Security measures heightened at Christmas markets in Germany
By MARCUS KLOECKNER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 27, 2017
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Police are boosting security at Germany’s famed Christmas markets, including those in cities with large populations of U.S. military personnel and their families.
The efforts come in the wake of attacks by Islamic State sympathizers and other extremists at various cities in Europe this year. Focus on security at Christmas markets sharpened in 2016, following an attack in Berlin that left 12 people dead.
Video surveillance, increased police presence and other measures will be in place for the downtown market in Kaiserslautern, city police spokeswoman Christiane Lautenschlaeger said Monday. About 50,000 U.S. personnel and their families live in the area, making it the largest overseas U.S. military community.
The market, which includes food, crafts and entertainment, opened Monday and will continue through Dec. 23.
Security will be focused on both preventing terror attacks and petty crimes, such as pickpocketing, Lautenschlaeger said. Police will also check drivers in the area for alcohol impairment, she said.
U.S. military police will patrol alongside their German counterparts, an Air Force spokeswoman said.
In Stuttgart, home to U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command, a large Christmas market will operate over several city streets from Nov. 29 to Dec. 23. Major streets leading to the market will be blocked, police spokesman Jens Lauer said.
“There will be an increased number of police officers at the Christmas market as well as in the city’s center,” Lauer said.
Stuttgart has already held multiple festivals this year where it has used roadblocks and police armed with machine guns for protection, Lauer said.
Wiesbaden, home of U.S. Army Europe headquarters, will follow similar procedures at its market, which runs from Nov. 28 to Dec. 23.
There is no such thing as total protection from a terrorist attack, “but we do our best to prevent it from happening,” Wiesbaden police spokesman Markus Hoffmann said.
Stars and Stripes reporter Will Morris contributed to this report.