Berlin's Breitscheidplatz market, the scene of last year's attack, opened this week. What the city authorities did for perimeter security was underwhelming, to say the least.
They put up nothing but precast concrete highway dividers, and didn't even connect them together or attach them to the street or sidewalk surface to make them more resistant to the impact of a truck or car.
I'm astonished that Berlin would use such weak barriers, especially after recent testing carried out by news media in Germany showed how they are nearly useless against the kind of attack that happened last year.
“Researchers drove a 10-tonne truck into the barriers at 30mph and found the 2.5 tonne concrete blocks were simply pushed aside by the power of the vehicle, which only came to a halt when it hit a wall.”Very strange.
Well, if they won’t use more effective barriers, can’t they at least make them decorative? On that score the city of Bochum outclassed everyone with its gift-wrapped car barricades.
Bochum authorities placed a string of 1.2 ton pellet bags in the downtown area to avert potential terror attacks ahead of the seasonal opening of the local Christmas market.
On Thursday morning, however, the bags took on a holiday look, with the city's official marketing service turning them into novelty Christmas presents.
"For us it was very important to fit in those ugly barriers into the beautiful overall atmosphere," said the head of Bochum Marketing Mario Schiefelbein.
The move surprised both local residents and the police, as the service reportedly giftwrapped up all of the 20 bags overnight without forewarning.
Bochum is not the only city to put a bow on new security measures. In the Bavarian city of Augsburg, for example, authorities will use decorated trucks belonging to Christmas market stall owners as car barriers. Munich officials plan to block the streets with planters containing season-appropriate evergreen plants.
Visitors to Bochum's market who were interviewed last Friday seemed to like gift-wrapped security. Typical comments: “We think it’s a pity that it must be done across the entire [Christmas market] area, but it is good that it is done” and the barriers convey "a feeling of safety, and if there are some [barriers] packed like presents, [when] there is no police presence, then that seems good to me.”
The city authorities must be pleased with that reaction. However, of course, we can't see what kind of barricade they have inside the wrapping so it could be as weak as Berlin's, for all we know.
Not all German cities are as interested as Bochum in the aesthetics of security. Dresden used extremely non-decorative concrete blocks.
Those concrete blocks are just flat-out ugly, while also being as weak as Berlin's highway dividers.
Essen also used plain grey raw concrete blocks, only ones a bit larger than Dresden's.
In Essen's case the city leased the barriers for 30 days, so I guess they didn't want to pay more to put lipstick on those pigs.
Vienna went with gift-wrapped barricades.
Those are nice like Bochum's Christmas presents. But guess what we see if we peek under the wrapping?
The exact same grey raw concrete blocks that Essen used! In fact, it seems to be a double stack of them, based on the height of the wrapped packages.
Hey, Essen, see what you could have had with just a little bit of DIY?
Next Monday we'll look at Christmas market security in the United Kingdom.