25 May 2006

Berlin behaviour

While in Berlin, getting off our tram near the hotel, we were suddenly surrounded by police cars, policeMEN (I didn't see any women!) and for every ten of them, one football fan... We asked about (German really is quite hard to forget, even though I hadn't really used it since high school) and found out Dynamo Berlin was meeting with Berlin Union at a stadium near our hotel. We're talking football, and not even top division. But a very emotional encounter, apparently! I have no idea who won, though...
The police cars numbered at least 50 - for once I'm not even exaggerating - and they kept coming. There were 5 or more policemen in each, getting out, putting on full riot gear - including body armour and guns (Norwegian policemen don't carry weapons, so we were slightly put off by this).

One of them was standing in the tram as we were getting off.
It was packed, and he was right in front of the door, looking as if he owned the world. As people tried getting off, he didn't budge an inch. We all sneaked (snuck?) past him. Now - imagine a British policeman doing something like that?? I mean, possibly even a Norwegian policeman would have gotten out to let us off before going back in himself. A British one would have apologised for being there in the first place... Whereas this German officer (and not old enough to be a leftover Stasi..) had us feeling we really ought to stay until he was ready to get off...

(Right: getting into riot gear.)

We vigilantly clad in grey so as not to be mistaken for fans of either team, and pussyfooted back to the tram station, and on to the Mitte district...

To be fair to the sour policeman - other Germans weren't really that much nicer! In service professions, no less; A couple of shop owners shouted at us to make us leave, and a waiter at a restaurant made remarks at us - for complaining about the appallingly stained tablecloth... (Yes, we left him.) Though the people at our hotel were nice, there was that little old lady on the tram, and several non-ethnic Germans that knew how to behave!

2 comments:

Riannan said...

Pretty alarming. You read about all the soccer-related violence in Britain, but I didn't know it was so bad in Germany (maybe it's not and this is prophylactic).

Merujo said...

I used to live right by a Tube station/train station in London, not far from one of the football arenas. One days where there were matches scheduled, there would be a heavy police presence at the station and, sometimes, large signs reading "MATCH TODAY - AVOID STATION - VIOLENCE EXPECTED"...

I found it so disturbing. Now, after 12 years in the Washington, DC area, nothing about violence surprises me anymore, sadly. :-(