Fear of Terrorism Puts the Dampers on Oktoberfest

All public gatherings in Germany are now considered likely targets for Islamic terrorists. The annual Oktoberfest in Munich is possibly the most well-known and iconic of German festivals, which makes it the favored goal for suicide bombers and “amok” killers. Security has been increased dramatically, but attendance at the festival has dropped by half.

It’s not mentioned in the news story below, but there are reports that sexual assaults have increased dramatically even as attendance has decreased.

Many thanks to Nash Montana for the translation, and to Vlad Tepes for the subtitling:


0:00   500,000 visitors: that sounds like a lot,
0:03   but normally twice as many people show up
0:06   on the opening ‘Wiesn’ weekend of the Oktoberfest.
0:09   Of course the bad weather is one explanation, but not the only one.
0:12   There is fear, after the terrorist attacks in Wurzburg and Ansbach,
0:15   and the amok shooter in Munich, many just don’t feel like partying,
0:18   especially not in the midst of huge crowds of people.
0:21   The Oktoberfest this year looks more like an October Fortress [Oktoberfestung],
0:24   with a complete fence, more police, and more surveillance cameras.
0:29   Anna Hinder, Hans Hinterberger and Anna Tillak went to the largest folk festival
0:33   in the world, during times of fears of terrorism:
0:39   Three seconds left until the beginning of ‘Wiesn’, three, two, one…
0:48   At first glance, business as usual.
0:51   But the largest folk festival worldwide has changed this year.
0:59   “…And this year with the terror… it’s extreme. I mean, usually in the early morning,
1:02   normally they break down our door!”
1:06   Normally, Hannes Dücker from the Society for Traditional Costumes of Bernried
1:09   attends the parade at Oktoberfest every year with his Costume members
1:12   and the miniature Bernried Church. But this year,
1:15   the members decided otherwise. They stayed home.
1:18   They were afraid of terrorism.
1:21   “We have the right to stay away from an event. And…
1:24   I am sorry, but now I am utilizing that right, as sad as it is.”
1:30   Here all the other societies that did decide to come are meeting.
1:34   Preparations start at 8 AM.
1:37   They all are anxious for it to begin; discussions prior to the event
1:40   are now forgotten. Almost.
1:44   “Fear is of course present here,
1:47   and we left it open to everyone whether or not to participate.”
1:50   “Of course we talked about it, but it was clear that we weren’t going to miss this.”
1:55   Then it starts. 9,000 traditional costume-wearing people from all over Europe
1:58   are parading through the Oktoberfest.
2:01   Two societies are missing.
2:04   The anxiety has started days prior to the event.
2:07   While the Bavaria statue stoically observes the preparations for the festival,
2:11   the city is arguing. About the new security fence.
2:15   For many Munich citizens the notion that the Folk Festival
2:18   now has to take place behind bars, is inconceivable.
2:21   “What do you think of the fence this year?” —“I could cry.”
2:24   “I am terribly afraid of a mass panic on the ‘Wiesn’,
2:27   and I just don’t know if all the people really…
2:30   will have the chance to leave the ‘Wiesn’…
2:33   I apologize, I am a little bit… I am emotional.”
2:39   Indeed, the Oktoberfest this year is surrounded completely by a fence.
2:43   A large part of the fence has always been there;
2:46   the new rollable fence now closes up the remaining 350 meters.
2:50   Whoever wants to get on the festival grounds
2:53   has to use one of these new entrances.
2:58   Eight AM, Oktoberfest day one.
3:01   The server Alex is more nervous than in the past.
3:04   Will the ‘Wiesn’ be safe? Some of her colleagues
3:07   cancelled their participation for this year.
3:10   “One didn’t want to come because she has two babies,
3:13   and of course she didn’t want anything to happen to her.”
3:17   These are her tables. Her goal: She wants to sell
3:20   400 mass per day. [Mass: German measure for beer, 1 mass = 1 liter]
3:23   This is the most important job in her life, for this she actually
3:26   travels to Germany from her new home in New Zealand.
3:29   Then it is nine AM. The doors are open.
3:32   And Security begins their operation.
3:35   Security staff has been increased this year.
3:38   They have to watch out especially for the bags people carry.
3:42   One of them is Manuel Groneck. He was a soldier in Afghanistan,
3:47   and he knows what terror really means.
3:50   For now, he remains poised.
3:53   “Where others panic, we have to remain cool,
3:56   we’ll have to… make sure we can get people out…”
4:00   During his walkabout through the tent Manuel watches out
4:03   for visitors who seem suspicious to him.
4:06   “When some guy is here alone,
4:09   and you can sense that he distances himself from the other people,
4:12   and he… maybe he even has a bag with him,
4:15   maybe packed something in that bag,
4:18   then indeed we will watch him and stay on him.”
4:22   Outside, 450 security people are protecting the entrances.
4:25   200 more than last year.
4:28   And — for the first time ever — there is a bag ban.
4:31   Everything that can carry more than three liters has to be left outside.
4:34   Additionally, identity checks and pat-downs.
4:40   Everything is directed from here, the ‘Wiesn’ police base on the grounds.
4:45   Police president Hubertus Andrä surveys the festival grounds with 29 cameras.
4:50   “This is totally empty.”
4:53   For the first ‘Wiesn’ Saturday it is almost eerily quiet.
4:59   “One can now see here that the concerns about the fence and panic
5:02   do not even play a realistic role
5:07   because we have that walkway there, the small hill,
5:10   there is enough room there…”
5:14   And what if something happens nonetheless? From the base he can
5:17   open the fence in 57 seconds.
5:20   ‘Wiesn’ and fear of terror. It has been a challenge for a long time.
5:24   In the year 1980, the right-wing extremist Gundolf Köhler killed 13 people.
5:33   In 2009 an Al Qaeda video surfaced, with a bomb threat against the Oktoberfest.
5:39   And still, the impressions of the amok shooting last summer are present as well.
5:47   At the beginning of ‘Wiesn’, Alex has other problems: making money.
5:50   She’s carrying out the first twelve liters of beer for this year.
5:54   And already the usual routine comes into action.
5:57   Fear of terror is fast forgotten here.
6:02   Oktoberfest, day two. Already at eleven AM the blood alcohol level is rising rapidly.
6:11   Nonetheless, sales have declined.
6:14   Alex has sold half as many beers as last year.
6:17   “Very quiet. Yesterday I was…
6:20   I don’t know if I’m allowed to say that now,
6:23   but I went home at nine PM.”
6:26   Many international guests have not shown up this year.
6:29   The publican feels disillusionment.
6:32   “For us this was one of the weakest Saturdays since…
6:35   since we have had this tent.
6:38   In 2001 it was similarly bad.
6:41   I just don’t believe that it’s just the weather that’s responsible for this.”
6:44   Evenings, it is quiet on the ‘Wiesn’.
6:47   The few guests this first weekend, half as many as last year,
6:50   they have the amusement rides to themselves.
6:53   Here, the opposite is true:
6:56   The security man Manuel is stressed.
6:59   But not because of the threat of terror: drunks are creating problems.
7:02   “No this hasn’t changed, I still have the same duties,
7:05   I kick out the same people…”
7:08   For Manuel the job this weekend is business as usual after all.
7:13   For Alex, it isn’t. Counting up after the end of duty.
7:16   “Looks meager again today.
7:19   This is the second bad day now.
7:22   By now I really do believe that a lot of people are afraid,
7:25   there is just no other possibility…” “Well… people all over the world have apparently noticed now
7:30   that terror has arrived in Germany as well.”
7:34   Maybe the anxiety of the people will dissipate soon, they hope.
7:37   Others have long ago quit thinking about it.

