Bureaucracy doing what it does best.
From News.com.au: Those whose sons, daughters and loved ones were killed by a terrorist plunging a hijacked truck through a Christmas market in 2016 thought at the very least they’d get a letter of condolence from their leader.
Instead, almost a year after the Berlin Christmas market terror attack, relatives of the 12 Germans killed in the attack have received bills for identifying the dead bodies and threats to call the debt collectors in.
They received limited compensation and not an official word, or letter of condolence, from German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Merkel failed them, say the grieving relatives of the 12, who have vented their anger in a withering letter accusing the Chancellor of “political inaction” and of failing to reach out to the bereaved.
“Almost a year after the attack, we note that you have not shared your condolences with us either in person or in writing. In our opinion, this means that you are not doing justice to your office,” read the letter, published by weekly magazine Der Spiegel on Friday.
“In failing to do so, we believe, you are failing to live up to your high office … It is a question of respect, decency and, finally, a matter of course that you as the head of government should acknowledge to us the loss of our family members through an act of terror.”
Among those venting their anger, frustration and grief are Sigrid and Hans-Georg Rheinsberg. Their daughter, Doris, was killed in the attack by a jihadist asylum-seeker Anis Amri.
The only official communication they’ve had is an invoice from the forensic medicine department demanding €51 ($80) for identifying the body of their daughter. And a very official warning that if they didn’t pay it in 30 days, a debt collector would be hired.
Hans-Georg Rheinsberg told the magazine: “Ms. Merkel embraced the refugees, but she left us out in the cold.”
The letter says the bereaved were neglected by their government after the attack.
Accusing the Chancellor of “failing to live up” to the responsibility of her office, it notes how she and other dignitaries attended a rushed mass at the Memorial Church, a Berlin landmark in the heart of the Christmas market, while relatives of the victims were desperately struggling to find out whether their loved ones were among the casualties. Some waited for days to be informed.
The letter contrasts how other nations dealt with the five foreign dead: the Italian President attended the transfer of the remains of one of the victims; the Polish president knelt in front of the coffin of the truck driver murdered by Amri. Israel, home to another victim, passed a law giving financial support to families of terror targets overseas.
Meanwhile, the injured German survivors of the attack are also angry: while the killer received state support, some of the 70 injured have not yet been compensated for massive medical bills.
The German government has so far paid out $1.9 million to those wounded in the attack and to the victims’ families, according to the justice ministry.
Merkel’s office reacted swiftly to the public damnation, her spokesman saying on Monday she will this month hold her first face-to-face meeting with relatives on December 189 — one day before the anniversary of the attack.
Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said Merkel will listen to their grievances and see “which lessons can be learned” at the December 18 meeting.
He claimed the meeting was scheduled before the open letter was sent, nevertheless, “the letter shows how useful and urgent this meeting is”, Seibert said.
The letter had harsh words for the security “failings” that allowed Amri, a failed asylum seeker from Tunisia, to carry out the attack, the deadliest yet in Germany to be claimed by the Islamic State group.
Authorities missed a number of opportunities to arrest and deport the known drug dealer with connections to radical Islamists, who escaped detection by skipping across German state lines and using different identities.
On the day of the attack, he hijacked a truck and murdered its Polish driver before ploughing the vehicle through the market on his deadly drive. He was shot and killed four days later by Italian police in Milan.
The annual Christmas market at Berlin’s Breitscheidplatz reopened last week with new security measures in place, including concrete barriers and a heightened police presence.