New school attack has Germans asking why

ansbach 2
The “Gymnasium Carolinum” in Ansbach, Bavaria
(Source: BILD)

THE HEADLINE IS SICKENINGLY familiar. “Student attacks school,” the newspapers scream. Once again, violence has erupted on a German school campus. Not for the first time – and surely not for the last.

Police in the Bavarian town of Ansbach report that on the morning of September 17, 2009, the third day of class following summer break. An eighteen year-old male student called Georg R. approached his school armed with Molotov cocktails, knives, and an axe. He first chopped his way through the door with the axe and then proceeded to hurl two of the incendiary devices at fellow students and teachers before special police units arrived on the scene minutes later and shot him in the chest, wounding him severely. A total of ten persons were injured. Two girls suffered severe burns to the head and were evacuated by helicopter. The student, who was described by his classmates as a “loner,” will be charged with attempted murder. There is no further word yet on his identity or motives.

Events of this kind always lead to profound soul-searching. This time people might search even harder, since this school hardly fits the profile of a killing field. But is that not always the case in Germany? The “Gymnasium Carolinum” is the second-oldest public high school in Bavaria. As a so-called Gymnasium, it represents the upper tier of the three-tiered German secondary school system. It is an elite institution dating back to 1528. It moved into its current location in 1736. Ansbach itself is one of Bavaria’s loveliest and most historic towns – a town that now, sadly, has one more claim to fame.

Back in March of 2009, another murder fantasy became a reality…



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