Hitler Exhibition in Berlin Asks: How Could It Happen?

A general view shows the location of an exhibition about German Nazi leader Adolf Hitler in a World War Two bunker in Berlin

More than 70 years after Adolf Hitler committed suicide in his Berlin bunker in the final days of World War Two, an exhibition in the capital examines how he became a Nazi and what turned ordinary Germans into murderers during the Third Reich.

For decades it was taboo in Germany to focus on Hitler, although that has begun to change with films such as the 2004 “Downfall”, chronicling the dictator’s last days, and an exhibition about him in 2010.

The exhibition “Hitler – how could it happen” is set in a bunker in Berlin that was used by civilians during World War Two bombing raids – close to the bunker where Hitler lived while Berlin was being bombed and which is not accessible to the public.

It examines Hitler’s life from his childhood in Austria and time as a painter to his experience as a soldier during World War One and his subsequent rise to power. Other exhibits focus on concentration camps, pogroms and the Holocaust that killed 6 million Jews.

It ends with a controversial reconstruction of the bunker room where Hitler killed himself on April 30, 1945 – replete with grandfather clock, floral sofa and an oxygen tank. The exhibit is behind glass and is monitored by camera, with visitors forbidden to take photographs.

Exhibition curator Wieland Giebel, 67, said he had been accused of “Hitler Disney” for putting the room on show. But he defended the decision, saying the exhibition focused on the crimes carried out by Hitler’s regime, adding: “This room is where the crimes ended, where everything ended, so that’s why we’re showing it.”

The exhibition, which features photographs, Hitler’s drawings, films portraying his marriage to longtime companion Eva Braun, and a model of Hitler’s bunker, has attracted around 20,000 visitors since opening two months ago.

Saudi FM Says Hopes Qatar Ends Support for Extremism

Berlin- Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir reaffirmed on Wednesday that the boycott by three GCC states against Qatar is a punitive step in an effort to stop its support for extremism.

Speaking in a Berlin joint press conference with German FM Sigmar Gabriel, the top diplomat also said efforts would be made to resolve the conflict within the Gulf Cooperation Council.

“We see Qatar as a brother state, as a partner,” he told reporters. “But you have to be able to tell your friend or your brother when they are doing the right thing and when they are doing the wrong thing.”

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain are among seven states that have cut diplomatic ties and many major transport links with Qatar.

Jubeir said that “for many years Qatar has taken steps to support certain organizations”.

“This has been condemned in the past, but unfortunately we have not received appropriate cooperation on this and that’s why these measures have now been taken.”

He added that “we have taken these steps in the interest of Qatar… and in the interest of security and stability in the region”.

“And we hope that our brother Qatar will now take the right steps in order to end this crisis.”

Jubeir stated on Wednesday there was no specific trigger for the decision to cut ties with Qatar, but said there was a long list of grievances.

It’s Nearly Impossible to Stop Terrorists from Using Trucks as Weapons

terrorists

Nice, Berlin, London and now Stockholm. Over the past year, terrorist attacks using vehicles have become a sad fact of life in Europe. Such attacks are obviously appealing to would-be mass murderers: In most European nations, a truck is far easier to acquire than a firearm or explosives, and sometimes even deadlier. Groups such as ISIS and al-Qaeda have taken note, specifically suggesting that a car could be a good weapon to harm civilians.

For authorities, the attacks represent a major problem. Guns and explosives can be banned, but motor vehicles are vital for many city-dwellers. So how do you protect a city from an attack like this? There is one commonly used solution, but it’s far from perfect.

Since the 1990s, many cities in North America and Europe have been installing physical obstacles designed to stop vehicles driving close to the site of a likely terror target. These measures actually predated the rise of the modern vehicle attack — instead, they were largely designed to tackle car bombs, like those used to attack U.S. embassies in East Africa in 1998.

When they were first installed in Washington, they were often crude: huge concrete blocks known as “jersey barriers” placed around monuments and government buildings. They served a purpose but didn’t look great. As the headline on a story by Benjamin Forgey, The Washington Post’s architecture critic at the time, put it in 1998, “Does safe have to mean ugly?”

