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Battle Of Berlin

1 minute read

The old East Berlin neighborhood of Mainzer Strasse still bears the scars of World War II, and for a few hours last week it seemed as if war had returned. Moving swiftly in the bleak dawn, a force of 3,000 police, using bulldozers and armored personnel carriers, smashed over trenches and through 6-ft. barricades to battle squatters ensconced in the derelict blocks. While bricks and fire bombs rained down from rooftops, the authorities flushed out hundreds of squatters with clubs and tear gas. At least 160 were injured, including 90 police, and Mayor Walter Momper’s governing coalition of Greens and Social Democrats collapsed because of the violence.

Many of those arrested were militants from western Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands who have flooded across the fallen Wall to pursue a radical political agenda in united Germany. The Berlin fighting was also part of a wider pattern of recent violence in eastern Germany, including football riots and beatings of foreigners by gangs of proto-Nazi skinheads. Many officials attribute the troubles to rising unemployment and a collapse of local authority — dangerous new problems that are the dark side of East Germany’s liberation from communism.

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