Attacks in Cologne

Not much is known about the attackers and politicians are stressing that no connection has been made to refugees. However, this is a new kind of attack that involved up to 1000 North African/Middle Eastern men in Cologne, so it’s not difficult to imagine the conclusions that many people will come to (or the concerns about women’s safety in the future, especially if police are unable to make arrests or control the situation during other events like the Carnival). This post isn’t an attempt to demonise refugees, but it seems like this is a defining moment in the narrative where authorities have to prove that society is capable of keeping people safe as well as welcoming refugees and integrating them into society - and it will have an effect on the wider debate in Germany and other countries.


It should be pointed out that this has been handled quite well on the whole by different politicians - rather than dismissing it, making excuses or coming to premature conclusions, the attacks are being taken seriously as a criminal matter and questions are being asked, e.g. about the role of the police on the night. On the other hand, this wasn’t in the news until after the story got bigger on social media. The police didn’t give details of the appearance of the attackers despite plenty of CCTV footage either. The (female) mayor of Cologne (who recently survived a knife attack) has also been one of the politicians to come under fire for suggesting that women could stay more than an arm’s length away from strangers:

Official statistics claim that sexual attacks are no more frequent among refugees than the general population, but people are starting to doubt that claim and some have accused the police of covering crimes up. My wife was actually physically assaulted by a refugee patient a year and a half ago (which isn’t that unusual in general, admittedly), but her complaint went nowhere because the patient had come from a difficult background etc. While dismissing false accusations and stigma is important, it’s also important for the right wing not to be seen as the only one willing to report when the truth does not support a pro-immigration narrative.

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You’ll notice they didn’t pick on other men, just women. That seems to be a pretty constant problem in the world, no matter the skin color.


This is true(ish), and I’m not trying to make out that men from a particular region of the world are uniquely evil. However, this was a large scale and seemingly coordinated attack that is unprecedented here, but not in places like Egypt. Women here are statistically much safer than in North Africa (or America) and so the problem is hardly constant (i.e. with little regional difference).

In any case, my point is that ignoring known problems when they arise is counterproductive and plays into the right wing’s hands. Treating it seriously as a criminal matter rather than suppressing it due to the race or religion of the perpetrators goes some way towards preventing this from becoming about the race or religion of the perpetrators.


Oh, I hear you! It made me think of the problems in India, actually. It doesn’t surprise me that Germany would have an appropriate response to such a paradigm shift in violent crime. Can’t imagine the U.S. reacting the same way, at all.



I might just be reacting to the current spate of video-driven US police conduct investigations and/or an impression of europe flavored more heavily by British CCTV mania than other areas; but what I find very odd about this story is how sparse/absent pictures and video seem to be despite the availability of enough victim testimony to make it virtually certain that a great deal of something happened; and a police action to clear the area not long before.

The various news writeups are all either stock shots of Cologne-at-night or of the various officials commenting on the matter; and even the frothing xenophobes, for which this must just be like Christmas, don’t seem to be circulating anything(though I’m no expert on the web presence of the contemporary German far right, so maybe I’m just not looking hard enough). I don’t doubt that it happened, far too many similar reports for that to be plausible; but I’m just amazed at the idea that at least several hundred coordinated attackers, in a public location that had recently attracted police attention, during a holiday, appear to have generated so little in the way of photo/video(and, despite the mounting pressure, so few publicly reported suspects and arrests).


This is getting some ridicule on German social media:

(Proposal: Men must stay at least an arm’s length away from women, unless the women explicitly state otherwise.)

(You can stop anything with an arm’s length)


Did the mayor completely miss the ‘hundreds of coordinated attackers executing well choreographed group assaults’ bit?

Even if you were going to double down on the try-not-acting-slutty-if-you-don’t-want-to-be-harassed nonsense, surely the apparent existence of causality in our universe would suggest that the coordinated gangs must have existed before you stood too close to them?

It’s also strikingly tone deaf for someone who probably doesn’t think that she got stabbed because she failed to stand at least an arm’s length from a disgruntled potential voter. You’d think that personal experience with violent crime might have had some effect.


