Safety of walking through Berlin at night

Is it safe? Where are the safest areas?

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acozma
Hello to everyone.

I am a Romanian student, willing to travel in Czech Republic and Germany this summer.

Even if Berlin is not on my agenda, it was impossible for me to stay away from this magnificent city and I decided to see it, but only for 6 or 7 hours, between the arrival and departure of my trains.

What I want to know is if I may walk through Berlin (the centre of the city, not the Eastern Part) between 10 p.m and 6 a.m for seeing briefly the main landmarks and being sure that there are minimal chances to be robbed. At the same time I would be very happy if someone would advice me what to see for these 8 hours.
nw2berlin
Acozma, Berlin is a really safe city. I've never felt a threat here, and I've been all over the place at all times of the day and night. You happen to be in luck that the Hauptbahhof is located close to the Reichstag. You can't miss it. Walk to the Reichstag, and from there, there are tons of cool things to see, ie: Soviet War Memorial, Brandenburger Tor, Murdered Jews of Europe Memorial, Siegesauele, Unter den Linden... just to name a few. Hope you have a good time!
miwild
... (the centre of the city, not the Eastern Part) ...
The center of the city (Bezirk Mitte) is actually in the Eastern part ...

Mitte was the most central borough of Berlin (Mitte is German for centre). It was set up in 1920, when Groß-Berlin was set up, and in 2001 it was joined with Wedding and Tiergarten to make a new borough called Mitte or Berlin-Mitte.

Mitte was in East Berlin, and had a lot of Berlin's historic sites. The Pergamon Museum, Unter den Linden and the Brandenburg Gate were in Mitte.

In 2001 Mitte was joined with two boroughs from West Berlin. This helped to break down the idea of a divided city, and put the important tourist centre of Berlin under one local government.
Boroughs of East Berlin

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dessa_dangerous
Digging up an old thread to find out where other people stand. A friend of mine commented tonight--AGAIN--that she thinks the part of Berlin I live in isn't the "safest" neighborhood. Now, let's get geographical: I live in the general vicinity of Fuldastraße, at the canal. This makes it a little corner of Neukölln that's close to Treptow, Kreuzberg and Templehof. Being so centrally located, I feel rather safe at all times--it's when I'm out in the boondocks that I sometimes think, "shit, if someone robbed or assaulted me, there would be no witnesses". But in the urban bits of Berlin I have never questioned my safety. Is this naive?

Also, what constitutes "safety"? A girl we both know claims that she used to get hollered at by Turkish dudes and for this reason moved to Friedrichshain, where those pesky Turks couldn't bother her any more. When I said that being hollered at and being physically assaulted were two different things, I instantly became the insensitive one. However, as anyone who has ever lived in an Actually Rough Neighborhood will tell you, there is a world of difference between being followed home/beaten up and mugged, and being on the receiving end of a couple of cat calls.

Anyone here ever feel "unsafe" while walking around Berlin? Any first-hand accounts of random violence (meaning that you yourself, and not a friend, or someone on the street, was assaulted without provocation)?
swimmer
I agree in that I lived in the "roughest parts" of major British cities for two decades and had no trouble - woman alone, no car, walked everywhere. I guess one point is that remarks and the rest are tough for women to deal with but a lot of the worst inner city problems are male-on-male. I always had the view that I was probably far safer as a woman than a man. In big cities, there are often people around, even into the middle of the night - I always felt "safety in numbers". You also see it differently as part of it because the other residents are your mates, not some sort of strage threat.

However, Neukölln borough in particular, it does get very wide legative publicity across Germany. That 60% of all crime in Berlin takes place in that borough alone has been all over the media in recent weeks (usually in the context of Sarrazin's remarks). Along with the other standard negative figures about unemployment etc. A lot of immigrants living in Berlin are probably not reading German media routinely though, of course, and so do not see how these perceptions are fed and built up.
ImogenJ
I think that maybe I adjust the way that I hold myself in Berlin. I keep my head up, my body language strong and walk with more purpose, at least when I'm unsure of my surroundings or it's night time. I feel like lots of people are in their own little world, so even if they're a bit dodgy you'll probably be able to keep out of it if you keep looking and walking straight ahead, looking like you have somewhere to be.

