Everything changes for Michael Kyrath on January 25th. On that Wednesday at the beginning of 2023 he lost his daughter. Forever. 17-year-old Ann-Marie is stabbed to death by Ibrahim A. on the regional express 11223 from Kiel to Hamburg. The act in Brokstedt in Schleswig-Holstein caused horror across the country. Around three months after the violent death of his daughter, Michael Kyrath speaks for the first time on "stern TV am Sonntag" about the moment and the time after - it is a moving performance in the studio with presenter Mareile Höppner (you can see the full program here at RTL).
Outwardly composed, Kyrath describes the hours of futile fear for his daughter's life after the 17-year-old didn't come home from school in the afternoon as usual. "We tried to reach her on her cell phone." But nobody answered. "We then heard from friends that there had been an attack on the train in Brokstedt." For Kyrath, the signal to drive the 35-kilometer journey from Elmshorn at home to the crime scene in order to get information there. "Where I was then told that unfortunately one of the victims was my daughter."
Ann-Marie fell in love with him on January 25th, she has been with Danny P. for just five days, sitting with him on the regional train. The 19-year-old railroad trainee was also stabbed to death by Ibrahim K. in the double-decker wagon. Five other people are injured in the knife attack before passengers can overpower the perpetrator and hand him over to the police.
"The first feeling is actually like falling backwards into a ravine and actually waiting for the hard impact to come at some point," Kyrath describes the time after the news of death. "It takes a long time. At some point you realize what happened, that your own child will not come back." What you're denied as a parent, maybe the wedding, or grandchildren.
Würzburg, Dresden, Illerkirchberg. The knife attack in the Schleswig-Holstein province is part of a whole series of similar attacks in Germany in recent years. Again and again people die, relatives and friends lose their loved ones. They too are victims of such acts. "Our lives are destroyed," says Kyrath.
And again and again, alleged failure of the authorities and the possibly too lax handling of violent criminals play a role in deadly knife attacks. Ibrahim K. came to Germany as a refugee from the Gaza Strip in 2014 and committed his first criminal offense shortly after his arrival. There are a total of 24 investigations and criminal proceedings in North Rhine-Westphalia alone, and he has been convicted three times, including for dangerous bodily harm. There are also threats or attacks with knives in Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg. A. is sentenced again in the Hanseatic city to one year and one week in prison. But the convicted person appeals and the verdict does not become final. A. therefore remains in custody. There is evidence of drug use and mental health issues. On January 19, 2023, A. is released from custody - he has served almost the entire sentence - and returns to Kiel. There he boards the regional express 11223 at the main station on January 25 at 2:25 p.m. 29 minutes later, the 33-year-old refugee becomes a double murderer.
"A lot went wrong there, on the part of the judiciary, the authorities responsible for it. Something like this shouldn't actually happen," Kyrath accuses. In Germany you have to document everything at work "and in such a case people stand up and say: 'We are not responsible for it, but that went wrong now.' These are things that shouldn't happen in this country. And that has to be dealt with." The father of the deceased is feeling sobering. "These are the same answers that we've been hearing not just since the crime that affected us, but for years. We discuss, we talk, we plan, we talk about it - action? I haven't seen it yet."
With this attitude he is not alone, says Kyrath. He is in contact with a number of relatives of those killed in acts of violence. The discussions that have been repeated for years and the way some politicians deal with such acts are "a slap in the face for us as parents and also for all other parents and survivors". It is time to act and not to talk. Kyrath calls for a comprehensive review of how the authorities are dealing with Ibrahim A. – which is also why he is going on television.
It is not yet clear when Ibrahim A. will appear in court for the double murder in the Regional Express. Michael Kyrath cannot imagine looking the murderer of his daughter in the eye in the courtroom and may want to stay away from the trial. "It is important that the judiciary takes full action and that there are no more excuses (...) It is a double murder and it must be punished accordingly."
At home in Elmshorn, a lifeless children's room awaits Michael Kyrath. The family left it the way Ann-Marie set it up. That helps with the grief, says the father. But he misses "her lightness, her cheerfulness, her willingness to help other people". Forever.