The subtext to the calls by the politicians not to link these men to refugees is one of the more frustrating elements - there doesn’t seem to be much information on who these people were at all and it’s quite possible that nobody will be brought to account. In any case, whether they are refugees or not seems like a distinction without a difference as far as the far right are concerned. Are they refugees, which means that we’ve been too accepting and Europe must close its borders now to stop more of these people from coming, or are they second generation migrants, which shows that multiculturalism doesn’t work and we can’t trust these people however long they stay? White female victims of brown men are very helpful tools in support of racial hatred, even when they are unwilling to be put in that role. And once again, innocent refugees will be the ones who suffer.

Why does it seem hard for me to find citizen social media pictures of this? Is there a German hashtag?

The vague references(when they aren’t busy admitting that they really don’t have any idea) to the notion that some of the suspects were ‘known to the police’ in relation to repeated prior pickpocketing(though with no mention of sexual assault as a distraction measure in the prior cases) don’t help matters.

Pickpocketing is hardly the direst of crimes, certainly more polite than the good, old fashioned, mugging; but 'Oh, yeah, we think we might have heard of those guys because we’ve been fecklessly playing catch-and-release with them for a while now while completely misjudging their potential to ramp up the menace significantly" does not inspire confidence in the capacity of the region to economically and socially integrate the economically and socially dislocated, whether economic migrants, refugees, political asylum seekers, whatever.

(It’s particularly tricky because it looks bad whether you think that the problem should be tackled with more carrot or more stick, or some combination: Even the most benevolent and philanthropic observer would say that a nontrivial population of criminal pickpockets is a sign of inadequate access to formal employment/job skills training/education/etc. while the less warmhearted would state more or less bluntly that the supply of criminality has clearly outstripped the ability and/or willingness of security forces to suppress it and maintain order.)

This is the thing I don’t get either. This area was already known for pickpockets and people might not want to bring out their phones if they felt they could lose them, but the lack of video at this point along with the fact that the police had been right there and initially said that the atmosphere had been peaceful makes it sound a lot more subtle than the accounts suggest. The video I do see keeps cutting away from the crowd to show fireworks being shot into the air, which doesn’t suggest that the focus was on recording criminal activity. I did see one video where it looked like fireworks were being shot horizontally, but that could have been an accident and the crowd isn’t panicking.

There were a number of reports in Hamburg too and quite a few arrests have already been made. Again though, I don’t see any footage, which is surprising on NYE when lots of people would have had cameras or at least smartphones. Part of the problem is that the attacks were reported in multiple police stations and they didn’t have the full picture on the night, but with the sheer number of attacks, why didn’t the police who were already there notice that something was happening?

There is a laudable effort to integrate refugees, but the sheer number of people coming and the fact that many don’t speak German, let alone have German qualifications at first makes it difficult to give them work. They have been working at simplifying some apprenticeships to make it easier for refugees to successfully take them, but this has had limited success so far. The refugee who is living with us has an apprenticeship, but he has been here for a few years now and is better placed to take advantage of what the system offers.

As I mentioned earlier, the statistics show that Syrians and other North Africans/Middle Easterners are not the ones causing a lot of the crime - this is more the case with Eastern Europeans who sometimes cross the border with the intent and tools to commit crime. Sex crimes are not a large proportion of the whole, in any case. However, the lack of transparency here supports many people’s suspicion that crimes are not being reported for political reasons.

Yeah. A hundred or more millenials having a street party on New Year’s Eve, you’d think there’d be some perps in the background of some selfies at least.


I am not sure what all those comments on the lack of footage are supposed to insinuate.

There is footage, but what is publically available seems to be pretty crap. But then again it was a huge crowd in the middle of the night. There is also official railway surveillance footage, but publishing that would most likely require approval by a judge.

And from the reports from the night, including the leaked police report, we know that there was a lot of theft going on and there was intimidation of people who turned to the police. Both of those may have discouraged more open filming.

So essentially the initial claim by the police that there was a peaceful atmosphere wasn’t just a mistaken assessment, it was a conscious fabrication? Or maybe they were taking about different times in the evening?

So you’re saying this Cologne story doesn’t pass the sniff test?


From the report it is clear that it was obvious to the officers on the scene that it was extraordinary, but I am not so sure you have to attribute to malice what can be explained by bureaucratic fuck up.

