According to schleswig-holstein’s interior minister hans-joachim grote (CDU), german cities should also use clever urban planning to contain terror risks.
"At least since breitscheidplatz, everyone knows that public festivals are endangered by a new kind of weapon, by the car, by the truck," the chairman of the conference of interior ministers told the german press agency. The towns should therefore be motivated to secure their squares – "with a town wall or a town rampart, perhaps also with the type of building around the square," says grote.
The rough municipal associations think little of his idea, bavaria’s construction minister hans reichhart (CSU) even called it "scaremongering. "We can’t wall up our squares and surround ourselves with a wall again like in the middle ages – that absolutely does not correspond to our liberal ideals of public space," reichhart told the german press agency in munich. The police take care of security.
In december 2016, islamist anis amri drove a truck into the christmas market on berlin’s breitscheidplatz and killed twelve people. There were also attacks with cars against people in nice, london and barcelona.
"This is not a seasonal occurrence," said grote. "As sad as it is, we have to close ourselves off a bit."
Cities, counties and municipalities rejected his proposal. "We should not let the terrorist threat determine the design of our cities," said the president of the german city council, markus lewe, to the deutsche presse-agentur. Towns and squares had to remain accessible to people as places where they could live and work together, emphasized the mayor of munster.
The president of the district council, reinhard sager, also warned against "stonewalling" the city. The image of possible new city walls is completely skewed. "We are an open society that meets openly in towns and villages," he said. "We cannot imagine isolation here."As a consequence, it was necessary to carry out entry controls at weekly and flea markets, for example, in order to eliminate the danger of assassins with explosive belts.
A few hundred years ago, access to these central locations was not as easy as it is today, grote emphasized. "There were only a few narrow alleys."He criticized that in some places town festivals had to be cancelled because the security requirements were unaffordable.
"Especially in smaller cities, solid objects are now supposedly protected by mull wagons, by trucks loaded with sand. But this no longer does justice to the place and the character of the festival," said the CDU politician. Even high-maintenance, retractable bollards are not a permanent solution. "As macabre as it sounds, we are no longer dealing with robber barons, but with people who have much worse intentions," he said.
The german association of cities and municipalities stressed that there can be no absolute security. "The construction of new city walls or city halls can therefore not be a real solution to the threats posed by terrorist attacks, especially since these projects were difficult in terms of urban planning and could only be implemented in the very long term."The cities were already reacting to the changed danger situation and the fears of the citizens – they urgently needed stronger support from the federal and state governments.