Racism and misanthropy don’t stop at children in Munich. On the contrary. These are increasingly becoming the target of right-wing attacks. The figures from the Munich counseling center “Before” speak a frightening language: 24 children up to the age of twelve sought advice and help last year after becoming victims of right-wing violence in Munich. Plus 28 teenagers and young adults. Most attacks took place in public spaces – and in the living environment.
Before consultant Anja Spiegler points out that the attackers’ inhibitions have dropped significantly. While attacks on parents who were traveling with their children or on smaller children themselves used to be rare, experts can now often observe the opposite: children are the target of attacks. “Being on public transport with a stroller or small children makes it almost impossible for those affected to escape a threatening situation,” says Spiegler. It is all the more important that witnesses intervene and stand by those affected, emphasizes the executive Before board member Siegfried Benker. You don’t have to be a hero – but it is important to make yourself available to the police as a witness, for example.
Attacks on mothers with children
The federal police recently reported such an attack on a mother and child on Whit Saturday. A 50-year-old racially insulted a 31-year-old woman and her nine-year-old son on the S-Bahn. When another woman intervenes, the man first leaves – only to come back shortly afterwards and satisfy himself in front of the 31-year-old and her boy.
In October last year, the Munich group “Grannies against the Right” reported on an incident at Munich Central Station: a black woman with a pram was met with wild racist abuse by a man. When one of the grandmothers intervenes so that the woman and her child can safely take the escalator and he cannot follow her any further, the helper is bumped into and insulted. “You should be beheaded,” the man yelled, the victim reported on Twitter. “No one stands by me. Nobody else opposes him,” she writes. Her conclusion: “Courage: no fun in Germany.”
15 percent increase in consultation cases
In total, Before supported those affected by right-wing, group-related misanthropic violence and discrimination in 359 counseling cases in 2022. This number shows: “Exclusion and attacks are also a big problem in Munich.” The city is by no means an “island of the blessed,” says Benker. The number of consulting cases at Before increased by around 15 percent in 2022 compared to the previous year. In total, the facility’s employees accompanied 465 people from Munich seeking advice, more than ever before in one year.
On two occasions, counseling had to be stopped for other people seeking help. “We’ve reached our limits,” says Benker. The increasing number of counseling cases and the high number of unreported cases would actually require additional staff. In 149 counseling cases, racism was the motive. 33 of these attacks were directed against black people – also a sharp increase compared to previous years.
While most cases of discrimination (58) took place in the workplace, most right-wing acts of violence (82) occur in public spaces. In second place in the before statistics, however, is the “crime scene” living environment. Victims were insulted, threatened or attacked by neighbors. People who are exposed to attacks in their private lives are “trapped in a situation that is extremely stressful and sometimes dangerous for them,” emphasize the experts. Rather than being protected in their private space, they are subject to stalkers, threats and attacks, fearing daily confrontation and fearing for their safety and that of their families.
When racism is played down as a “neighborhood dispute”.
There is often a veritable reversal of guilt: it is not the racist attacks that are discussed, but the alleged misconduct of those affected. “Unfortunately, landlords and property managers often play down these attacks and deny their group-related misanthropic background,” the Before experts state. Then such attacks would be presented as “neighborhood conflicts”. Before therefore appeals to housing associations and landlord associations to establish contact points for those affected. According to Spiegler, the municipal housing cooperative Gewofag has such an ombudsman, with which one has had very good experiences.
Attacks on children also take place in residential complexes and on playgrounds. For affected families, landlords, property managers and authorities must “provide urgent support and work quickly on solutions,” says Before consultant Anja Spiegler. “Families stop using games in residential complexes and are forced to withdraw completely,” says Spiegler.
When those affected come to their counseling, they often already have a long ordeal behind them. The children would have developed anxiety and sleep disorders, the parents would try to suppress the racist insults – and sometimes even attacks such as targeted property damage. “I tried to ignore it,” says Spiegler, who repeatedly hears this sentence from those affected by racist attacks in their living environment. Siegfried Benker appealed to Munich’s urban society: “We mustn’t get used to that!”