Peaceful celebrations in small circles, violent fireworks in squares and streets and also aggressive throwing of firecrackers and firing at other people - New Year's Eve in Berlin once again revealed all aspects of the big city. The police reported 230 preliminary arrests so far around 2 a.m.
At least 15 police officers were injured. A spokeswoman said that firecrackers and rockets were fired at the police and fire brigade and also by people among themselves from time to time throughout the city. However, there were no particular local focuses. "Various attacks with pyro, blank shot
Police: 99.9 percent of people celebrate peacefully
Berlin's Interior Senator Iris Spranger (SPD) and Police President Barbara Slowik emphasized early in the evening that the majority of Berliners were celebrating peacefully, and that this applied to "99.9 percent of the people" in the city. Before New Year's Eve, the police repeatedly stated that unfortunately not every riot could be prevented with fireworks in such a large city.
Near Alexanderplatz, large groups totaling around 500 people fired New Year's Eve rockets at each other hours before midnight. Police officers dispersed the group and controlled it, it was said on the Internet portal X (formerly Twitter). The police were shot at with rockets or other pyrotechnics from a group of 200 people nearby.
Attacks on police
In Neukölln, suspects were caught who had made Molotov cocktails. The police reported that cars were also shot at several times, including police and emergency vehicles. "In Hermannstrasse, people are shooting rockets at our emergency services." In the Gropiusstadt district, a parked police vehicle was badly damaged by the explosion of a bullet bomb.
A total of almost 5,000 police officers were on duty that night to prevent similar riots and riots as last year: 3,500 police officers from several federal states were on duty on the streets. Especially in New Year's Eve hot spots in previous years in Neukölln, Mitte and Schöneberg, the police were visibly positioned on the streets. There were also 1,000 police officers in patrol cars and stations as well as 500 federal police officers in and at the train stations. That was the largest police presence on New Year's Eve in Berlin.
On New Year's Eve 2022/2023 there were riots and attacks on police officers and rescue workers across the country; Berlin was particularly affected. This year, the police were additionally concerned about the Gaza war following the terrorist attack on Israel by the Islamist Hamas and the heated mood among parts of the Arab population in some parts of the city.
A pro-Palestinian demonstration late in the evening was therefore banned. Around 2,000 people took part in a demonstration in the afternoon. In the evening, the announced firecracker ban zone was set up in Sonnenallee. Despite a ban on a demonstration by Palestinian groups about the war in Gaza, people gathered before midnight and police intervened and prevented a larger gathering.
Wegner: Night of repression, if necessary
Berlin's Governing Mayor Kai Wegner (CDU) announced earlier in the evening that the police would take tough action against riots and riots. A lot has been done in the area of prevention in the last few months, said Wegner during a visit to a police station in Neukölln. "And today is the night, if it is necessary, the night of repression where the constitutional state will try to assert itself. And I am also sure that it will prevail."
Thousands of people celebrated at the traditional New Year's Eve party at the Brandenburg Gate, accompanied by high security precautions. According to the organizers, 45,000 tickets had been sold by early evening and the party was designed for up to 65,000 people. The stage show was broadcast live on ZDF. For the first time since the corona pandemic there were fireworks.
Eleven Molotov cocktails, nine arrests
Nine suspects were arrested in Neukölln because of the homemade Molotov cocktails. “They filled gasoline into glass bottles and were inserting scraps of fabric as fuses when they were discovered by our emergency services in Neukölln,” the police wrote. They also had grill lighters with them. Eleven Molotov cocktails were seized. The police were initially unable to say whether they were politically motivated extremists.
In Sonnenallee - previously one of the New Year's Eve hotspots for dangerous illegal firecrackers - things initially remained quiet because of the firecracker ban zone imposed by the police. Walkways were cordoned off with bars for several hundred meters and traffic was stopped. The police illuminated intersections with searchlight towers. All people who wanted to enter the prohibited zone had to show their bags at entrances. Long lines formed and some people protested.
Man loses hand due to exploding rocket
During the course of the day, people injured themselves with fireworks and had to be treated, the police said. A 40-year-old man lost a hand due to an illegal signal rocket in the Kaulsdorf district. Immediately after ignition, the rocket exploded in his hand.
As on every New Year's Eve, the fire department reported numerous fires that were extinguished. There was a fire on a 15th floor and then also on the balconies on the 16th and 17th floors in a high-rise building in Prenzlauer Berg. In another house fire in the same district, an unconscious person was rescued and a cat died. New Year's Eve is the busiest night of the year for the fire department with hundreds of rescue and firefighting missions. More than 1,500 paramedics and firefighters were on duty with 421 vehicles.