7 thoughts on “Fear of Terrorism Puts the Dampers on Oktoberfest

  1. I am so happy that our lords and masters have clearly informed us that we will not change as a people because of their policies.

    Happy days…

  2. Welcome to Israel’s reality that we have endured for nearly a century. Now you know who the real enemy is. Now you understand that we did not create this reality. If we all do not unite against this we are all lost.

    • No Yehuda, millions of people, and not just in Europe, STILL don’t know who the enemy is; in fact throughout the western world, a large percentage of people regard anyone who votes conservative/right-wing as the enemy.

      ‘Lefties’, be they Democrat, Labour, Liberal etc., have a lot to answer for–they are ruining our world as we know it. They are stupid, naive, uneducated, and certainly have no knowledge of history.

    • In the U.S. we have many festivals and fairs this time of year. Back in the summer we had a tomato festival, native American festival, watermelon festival, rattlesnake roundup, possum festival, etc. taking place in several small towns, county and state fairs nationwide in the fall. In early Nov. the county peanut festival. Anything can happen anywhere crowds gather. If you want to see the farm displays and animals, go early when it opens. Will be interesting to see how the October-fest turns out in Munich. I avoid crowds, parking hassles.

      • Wait until Obama and then Hillary bring in hundreds of thousands of UN-approved Muslim refugees. The US festivals will get progressively more secure.

  3. It’s not only terror keeping tourists away. This tourist, for one, has far better places to be than a scummy, smelly Europe with public transport that has now become the conveyance for Muslim criminals; where I could be arrested for my thoughts should they accidentally slip out; where the heightened “security” theatre inconveniences one at every [in]opportunity . . . and where the jumpiness has sucked the joy out of life.

    Did I mention the global economic malaise?

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