Germany after the market attack: ‘free, together, and open’

Ordinary people in Germany and elsewhere are rejecting the temptation of hate and fear.

Hannibal Hanschke/Reuteres
Berliners and refugees gather together in front of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin Dec. 21 after a truck plowed through a crowd at the Christmas market Dec. 19.

Messages of solidarity from political leaders around the globe have flooded Germany in the two days since a probable act of terror killed at least 12 people and injured scores of others at an outdoor Christmas market in Berlin. “In the fight against all those who ... threaten our societies, we stand at the side of Berlin,” said a White House National Security Council spokesman in a statement.

The search for the driver of a large truck filled with steel beams that slammed into a crowd of holiday shoppers now includes a €100,000 ($104,000) reward for information on his whereabouts. The Islamic State group has claimed it is behind the tragic attack although at this writing its involvement has not been confirmed.

Beyond the official condolences have come touching responses from ordinary people. In Berlin, hundreds gathered to say the Lord’s Prayer together. One Tunisian student in the German capital, the same nationality as a suspect wanted by German police, wrote “There is no path to peace – peace itself is the path” on a scrap of paper that he added it to a growing memorial of flowers and candles. “I came back here today to show that everyone needs to fight for peace together, both Muslims and Christians,” he told Britain’s Telegraph newspaper.  

Another message left at the site affirmed that “light is strong[er] than darkness,” and added “Berlin lives on.”

At a similar Christmas market in Britain, a country that in the late 20th century endured its own terrorist bombings by factions of the Irish Republican Army, marketgoers interviewed by the BBC sounded resolute.

“If you stop your life, these people have won,” said a young mother shopping at a Christmas market in Manchester, England, who had brought her two young children with her.

Should the Berlin attack be confirmed as an act of international terrorism, its aim surely was to demonize the 1 million Muslim refugees being sheltered in Germany with the hope of creating suspicion of all Muslims. It also poses a stiff political challenge for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has backed the huge humanitarian effort and who will run for reelection in the fall of 2017.

In speaking to the German people after the attack Ms. Merkel resolved to hold firm to the democratic values of tolerance and inclusion that modern Germany has demonstrated to the world. “We do not want to live paralyzed by the fear of evil,” she said. “Even if it is difficult in these hours, we will find the strength for the life we want to live in Germany – free, together, and open.”

Her words speak to all around the world who hold to the truth that love and brotherhood must triumph over hatred and division.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Germany after the market attack: ‘free, together, and open’
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today