no easy answer either," said the Chancellor.
"I only know that we cannot give up all that is dear to us, and we have no intention of doing so: the Christmas markets, the happy hours with family and friends outside in our squares. We do not want the fear of evil to paralyse us. Even if it is difficult at this time, we will find the strength to live as we want to live in Germany: freely, openly and together," said the Chancellor.
In the afternoon the Chancellor, Federal Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière and Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier visited Berlin’s Breitscheidplatz where the attack took place. They laid flowers between the old and new buildings of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church or Gedächtniskirche, and paid tribute to the victims with a one-minute silence.
In the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church the Chancellor wrote in the book of condolence. A memorial service will be held there at 18:00.
The police has set up an emergency hotline for families seeking information: (030)54023111. A book of condolence is available at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, Breitscheidplatz . At 18:00 a memorial service will be held in the church. The events on the Breitscheidplatz have so far cost 12 people their lives. Almost 50 people were injured in the attack.