Breitscheidplatz Christmas Market Attack Memorial 2016

December 2016 – The Breitscheidplatz Christmas Market in Berlin – Memorial Scenes



The 2016 Christmas season in Germany and Berlin was far from normal. On Monday, 19 December 2016 at 8:02 p.m. Berlin time, a dispicable act of terrorism targeted a key element of the German Christmas celebration: Christmas markets. Twelve people died, including a Polish truck driver, and 56 more were injured when a Tunisian man deliberately drove a hijacked 32-ton semi-trailer onto the square and into the Christmas market on Breitscheidplatz in the heart of western Berlin, in what is known as City West.

The most significant landmark on Breitscheid Square is the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church (Gedächtniskirche), a semi-ruin from World War II that was intentionally left standing as a warning against war. The original Protestant church was built in the 1890s. A new, smaller, octagonal church, designed by architect Egon Eiermann, was completed in 1963, along with the preservation of the damaged original church spire. A new hexagonal shaped 75-feet-high tower was also part of the project.

Memorial Church Berlin

Breitscheidplatz in September 2016, where the Christmas market was later located in December, grouped around the old and new church structures. The street sign at right shows Budapester Straße (left) and Hardenbergstraße (right), the two streets that the attacker drove down in his attack. In this photo perspective, the truck drove from right to left, stopping near the new church (with 21,292 blue stained-glass inlays) on Budapester Straße. On the other side of the square, behind the church, is the famous Kurfürstendamm boulevard. (Click on the photo for a larger view.) PHOTO: Hyde Flippo

The so-called Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the attack, and released a video of Anis Amri pledging allegiance to the terror group’s leader. Hours before his attack, in the process of taking over the truck, Amri had shot and killed the Polish driver, Łukasz Robert Urban. An automatic braking system in the truck is believed to have prevented a worse catastrophe, halting the truck after it had struck several Christmas market stalls, but before it could inflict more damage. As a result, the truck only traveled a distance of about 160 feet through the market before coming to a stop.

After a brief mourning period, the Breitscheidplatz Christmas market reopened on Thursday, 21 December, with new concrete barriers installed along its perimeter. The attack site soon became a place of public mourning and commemoration for Berliners and visitors from all over the world.

Click on any photo for a larger view.

Breitscheidplatz Photo 1

Breitscheidplatz aerial view

An aerial view of the Breitscheidplatz Christmas market after it reopened. The attacker drove the truck roughly along the stretch marked by the string of white lights, stopping left of the new church (blue). Budapester Straße is on the left.
PHOTO: Andrea Goldmann

Breitscheidplatz Photo 2

Sign - memorial

Located by an improvised memorial, this German sign says: “This remains in our memory, but you cannot intimidate us with your terror.” PHOTO: Andrea Goldmann

Breitscheidplatz Photo 3

Breitscheidplatz memorial

Candles, flowers, signs and artifacts mark a memorial to the attack victims. Attached to the cross is a photo of the Polish truck driver who was also a terror victim, along with signs in German and Polish saying: “In silent memory.” PHOTO: Andrea Goldmann

Breitscheidplatz Photo 4

Market lights

Lights hang above the Christmas market stalls. In the background we see the new church (blue) and the spire of the Memorial Church behind it.
PHOTO: Andrea Goldmann

Breitscheidplatz Photo 5

Breitscheidplatz from above

Another aerial view of the Breitscheidplatz Christmas market surrounding the old and new churches. PHOTO: Andrea Goldmann

Breitscheidplatz Photo 6

Impromptu memorial

Another impromptu memorial on Breitscheidplatz – with a photo of the attacker’s first victim, the Polish truck driver. PHOTO: Andrea Goldmann

Our thanks to Berlin resident Andrea Goldmann for allowing us to share her photos on this page.

Also see our feature Christmas Customs in Austria, Germany and Switzerland and our Berlin City Guide.

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