Security and safety at Silvester in Frankfurt

This new year was surprisingly subdued in Frankfurt. Compared to Silvester last year, I would say that there were roughly half as many people outside this year to celebrate the New Year. It could have been the fact that the city does a relatively small firework display near Alte Oper now and leave the river to amateur displays. It could have been that for a second year, the city was freezing cold and shrouded in mist. But I would suspect that these reasons had an impact, but so also did the recent terror attack in Berlin. The police did a great job last night though to be reassuring – the city centre and river area was blocked to all traffic by concrete bollards and armed police on full show. The most dangerous thing last night was all of the random fireworks let off in all directions by the crowds around the city…

This is a pretty good summary of the view across the city from the Sheraton:

Although many people here didn’t want to admit it openly there was something of a collective sigh of relief that new year came and went without a major incident. Certainly, US and UK media outlets were poised ready to hold up even the most minor incident as evidence of why Germany got everything wrong and is now a hotspot of terror with gunmen at every corner. The truth is that while many people are rightly cautious and sometimes scared about attending large events, it is still considerably safer than a normal evening in most major US or UK cities.

Still, for Germany this has been an unnerving year. Many people, I suspect the majority, are pleased that Merkel opened the door to refugees. The main complaint is about how it was done. No one really knows who was let in or where they are. And now the country faces a race against time to integrate this massive influx and the police are facing a challenge of not racially profiling but at the same time trying to avoid being criticised for a repeat of last year’s New Year attacks at Cologne station. Instead, they preemptively detained over 200 people ‘to check their IDs’ :-).

For the most part though, people are going about their business as usual, and New Year parties seem to have been relocated to indoor venues and and skyline bars. Not a bad thing really considering the weather…



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