Germany tries to stop fights in public swimming pools
SA cave in Berlin it’s not stupid this year. More than 100 police officers spent July 20 chasing reports of a stray lion. None turned; perhaps it was a wild boar. So Berliners returned to the other big local debate: whether the police should patrol city pools to prevent fights.
Both Friedrich Merz, the leader of the German Christian Democrat opposition (cUK), and Nancy Faeser, interior minister of the Social Democrats, in favor. There is no police union. Cops, he says, are not trained to be Bademeister (life preservers); in Germany, the world champion for work licensing, the job requires a three-year apprenticeship. One idea is to limit pools to families with children at peak times.
Fights at pools are nothing new, but the frequency and violence has increased recently. In the past four weeks, Eric Voss from the German bathing culture association has recorded around 20 brawls or attacks in the 2,800 outdoor public pools in Germany. Some stem from cultural clashes between immigrant groups or frustration left over from loose locks. A new factor is high inflation that has made vacation trips unaffordable. “We have all become more thin-skinned and selfish,” said Peter Harzheim, Germany’s chief pro-life activist.
What do you do? Mr. Harzheim wants video surveillance, guards and asks swimmers to sign up with a press release id (which recently became mandatory in Berlin). He also believes that crimes at pools must be punished more quickly. (There is cTWO requiring criminals to be hauled before a judge on the same day; This is unrealistic for Mr. Harzheim.) Some pool operators use volunteer mediators. In Stuttgart read their blue shirts Appreciate (leaders of respect), in Berlin Cool the Pool.
It is not surprising that the farthest party for Germany dives in, blaming the fights on migrants. The sensational media is also fanning the flames. By autumn the heat will probably disappear, but for now the outlook at German baths is not very cold.■