Since then, a number of developments have made these obstacles more subtle. Permanent protective bollards, sleeker in design, are believed to have prevented a number of terrorist attacks: One example is the 2007 Glasgow Airport attack, where a car filled with propane canisters was blocked from driving into the terminal by bollards, likely preventing serious injury to civilians.

In the United States, crash- and attack-resistant bollards are now installed outside “military and governmental buildings and domestic structures and areas of higher security levels,” according to the National Institute of Building Sciences. Similar measures are taken in countries like Britain, where many bollards and barriers are designed to stop a seven-ton truck traveling at 50 mph.

The design of these obstacles is often thoughtfully integrated into their environment. These days, they are often disguised as flower pots, decorative walls or even sculptures — the artful bronze bollards outside New York City’s Financial District are an obvious example. Bollards that slide into the ground, hidden from view until needed, are also common. The aim is to provide security without making a city feel like a fortress.

However, while these obstacles have proliferated outside government buildings and other high-profile areas, they have left other areas exposed.

Jon Coaffee, a professor of Urban Geography at the University of Warwick in England who studies the impact of terrorism on urban areas, says that in U.S. cities like Boston, he can easily see where “so-called hostile vehicle mitigation measures” had been installed. “Equally there are many potential targets that are undefended,” Coaffee wrote in an email. “The key question raised by the Stockholm incident, as was raised recently in London, is can we or should we seek to secure all crowded locations in a city?”

Groups such as ISIS have exploited this, encouraging attacks on so-called “soft targets” that are at best weakly protected. The attack in Nice, France, took place upon a beachfront promenade; in Berlin, it was a Christmas Market; in Stockholm, a shopping center. Even in the London attack, which targeted the (well-protected) center of Britain’s political world at Westminster Palace, most of the carnage took place on the adjacent bridge.

The abundance of soft targets means that protecting them all is difficult, if not impossible. After the attack in Germany, Berlin Police Chief Klaus Kandt told reporters that bollards and other obstacles could not completely prevent an attack. “There are an almost unlimited number of soft targets, that’s simply the fact, so there are many possibilities to kill people with a truck,” he said.

However, the Berlin attack highlighted another way legislation may help. The 40-ton Scania PRT truck used in the attack is thought to have deployed its brakes when the attack occurred, thanks to an advanced emergency braking system now mandated by the European Union on heavier trucks. German government officials have said that the technology may have “saved lives,” Süddeutsche Zeitung reported in December.

The Washington Post

German Police Shut Down Berlin Mosque ‘Fussilet 33’

Mosque

Cologne, Germany – Two months after Berlin’s Christmas market terror attack, the German authorities decided to shut down the mosque which the Tunisian attacker Anis Amri used to visit frequently. German State Interior Minister Andreas Geisel said that the “Fussilet 33” mosque in the central district of Moabit was a “hub” for terrorists.

“There is no place for terrorism in Berlin”, the minister added in a press conference held following the anti-terrorism police raids.

In an official statement, Berlin Police announced that about 450 officers – supported by counter-terrorism cells – raided 24 locations in Berlin on Tuesday. Among the properties searched were office spaces, flats, and six cells in two prisons. Raids also covered two other locations in Brandenburg and Hamburg.

Opposition parties in the German parliament defamed the show-off security raids that was not concluded with any arrests despite being supported by a huge number of policemen.

The Fussilet 33 mosque association was shut under a decision issued by the Berlin Administrative Court, in light of a report released by the capitals’ general prosecution.

The decision stipulates to confiscate the association’s possessions and called banks to provide the general prosecution with the required data on Fussilet’s financial activities of the past six months. The State Interior Minister considered this ban a success for the anti-terrorism campaign in the country and further announced more austere procedures against similar associations in Berlin.

Geisel said that authorities have tracked down other extremists who have the same goals and stated that many of Fussilet’s administrative officials reside now in German prisons after being accused of supporting terrorism. The minister said that this ban was applied after the completion of all required legal procedures.

The Fussilet 33 mosque was already raided twice, after being accused of lodging terrorists, securing funds for terrorist groups, and recruiting members to fight in Syria and Iraq.

Terrorist Anis Amri, 24, fled to Italy via Netherlands where he was shot by an Italian policeman in one of Milano’s train stations.

