The recent violent incidents in public swimming pools, mainly in Berlin, are now a matter of serious concern to state and federal authorities.

The public pool Columbiabad of Neukeln in Berlin has repeatedly turned into a battleground, mainly between young men from an immigrant background and workers in the facilities.

Since last weekend, the pool remains closedby decision of the state government.

“We will not tolerate a small part of our baths becoming a place of illegality,” said Berlin Governor/Mayor Kai Wegner (CDU), but left open the question of what additional measures should be taken, while appearing rather critical of stronger police presence in the areas.

Already last month, workers at Berlin’s public swimming pools had warned in a letter that the number and nature of the incidents were making the working conditions of employees unbearable.

“The incidents are taking on unbearable proportions and the operating regulations are constantly and deliberately violated”, the workers wrote and declared themselves “psychologically terrified”, according to the newspaper “Tagesspiegel”.

As the newspaper points out, workers, as well as women and LGBTI+ people, are now receiving daily verbal attacks, intimidation, threats of violence, but also physical insults.

Very often patrons push or spit on security staff.

In their letter, the workers also talk about understaffing and ask for a constant police presence at the pools and entry only for families with children, especially during peak hours.

The reaction of the authorities

Chancellor Olaf intervened in the matter today Soltz, stressing that “as a state we will not tolerate behavior contrary to our rules”.

Asked about it, Mr. Scholz spoke of “a quality of life that we enjoy in Germany and that is very important, that’s why we have to react to such incidents and not shrug our shoulders indifferently – and with the police.” When asked if the incidents highlight shortcomings in the immigrant integration process, he emphasized: “If you do something like that, you are not behaving according to our rules. And this is something we should – rightly – protest about. It is only right that there should be consequences for these actions. We have to be there and make it clear that as a state we will not tolerate this.”

The leader of the Christian Democratic Party (CDU) Friedrich Mertz also called for a stronger police presence. “We are surprised by what is happening. These are obviously large groups of unrestrained young people, with or without a migrant background. We will not avoid a greater police presence,” he said.

The Berlin Police Union (GdP) on the other hand considers the restriction of access to public swimming pools a reasonable measure, but not the constant presence of the police.

GdP head Benjamin Jendro referred to “testosterone-laden youths ready for a fight”, called for the recruitment of additional security personnel and said: “It is always easy to demand the presence of the police. And that is certainly true when it comes to offenses. But police officers are neither lifeguards nor security personnel.”

In the same vein, the federal president of the Union, Jochen Kopelke, stated that “it is not the job of the police to protect water slides or patrol sunbathing areas”.