A shooting near a Halle synagogue on 9 October was a stark reminder that terrorism is still a concern in Germany and that far-right extremism is on the increase. It came just one day after a truck attack in Limburg which is being investigated as terrorism, but in this case the suspect may be an Isis affiliate..
As we approach the festive season, many of us are planning visits to Europe’s much-loved Christmas markets – and Germany is a top destination for those. As we’ve mentioned in the past, we don’t believe in staying home in fear, but we do believe it’s important to be informed and protect our holiday with the appropriate travel insurance, including the option to cancel* or curtail** a trip.
Let’s take a look at the latest safety information to help you make informed travel decisions.
What’s the official stance?
The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises that, “Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Germany. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in public places visited by foreigners.” However it also notes that around 2 million Brits visit Germany every year, and most visits are problem-free.
The FCO has added the 9 October Halle attack to its list of attacks, which also includes the December 2016 truck attack on a Berlin Christmas market, which killed 12 people and injured dozens more.
The FCO notes that there is a threat of terrorism from Daesh/Isis as well as far-right groups, and says, “The German authorities have successfully disrupted planned attacks and made a number of arrests.”
The US Department of State also advises increased caution due to terrorism.
Terrorism has been on the radar in Germany for many years – a 2011 report by West Point’s Combating Terrorism Centre noted that Germany was increasingly a centre for terrorism in Europe.
In June 2019, Germany’s foreign minister admitted that “Germany has a terrorism problem,” and called for protests against right-wing terrorism
Make Every Journey Safer
Vigilance is important no matter where we go these days; likewise reporting any suspicious items or activity.
If you are planning to visit a Christmas market or other large outdoor event, do your research before you go:
- Is the area closed to vehicles?
- Are there planned security checks?
- Where are the entrances and exits? Know where these are before you go.
- Purchase tickets in advance if you can, to avoid queuing outside the venue.
- Avoid the most crowded periods – rather go early when it’s easier to move about.
- Find out where security and first aid can be found before you go.
- Report any suspicious items or activity immediately.
- Take note of “barriers” on your way to the event/market, such as concrete art or benches on the pavement, that can protect against vehicle attacks. Walk behind these where possible.
- Arrange a plan with friends/family in case you are separated – have a set meeting point and plan so you don’t have to search for each other in a huge crowd.
- If there is an emergency situation, remember to “Run, Hide, Tell”
- Run: Get as far away as you can, if it is safe to do so. Do not stop to take photos or videos!
- Hide: Find a secure place to hide, and lock yourself in if you can.
- Tell: Call police or security when you can do so without endangering yourself.
We hope your winter travels will be trouble-free and filled with festive cheer, but please plan ahead, keep track of all the relevant information, and be prepared - not scared.
*Safe Journey gives you the option to cancel if there’s an act of terrorism within 40 miles of your destination, up to 6 weeks before you depart. Please read our Policy Wording for full Ts+Cs and exclusions.
**Safe Journey also covers curtailment if there’s an act of terrorism anywhere within 40 miles of your accommodation while you’re travelling – and emergency temporary accommodation if it’s within 1 mile. Please read our Policy Wording for full Ts+Cs and exclusions.
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