On August 25, 2017, I visited Breitscheid Place in Berlin, where an Islamic killer after having shot the driver of a truck of which he took control of and ran down twelve people on December 19, 2016. In memory of the victims there is a provisional memorial behind the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church.
The provisional memorial also references the recent terrorist attack in Barcelona on August 17, 2017 in which seventeen people were ran down and killed.
When I saw the list of victims in Barcelona, I immediately noticed the big difference to the list in Berlin. The victims in Barcelona have names and faces. With one exception, all the other German nationals murdered in Berlin remain anonymous.
The German government’s treatment of the victims’ memory in Berlin is shameful. On December 19, 2016, twelve faceless “persons” weren’t just snuffed out, but specifically Fabrizia di Lorenzo, Lukasz Urban, Sebastian B., Dalia Elyakim, Naďa Čižmárová, and a human being and another human being and another and another and another and another and another.
Naďa Čižmárová from the Czech Republic was 34 years old when she was murdered. Her son was five years old at the time. Today, the boy asks his father: „And what if someone kills you?“
Dalia Elykim from Israel was 60 years when she was murdered. She died while she strolled with her husband Rami at the Christmas market. Rami survived seriously injured.
Fabrizia di Lorenzo from Italy was 31 when she was murdered. At her funeral, the Bishop said, „She was like an angel with spread wings, a woman with ideals who loved life.“
Lukasz Urban from Poland was 37 when he was murdered. He drove the truck, which the killer hijacked and then ran down eleven people, killing them. His seventeen year old son survives him.
We know nothing about the other victims of December 19, 2016. These are people without faces. They are just eight cold, bureaucratic numbers! Eight victims without faces and unknown existences.
It is striking that it is mainly the German victims who are reduced to numbers. Is it a German custom to perceive victims not as individuals but cynically as a numerical sum?
As long as the victims have no faces or existences, German politicians will continue to repeat such superfluous words as „We won’t let our way of live be interrupted!“
Who is this „we“? On December 19, 2016 not only were the victims’ “way of life” interrupted, but their very existences were snuffed out! The “we” obviously doesn’t include the murdered.
Any politician who says „We won’t let our way of live be interrupted“, excludes the victims of the attack.
Indeed something was taken from us on December 19, 2016: twelve existences, twelve people who wanted to live and to love, twelve people with names and faces.
„God reveals Himself in the face of the Other“ (Emmanuel Lévinas)
As long as we refuse to look into the countenances of the victims, as long as we continually stare at the face of the murderer, we can’t begin to think about our own responsibility.
The people who were murdered on December 19, 2016 lived within a political and social context.
In that context they became victims. They were murdered because the killer was not stopped. But the bloodshed could have been prevented.
On October 27, 2015, the police were informed about the radicalization of the soon-to-be killer. Subsequently, he traveled unimpeded throughout Germany and was able to apply for asylum or social benefits under at least 14 different aliases. His contacts with the radical salafist scene were known.
Those who refuse to take social and political responsibility will try to avoid looking into the eyes of victims. Perhaps, that is the reason why the German victims remain faceless. German politicians avoid looking into their eyes because they know that they are not entirely innocent of the murders.
The killer was supported by our taxes. The authorities looked away and our politicians failed! Therefore, I agree with a visitor’s written petition at the memorial that Germany must assume responsibility:
„Give the victims a face and not the perpetrators!“