New Year’s Eve is always a very busy night for the emergency services. So “peaceful” always had to be understood in context, i.e. as “still more crime than normal”. Then the operation involved two or three police forces from two jurisdictions, depending on how you count, and went on until the morning. In addition to that most police reports weren’t filed until a few days later and the majority only after the story had blown up in the media. Also many of the early police reports were centered around the thefts.

So I think it is at least possible that what the police acknowledged and apologized for is true, i.e. that the full magnitude of the events didn’t filter through the system until relatively late. Of course that would not exactly be great either, but it could explain how someone who likely did not have any first-hand knowledge might end up typing generic press release that turns out to be rather embarrassing in retrospect.

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Fair enough, although the leaked report looks so different from the statement that it would have to have been made by someone completely out of the loop. It looks like Hamburg was also quite badly affected - the number of women who have come forward has risen to 70 and they’re talking about increasing surveillance during busy times.

I hadn’t seen the news about the police report yet - it seems to highly suggest that asylum seekers were involved:

Ministers have said there is no evidence asylum seekers were involved in the violence.
But the leaked police report, published in Bild newspaper and Spiegel, a news magazine, claims that one of those involved told officers: “I am Syrian. You have to treat me kindly. Mrs Merkel invited me.”

Another tore up his residence permit before the eyes of police, and told them: “You can’t do anything to me, I can get a new one tomorrow.”

A local newspaper reported that fifteen asylum-seekers from Syria and Afghanistan were briefly held by police on New Year’s Eve in connection with the sex attacks but were released.

The Express newspaper quoted an unnamed police officer who said his squad had detained several people who had “only been in Germany for a few weeks”.

“Of these people, 14 were from Syria and one was from Afghanistan. That’s the truth. Although it hurts,” he said.

This will really test the resolve of the German people to continue supporting refugees, although it’s good that the protests against sexism have specifically expressed their refusal to give in to xenophobia or stereotype refugees based on these incidents.

It sounds extrodinary

Swarms of nonwhite “refugee” invaders have engaged in mass sex attacks in Hamburg and Stuttgart over New Year’s Eve, it has emerged, reinforcing a pattern set by the 1000-strong attack mob in Cologne.

It’s not an insinuation, it’s a straight-up question: Where are the first-person accounts? Why can’t I find tweets or instagrams from the night?

I’m not seeing any contemporaneous tweets of horror under [#nye] +[#koln OR #koeln or #cologne]

The first mention I can find is from Jan 2, and is a news article of from a site I am unfamiliar with, from an appearant anon who has a clear history of islamophobia and racism long before NYE. Google translates suggest the attackers numbered in the 30s.

The earliest video I can find is this ambiguous vine posted Jan 4 of what looks like men shooting each other with roman candles, which sounds like what a lot of drunks do.

NB: that poster identifies himself as “Unrepentant member of /pol/gemenschaft.” So it’s clear that 4chan is already involved.

This “race realist” then posts a Brietbart article claiming 1,000 attackers.

And, a brand-new account is now claiming 2,000 attackers.

Here’s a graphic shot of a woman getting beaten by middle-eastern looking men, but TinEye shows the picture was on the web long before NYE.

I scrolled through every tweet mentioning #koln going back to Dec 30, and there’s no mention of these attacks until Jan 2. Not one pic, not one video, not one “omg watch out if you are in the neighborhood” not one “oh I got beat last night.”

There is this pro-PEGIDA piece published on 12/31, talking about how German Police were under orders to cover-up invader crime, but this seems to be published BEFORE the attacks. Curiously, none of the comments on that article say “OMG DID YOU HEAR WHAT JUST HAPPENED?” That site didn’t pick up the story about mass sex attacks until Jan 3.

Obviously, there are a lot of bad actors looking to politicize whatever happened and foment anti-islamic and anti-immigrant sentiment, and now that 4-chan is involved, there are a lot of fake pictures adding noise. But for how horrible the accounts are, and the sheer number of reported perpetrators, I can’t wrap my head around why I can’t find first person accounts. Perhaps it’s out there but I can’t find it with my English words, which is why I asked the good Germans I know around here if there was a hashtag or something.

I did find this nice Hamburg on Instagram twitter bot, though. So I know at least some of you all use cell phones, hash-tags, instagram, and twitter. :slight_smile: