Neighboured occurences


News of the incident arrived through the Internet. On Saturday afternoon someone had rammed his car into pedestrians in Bismarkplatz, a square two hundred meters from our apartment. Three people were injured. The attacker was pursued by the police and shot near the Alte Hallenbad on Bergheimerstr.

We were home, but heard nothing.  A friend sent an SMS asking if we were alright. My wife posted the news on Facebook.

Earlier in the afternoon, as we walked on the Hauptstrasse, she’d observed how common it was these days to see a car on the pedestrian zone; these folks probably lived here, but vehicle access must be restricted, she said. After the incident, she recalled this conversation. People driving on the Hauptstrasse had begun to worry her of late, and now there was an event involving pedestrians on a square nearby.

Around dinnertime the Hauptstrasse carried the usual Saturday evening buzz. There were no signs of change.

Next morning, under a grey sky, I walked to the Grimminger bakery on Bismarkplatz. The car had run into the pedestrians right in front of this bakery. Two tulips and a candle lay beside a pillar nearby, circumscribed by yellow etchings on the floor that revealed where the attacker’s car had stopped. Not far from it a cameraman readied himself while a young blonde in a dark coat waited with a yellow mike.


The bakery girls were chirpy. I paid for two rosinenbrötchen and a croissant before turning back. On the way home I ran into our neighbours M and A and their two boys. Smiles and greetings followed. I told them about the flowers and the cameraman on the square. M asked if I knew what had happened to the injured. No idea, I said. The smiles had vanished, eclipsed by murmurs of concern, but they flashed back as we said goodbye.

That evening I learned that one of the three injured, a 73-year-old German man, had died. The accused was a 35-year-old German man, now recovering from the gunshot wounds. His motives were unclear. Terrorism was not suspected.



2 thoughts on “Neighboured occurences

  1. Thanks for this sobering perspective.
    When I was a student in Heidelberg in the late 1970s, the RAF/Baader Meinhof Gang was active all over the country. Sometimes, we heard rumors of one or two of them dancing at a student party in one of the occupied houses in Untere Strasse and we would kick ourselves for having missed it.
    One night, cycling home through the Hauptstrasse on my dilapidated bicycle, proudly wearing my hippie outfit and my general ignorance, an elderly gent knocked my off my bike, cursing and telling me ‘ihr drecksgesindel, geht doch rüber wenn es euch nicht gefällt’ (you dirty trash, go to the GDR if you don’t like it here).
    In the summer of 1978, an otherwise pretty dull young student who lived three dorrs down from me, blew himself up while making a letter bomb which he intended to send to the Argentinian embassy during the football world cut as an ill advised sign of protest against the Argentine junta and so on. He survived, lost one hand. That night all houses along that street (most of which were occupied by students) were thoroughly searched by police and of course, we were outraged.
    Bless our innocence. I wonder what these events would have resulted in with the social media frenzy of today.

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