A terrorism expert in Radio Berlin and Brandenburg revealed that some data revealed speeches calling for the participation in terrorist fights and for the killing of non-believers. Police also found videos praising operations conducted by ISIS.

The wide-spread Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper reported that Bavarian Ministry of Interior prepared a series of new counter-terrorism laws and regulations. It is also planning to expand judicial jurisdictions, so judges can imprison dangerous members for unlimited periods. According to these changes, judges shall respond swiftly to police requests concerning the precautionary jail of suspects.

The newspaper stated that the Interior Ministry has overstepped the law of electronic surveillance – it has also sought to overstep the German law which permits the precautionary arrest for few days only.

However, some German officials have warned from the concept of unlimited arrest, which contradicts with laws of the German constitution, and from the wrong exploitation of this concept to serve private purposes with no terrorist links.

Berlin Mosque ‘Fussilet 33’ Shuts Down

Picture shows the building with the Fussilet 33 mosque in Berlin Moabit, Germany

Cologne- Days after a German ministry of interior official announced issuing a closing order against the Fussilet 33 by the end of February, those responsible for the Mosque decided to shut down the place of worship once and for all.

German dailies published footage showing the mosque’s premise under lockdown, with a poster reading that the place has been shut for good.

It is worth noting that the mosque is being shut down by the decision of the owners and funders, despite authorities still working on piecing in together the evidence sufficient to ban the mosque officially.

A local German broadcaster was the first to circulate the news of shutting down Fussilet 33, broadcasting that the front door plate with the Mosque’s name has been removed.

Fussilet 33 is subject to tight security surveillance since 2015 on charges of inciting hatred and links between those attending the mosque and terror acts.

The mosque was placed under mass scrutiny after Anis Amri, 24, who is a concurrent visitor to Fussilet 33, staged the unspeakable terrorist attack on December 19.

Amri, who killed 12 people and injured more than 50 others when he drove his truck into a crowded Christmas market on December 19, was often filmed visiting the mosque, including the day of the attack.

Berlin authorities have been debating a possible ban of Fussilet 33 since 2015.

Berlin police spokesman Winfried Wenzel said officials were taking note of the decision of no longer using the building.

‘Of more importance to the Berlin police is the question where potential perpetrators may turn to next,’ he said.

Extradited Tunisian Admits Links to Berlin Attacker

Tunis- A Tunisian man, who was extradited by Germany to Tunisia, has admitted to having links with the slain suspect of the deadly Christmas market attack in Berlin.

Anis Amri rammed a truck into the crowded market in Berlin on December 19, killing 12 people, before being shot dead four days later by police in Italy.

But the extradited 36-year-old, whose identity was not revealed, denied that he was aware about Amri’s plots and that he belonged to Abu al-Barra terrorist group.

The organization is active in Germany and has around 20 members, including Tunisians.

Tunisian prosecution spokesman Sofiene Sliti said that the authorities in Tunis put the extradited man in jail on Wednesday and opened a judicial investigation over his ties with Amri, who also belonged to Abu al-Barra group.

Sliti revealed that the Tunisian authorities are also investigating the suspect’s ties with the 2015 terrorist attack on the Bardo Museum in Tunis that left 21 foreign tourists and a police officer dead.

In Germany, the Tunisian national is suspected of being a recruiter for ISIS and building a network of supporters to carry out an attack in the country, Alexander Badle, a spokesman for the Frankfurt prosecutor’s office said this week.

The suspect arrived in Germany as an asylum seeker in August 2015, the prosecutors said, after already living in the country for a decade some years earlier.

He was arrested the following August on an outstanding 2008 conviction for causing bodily harm.

After serving a 43-day sentence, he was kept in detention awaiting deportation to Tunisia before the authorities were forced to release him again.

“As the Tunisian authorities, despite repeated reminders from the German authorities, failed to supply the necessary deportation documents within the 40-day period, the suspect was released on November 4, 2016,” the statement said.

He was kept under surveillance from the day of his release until his arrest last Wednesday, it added.

Obama Hoped to Transform the World. It Transformed Him.

