Monday December 19, 2016
Witness describes 'horrifying' scene after truck crashes into Berlin Christmas market
Jan Hollitzer was at the Berlin Christmas market when a truck drove through the crowd, killing 12 and leaving 48 people wounded. Hollitzer is the deputy editor-in-chief of a local news outlet, Berliner Morgenpost. He spoke with As It Happens host Carol Off late Monday night about what he witnessed. Here is part of their conversation.
Carol Off: Jan, where were you when the truck drove into the Christmas market?
Jan Hollitzer: I was on the other side of the street in which the Christmas market took place — maybe 50 metres away. I heard noise from destroyed [stalls] that were centred around the place, and some screams. Then I saw lights, many Christmas lights, that were shaking. Then the truck came out of the Christmas market again, destroyed some small [stalls] and came out on the street.
CO: Did you actually see the truck plow into the market where all these people were?
JH: No I didn't see in the moment when the truck came on the market. I was very scared by the situation. It was immediately after the accident.
CO: You are also a journalist. Tell us how you were feeling at that moment?
JH: I had to decide, should I document or because of all the injured people there, to respect the people who were injured by the truck. But then I decided to go live and show the world what happened there. I walked over to the market and described what I'd seen. I tried to put it in words but those are pictures you don't want to see in your life. The injured people on the ground and people under the truck. I don't want to go into too much detail because I've never seen this before and I hope I never have to see this again. It's really horrifying.
CO: Did you speak with people, with witnesses?
JH: That was really complicated. I had to make a decision as a journalist to document all the brutality or not.
CO: And why did you decide that you should?
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JH: Because a friend of mine, a colleague, did the same from Nice. He was there, like me today, when the chaos happened. He also decided to document the situation and we have to report about that.
CO: You mention Nice, France. This is of course what happened in July on Bastille Day in France, where a truck drove into a crowd and killed 86 people.
JH: Right. That was what I first imagined when I saw that scenery — "Oh no. We have Nice, in Berlin."
This interview was edited for length and clarity. For more on this developing story go to cbc.ca/news and listen to our full interview with Jan Hollitzer.