International fight club?
GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — German police want the U.S. military here to extend off-post patrols to the nearby town of Weiden in an effort to cut down on fighting between soldiers and Russian immigrants.
The 2nd Cavalry (Stryker) Regiment started uniformed courtesy patrols in Vilseck in November last year after a series of alleged off-post assaults including a brawl in Amberg involving U.S. soldiers armed with retractable clubs that put three Germans in a hospital.
Weiden police chief Klaus Sennert said Tuesday that he’d like to see uniformed U.S. patrols in his town to cut violence involving soldiers. He said it’s common for German police to send as many as seven cars and 14 officers to deal with fighting between Americans and Russians outside the Super Sonic nightclub in Weiden on Friday and Saturday nights.
German police have responded to 50 fights at Super Sonic in the past six months with about 20 of the fights involving Americans, Sennert estimated.
“It is soldiers against soldiers and soldiers against Russians,” he said, adding that Super Sonic is popular with both U.S. personnel and Russian immigrants. The nightclub, which stays open to between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m., offers a “10 drinks for 10 euros” special on weekends, he said.
So far the owner of the nightclub has not been helpful and the police are looking at whether they can legally force the club to close, he said.
Sennert said U.S. soldiers who are approached by police in Weiden are often abusive, but usually aren’t arrested.
“Normally a third soldier says he will take care of them and they go to the railway station and ride back to Vilseck on the train at 5 a.m.,” he said.
Sennert said the Russians involved in the fighting are descended from ethnic Germans who went to Russia many years ago and were sent to Kazakhstan after World War II.
“Russians who can show their ancestors came from Germany can come here. Five hundred thousand have come in the last 10 to 15 years. Most are like you and me but their children come with drug problems from Russia,” he said. “They are very dangerous and rough fighters. They have also hurt German police officers. When we know Russians are involved in a conflict we go with two to three patrol cars and six officers.”
In a recent incident a Russian grabbed a police officer’s gun and fired shots inside the Weiden police station before he was subdued, Sennert said.
Alexander Korpmacher, a mechanic-electrician who left Siberia for Germany four years ago and now works in Eschenbach, a few miles up the road from Grafenwöhr, said there are no bad feelings between Russians and Americans in the area.
“[The fighting] is just some stupid young people getting into a fight,” he said. “The Russians and the Americans have the same attitude, and people like that tend to fight.”
Korpmacher said most young Russian immigrants in Germany are quiet and friendly, but some unemployed young people get aggressive when they drink.
Eschenbach police chief Josef Kraus said Tuesday there were several fights involving Americans and Russians in Grafenwöhr last year but the town has been quiet so far this year. Kraus said he expected to employ three more police officers to deal with a large influx of U.S. troops to Grafenwöhr this year.
Hans Peter Klinger of the Amberg police said Wednesday there had been no problems with violence involving U.S. soldiers in Amberg this year.
Robert Ray, USAG Grafenwöhr’s director for emergency services, reported only two documented incidents in the Weiden-Super Sonic area, according to a statement from the 7th Army Joint Multinational Training Command.
The first was Dec. 17, when a soldier from 529th Ordinance Company was charged with conduct unbecoming a member of the military, the statement said. The second was Dec. 30, when a soldier from 2nd SCR, the 2nd Cavalry (Stryker) Regiment, was charged with simple assault, the statement said.