Obama

When Barack Obama entered office, the hopes that he raised in his own country were exceeded only by the hopes he raised abroad. Mr. Obama tapped into those hopes with his inspirational rhetoric about a “transformational” presidency, and his promises were scarcely less dramatic. America would be steered back on track, working with other countries to meet the challenges of what he often called an “interdependent” world, from terrorism and poverty to financial crisis and global warming.

Rapturous crowds thrilled to his speech in Berlin in 2008, a few months before he was elected; less than a year into his presidency, the jury in Oslo awarded him a Nobel Peace Prize for his “vision” of a world without nuclear weapons, as if he were a poet rather than a head of state. Expectations ran so high that few spotted the contradictions in Mr. Obama’s project, which sought to usher America into an era of relative decline and yet still somehow achieve transformative results. Being commander in chief prevented Mr. Obama from speaking frankly about the growing constraints on American power. But no one would experience them more sharply — or more frustratingly.

This was, in part, the legacy handed down to him by George W. Bush’s truly transformational presidency, which envisioned a post-Cold War order of limitless American power. Mr. Bush created a new reality in the Middle East and trapped Mr. Obama in a war he had opposed in Iraq, and one that couldn’t be won in Afghanistan. Though he sought to reduce America’s footprint, Mr. Obama would distinguish himself as an even more zealous hunter of terrorists than Mr. Bush, presenting the assassination of Osama bin Laden as a centerpiece of his re-election campaign, even as he made no secret of seeing terrorism as an exaggerated threat. Extraordinary measures were required to begin undoing the extraordinarily destructive Bush legacy, but Mr. Obama proved mostly incapable of them. He did not transform the world; the world transformed him.

Eight years ago, Mr. Obama suggested a messenger from a dreamy, multicultural future: the son of a Kenyan father and a white American mother; a well-traveled cosmopolitan who had spent much of his childhood in Indonesia, seemingly at home wherever he planted his feet. His vision of international diplomacy stressed the virtues of candid dialogue, mutual respect and bridge building. His famous address to the Islamic world, given at Cairo University in 2009, was a judicious balance sheet of past wrongs and an eloquent plea to turn a new page in history.

“Real power,” the president told Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic last year, “means you can get what you want without having to exert violence.” Exhibit A, in the Obama years, was the Iran deal, which not only peacefully prevented Tehran from developing a nuclear weapon, but also brought about a thaw in Iran’s relations with the West.

But that deal, along with a climate change agreement and a rapprochement with Cuba, was a rare success. The arc of recent history has not bent toward Mr. Obama’s cosmopolitan vision of an interdependent world. On the contrary, the world — and America itself — is increasingly bedeviled by the tribalism that horrified him on a visit to his relatives in Kenya. In “Dreams From My Father,” he writes of arriving with “simple formulas for Third World solidarity,” only to discover that most Kenyans “worked with older maps of identity, more ancient loyalties,” and that his liberal humanism fell on deaf ears.

Before the invasion of Iraq, Sunni and Shiite Muslims lived side by side, and often intermarried, under authoritarian states and a regional balance of power that provided stability, if not democracy. Mr. Bush put an end to that fragile balance. Iraq was liberated from Saddam Hussein, but the result was sectarian warfare.

The Arab Spring stirred hopes of reversing this bleak trend, and Mr. Obama initially gambled on its success, defying old allies like Saudi Arabia, expressing support for pro-democracy movements in Egypt and Tunisia.

In these revolts, he saw an opportunity not only to improve America’s image in the Middle East but also to end the Muslim world’s isolation. From the ruins of the Arab revolts a new age would emerge, but its key players would be tribally minded strongmen and armed militants.

In a speech to the Turkish Parliament in 2009, Mr. Obama promised that “America’s relationship with the Muslim community, the Muslim world cannot, and will not, just be based on opposition to terrorism.” Yet that is precisely what happened, even if the “war on terror” was decorously renamed the “fight to counter violent extremism.”

The war was based on Special Operations and drone strikes rather than torture and ground invasions, but it, too, was subject to few restraints, and eventually it came to cover a much greater land mass. Styling himself as an anti-terrorist commander, Mr. Obama buried the legalistic multilateralism that he had taught at Harvard. While the drone program began under Mr. Bush, Mr. Obama substantially expanded it. Armed with a “kill list” and the Predator joystick, he could eliminate America’s enemies, while avoiding land wars — or public scrutiny.

