New Year’s excesses, migration problems, election chaos: Berlin’s governing mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD) is stricken. Critics accuse her of denial of reality and whitewashing. FOCUS online confronted the boss of the breakdown capital.

After the New Year’s excesses, Berlin’s governing mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD) reacted quickly. She hurriedly convened a “summit against youth violence”, announced a multi-million dollar package for youth social work and demanded harsh punishment of the perpetrators from the judiciary. She wanted to show: I’ll take care of myself, I’ll tackle!

But Giffey’s lively actionism should be treated with caution. There is an election campaign in Berlin, and the former Federal Minister for Family Affairs (she resigned in May 2021 because of the plagiarism scandal surrounding her doctoral thesis) is under pressure. And everyone knows that the night of the riot was only an expression of years of neglect on the part of the politicians responsible.

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Police officers, public prosecutors, judges, teachers, parents and journalists have repeatedly pointed out the glaring undesirable developments in Berlin. They have urgently warned Giffey and her comrades who have been in power since 2001 of conditions as they set out on New Year’s Eve – once again. Little has happened. Too little, as you now saw again.

FOCUS online sent Franziska Giffey a catalog of questions that we are publishing here. Instead of specifically addressing the individual points, the social democrat made a longer statement. In it, she rejects criticism of her actions and justifies her policies. Here are the questions for Berlin’s Governing Mayor:

To those specific questions, Giffey responded as follows:

“The violent attacks by young people and young adults on the police and fire brigade were not expected by the emergency and rescue services in this intensity and brutality and have not yet been experienced. That’s what I’ve been told in several conversations. That’s why I spoke of a caesura. Nevertheless, the phenomenon of youth violence and attacks on rescue workers are not new – neither in Berlin nor in other places in the Federal Republic.

Read here: From “southerners” to “dominant culture” – 29 pages contain what the Berlin police should no longer say in the future

Giffey on FOCUS online: “The reasons for this are very complex: a lack of a sense of belonging to German society, a rejection to the point of contempt for the state and its representatives, a general lack of respect, but also a lack of prospects. That’s why the crimes also occur in a special way in the country’s social hotspots.”

Giffey rejects the accusation that she has done nothing or too little about the problems that have been known for many years: “Ever since I was responsible in Neukölln, I have always clearly named these phenomena, because the cloak of silence does not help either victims or perpetrators to cover over it. My attitude was and is: We must counteract these acts with very clear, consistent juvenile criminal proceedings. But also by working on the causes, with youth social work, with parental work and school social work: with an outstretched hand and a stop signal, so to speak.”

The SPD politician points out that there are already “many offers for young people in all Berlin districts, especially in the social hotspots – in youth and school social work, in parent work and in neighborhood management.” The police are also there with their “very valuable prevention work” an indispensable part in the fight against youth violence, according to Giffey. “The summit against youth violence showed that we must and will expand these measures and offers.”

Giffey went on to say that in her view “existing rules must be enforced” and punishment for those who commit violence will follow. “To ensure that, we also need to invest in law enforcement agencies. The aim must be the comprehensive and consistent use of the Neukölln model of the former Berlin youth judge Kirsten Heisig, which provides for the legal possibilities to speed up proceedings and the necessary close cooperation between the public prosecutor’s office, the police and the courts.

The Berlin city manager: “In order to create capacities for this, we will invest – in youth work on site, but also in the increase in staff in the police, public prosecutor’s office and juvenile courts.”

FOCUS online also asked Giffey:

Giffey’s spokeswoman Lisa Frerichs commented on this. She stated verbatim:

“Berlin has developed very well since German reunification, for example in economic terms. In 2022, Berlin had economic growth of 2.5 percent, well above the national average. Tourism, gastronomy, culture and congress industry have recovered very well. New companies and jobs have emerged, many creative minds come here. This can be determined without ignoring any grievances and undesirable developments.”

Another question from FOCUS online was:

Giffey spokeswoman Frerichs explained:

“The Governing Mayor has repeatedly emphasized that the mistakes made before her term in office in the 2021 elections, which led to the decision of the State Constitutional Court to repeat the election, are shameful and hurt her deeply. The Berlin Senate, the districts and the new state returning officer are doing everything to ensure that the re-election in February runs smoothly.”

Surf tip: Official statistics – Germany: Number of foreigners and people with a migration background