How Nuremberg′s Christkindlesmarkt is responding to Berlin attack | Lifestyle | DW | 21.12.2016
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How Nuremberg's Christkindlesmarkt is responding to Berlin attack

The attack at a Christmas market in Berlin has also shaken up people at the country's most famous market, the Christkindlesmart in Nuremberg. DW went there to find out how visitors, staff and police are reacting.

"The Christ Child invites you to its market and those who come will be welcome," says the Nuremberg Christ Child every year from the balcony of the city's Church of Our Lady.

When the Christkindlesmarkt opens each morning at 10:00, thousands follow that invitation: tourists from Europe and abroad, people on business trips, and locals, too. Some two million visitors enjoy Germany's most famous Christmas market annually.

And they are also doing that after Monday's attack on a Christmas market in Berlin. Crowds of visitors push through Nuremberg's pedestrian area, past the soft pretzel sellers, on their way to the Christkindlesmarkt - even though Berlin is on everyone's minds.

Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg and the entrance to the Frauenkirche (Stadt Nürnberg/R. Schedlbauer )

Visitors shouldn't be afraid, say the police in Nuremberg

"I was shocked," said one visitor from the Heidelberg area. Yet, she didn't want to cancel her trip to Nuremberg. "We can't let ourselves be intimidated," she said, pointing out the calming police presence.

Visitors keep coming to Nuremberg

Another passerby took a similar view. "If we stay home, then they would have gotten what they wanted - that we all sit at home in fear. And we shouldn't grant them that success," she said, with a trace of spite.

Nuremberg's police spokeswoman Elke Schönwald recommends that visitors continue enjoying the Christmas market. She emphasized that Nuremberg's security plan has worked well for years and has continually been updated.

This year, police cars are more visible at the entrances to the Christkindlesmarkt, blocking the streets that lead into the market. That measure was implemented well before the Berlin attack to prevent unwanted vehicles from entering the square.

Since Tuesday, police officers with machine guns have been guarding the entrances as well. It's a frightening image - but somehow also calming, says a couple visiting from northern Germany: "The fact that this is necessary gives us a strange feeling. But we see that it is important. You can never be 100 percent safe. Never."

Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg (Stadt Nürnberg/S.-O. Riese)

Stand organizers in Nuremberg are shocked, but determined

Visiting Nuremberg and not heading to the Christkindlesmarkt is not an option for them.

'We don't want to spread hysteria'

Christine Beeck, head of the Nuremberg market, said the market workers were shocked by the news from Berlin. The stand organizers had set up a messaging group to share their feelings about the attack and discuss how they should respond to it. Most importantly, she said, they felt they should remain calm.

"We don't want to spread hysteria. We want to be attentive - but right now we can't do much more than that," said Beeck.

The Christkindlesmarket in the heart of Nuremberg is one of Germany's oldest Christmas markets. The tradition dates back to the middle of the 16th century. Everyone here, it seems, is intent on preserving the spirit of the market, even after the tragedy in Berlin.

Police spokeswoman Elke Schönwald said the increased security shouldn't impact the atmosphere, adding that the officers wouldn't be patrolling in the market, but just at its entrances. "I think the Christmas character of the market will remain."

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