Mr. Bush’s occupations provoked liberal outrage; Mr. Obama’s drone war emitted a kind of white noise that most Americans ignored, and did little to win local hearts and minds. In fact, his determination to avoid American casualties, even as he expanded the battlefield, reinforced the impression that for all his talk of cooperation and partnership, he was a pitiless realist.

The New York Times

Number of Migrants who Left Germany Voluntarily Rises Sharply in 2016

Refugees

Almost 55,000 migrants who were refused – or were not eligible – for asylum left Germany willingly between January and November 2016, up by 20,000 from the total number who left voluntarily in 2015, a newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Germany had tough stance on immigration in the past period triggered by worries about security and integration after admitting more than 1.1 million migrants from the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere since early 2015.

Last week a failed asylum seeker who had sworn allegiance to the ISIS militant group killed 12 people when he attacked a Christmas market in Berlin with a truck, stimulating increasing criticism of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s immigration policy.

The Sueddeutsche Zeitung quoted government data showing the number who returned to their homes in the first 11 months of the year. Most returned to Albania, Serbia, Iraq, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iran, according to the newspaper.
Those leaving are eligible for one-off support of up to 3,000 euros.

The number of refugees turned away at the borders has also increased; a report by the Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung daily said police had turned back 19,720 refugees through the first 11 months — up from 8,913 in all of 2015.

They had been registered in other EU countries, where most were from Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and Nigeria.

Merkel has said it is vital to focus resources on those fleeing war, and to keep public support by deporting foreigners to countries where there is no persecution.

Late on Tuesday, seven refugees from Syria and Iraq aged 15 to 21 were detained in Berlin on charges of attempted murder for trying to set fire to a homeless man in an underground station.

Surveillance Footage Confirms Berlin Attacker Transited France

Surveillance footage confirms that Anis Amri, the suspected Berlin truck attacker gunned down by Italian police, transited through the French city of Lyon by train, a source close to the investigation said, AFP reported.

“A man corresponding to the killer was spotted on the afternoon of Thursday, December 22, on a platform at the (Lyon-Part-Dieu) station wearing a cap and backpack,” the source said, confirming media reports. “He appears alone in these images.”

The source said investigators are still trying to determine how 24-year-old Amri, suspected of using a hijacked truck to mow down 12 people at a Christmas market in Berlin a week ago, was able to leave the German capital to reach France and then Italy.

Amri was the focus of a four-day Europe-wide manhunt before being shot dead by police in Milan after firing at officers.

The Berlin rampage was claimed by terror group ISIS, which released a video on Friday in which Amri is shown pledging allegiance to ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

German authorities are probing whether Amri had help before or after the attack. Hundreds of investigators are set to work on the case throughout the holiday season.

Italy: Berlin Attack Suspect Killed

Berlin

Rome, Berlin- Anis Amri, the lead suspect in the attack on a Berlin Christmas market, has been shot, according to the Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti. “The man killed was without a shadow of doubt Anis Amri,” Minniti said in a news conference.

Minniti told reporters that Amri was stopped by two policemen at around 3 a.m. (2:00 GMT) in front of the Sesto San Giovanni train station, north of Milan. When he was asked for his identification papers, Amri pulled a gun and shot one of the two policemen — he in turn was then shot dead by the police.

German Federal Prosecutor Peter Frank later on Friday confirmed that the person shot dead by Italian police was Amri. He said that investigations would, however, continue in a bid to identify any person who might have helped Amri.

At a news conference on Friday afternoon, German Chancellor Angela Merkel assured that the direct threat is now over but the terrorist threat is still there.

Earlier, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere also hailed the actions of the two Italian police officers and expressed his relief that Amri no longer posed a danger.

Besides, a video of Amri pledging allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been published by Amaq news agency. In it, Amri calls for ISIS supporters to take revenge against crusaders bombing Muslims.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack — a security source reported to Amaq that Berlin attack executor is an ISIS member and has conducted the attack as a response to calls for targeting international coalition countries, knowing that Germany is part of this coalition, led by U.S. against ISIS.