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The Mood In Germany Turns Tense After Recent Attacks


This violent summer is increasing anxiety in the country that has been the most welcoming to those fleeing war in Syria and elsewhere. Germany has seen a series of attacks, starting nine days ago with a young migrant wielding an axe on a train, an attack claimed by the Islamic State. To find out how this spate of violence is affecting the mood in Germany, we reached journalist Birgit Frank of Bavarian Broadcasting in Munich.

Good morning.

BIRGIT FRANK: Good morning.

MONTAGNE: Let's speak first about a teenager who attacked people on a train. And then, a week later, a suicide bomber struck a wine bar, you know, outside a music festival. Both of these were migrants. And no - they died, no one else died, but people were terribly injured. How are Germans reacting to those two attacks?

FRANK: Well, of course, people are shocked. So on the one hand, many people say, I don't want to change my life now because of that. But on the other hand, of course, many people are afraid now to go out and to go to music festivals, for instance, or go to, maybe, just the train. But on the other hand, one week later, after the attacks, people go to the Beer Garden in Munich. But of course, many people are afraid. And when you hear a surprising bang from somewhere of just a car or something, the atmosphere gets tense.

MONTAGNE: Right. In a way, though, with that massacre in Nice and with the attacks in Paris and also Brussels, were Germans holding their breath?

FRANK: Yes. Many Germans were afraid that something like the attacks this week will happen sometime. So it was not unexpected.

MONTAGNE: Are people starting to change their attitudes about migrants? Are they looking at Angela Merkel, the chancellor, and saying this was all a mistake?

FRANK: Well, we have big discussions here, now, right about that. It's - I think people who are now speaking up and say, oh, what about this migrant policy? I think they thought this way even before the attacks.

MONTAGNE: Chancellor Angela Merkel has been very careful to say all along, and there have been other incidents although no big attacks, that these migrants for the most part are all good people in desperate need. Has she changed her tone or her position recently in light of these attacks?

FRANK: Well, you can hear that the wording is different. Of course, she always refers to we - we have to, you know, we can't let anybody - everybody in. We can't say to everybody, OK, enter Germany. Of course, this is something she's saying now, but she's saying that for months. So it's just the changing of the atmosphere in politics because she knows she can't go on like she did in September. In September, she said, OK, we open the borders and the people - Syrians, mostly Syrians - can come and enter Germany.

MONTAGNE: Birgit Frank is a journalist based in Munich with Bavarian Broadcasting. Thank you much for joining us.

FRANK: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.