Dessa, I lived around there (but closer to S Sonnenallee) but only for a month, so my experience is very limited. In that month, I "only" experienced one incident relating to street harrassment, compared to the 4 or 5 that I experienced in two weeks in Stuttgart (one of the safest cities in Germany, apparently. And to think that so many people there warned me not to live in Neukoelln!) It was a group of boys, maybe 18 or 19, hanging out in a park at night time and one of them tried to get my attention, "hallo! hallo!" but when i ignored him he left it. it freaked me out a bit because in the past me ignoring cat calls and men trying to get my attention has usually led to being called nasty things or feeling even more threatened, and I was alone in the street in a quieter part of Neukoelln.

I think that it is problematic to dismiss cat calls as not as serious, because I know that there have been times when I've had groups of men harrass me on the street and I do not know that it won't escalate from there. So far it hasn't, and I am so grateful for that, but the cat calls themselves can also be violent and threatening and they're so unnecessary, that I'm not going to think of them as some fantastic trade for not experiencing physical violence.
donno
I agree with the posters above me: Berlin is generally safe, even in the poorest areas. It always pays though to be sensible and not do anything that seems irresponsible to a sensible person. Don't take candies from strangers, even in the safest areas of the world.

Dessa asked whether

Anyone here ever feel "unsafe" while walking around Berlin? Any first-hand accounts of random violence (meaning that you yourself, and not a friend, or someone on the street, was assaulted without provocation)?
I have no first hand accounts of violence, but when I come to think about it, safety is something in our heads. A woman may feel much more threatened when she's sexually harassed, even if as you say, it is not necessarily violent in the literal sense of the word. The fact that A is not B (and holler is not violence) does not mean that one has to live or even visit in a neighbourhood that makes him or her feel uncomfortable, no matter what the reason may be.
dessa_dangerous
That 60% of all crime in Berlin takes place in that borough alone has been all over the media in recent weeks (usually in the context of Sarrazin's remarks).
did you find out what kind of crime? Does this mean it's not safe to leave your bike at the train station or that it's not safe to walk around unchaperoned?

I think that it is problematic to dismiss cat calls as not as serious, because I know that there have been times when I've had groups of men harrass me on the street and I do not know that it won't escalate from there. So far it hasn't...
I would love to get the statistics on how many rapes begin with being cat-called on the street.

more threatened when she's sexually harassed, even if as you say, it is not necessarily violent in the literal sense of the word. The fact that A is not B (and holler is not violence) does not mean that one has to live or even visit in a neighbourhood that makes him or her feel uncomfortable, no matter what the reason may be.
That is indeed true. I also didn't say that everyone should come visit and live in Neukölln, because I would prefer that they didn't.

What I can't grasp is why someone would want to perpetuate negativity about a neighborhood when it is unsubstantiated. It is different here, but what I want to know is, is one more likely to get their purse snatched in one part of town than the other? More likely to be raped, get their face smashed in with a brick, have their bike stolen, their house burgled? I suppose the cat-call one annoys me the most because the vast majority of rapes are committed by someone the victim knows and not by boogeymen who jump out from behind the bushes, although that does of course happen sometimes too (albeit very, very rarely).

It was only a couple of years ago that that older fella--film director or something?--was beaten up and robbed in Charlottenburg. The last time someone was beaten to a bloody pulp and subsequently died was at a train station in Friedrichshain. The last time I saw a fist fight I was in Prenzlauer Berg. But in four years of living in Neukölln I have never heard of or witnessed a mugging, heard of anyone being beaten to a bloody pulp by a vicious street gang and I have never even seen a fight on the street (although I'm sure the fist fights must happen...?).

So do people think certain parts of Berlin are more dangerous because of anything substantiated, or because they take a look at the sorts of people who live there and, in their lack of familiarity with certain subcultures, become afraid? Even if they have no real reason to be?
ImogenJ
Dessa, I actually do know someone who was raped by people who sexually harrassed them outside a club. Yes, the statistics all say this is unlikely, but please don't use those statistics to complete ignore peoples' experiences.

I know that statistically I'm more likely to be assaulted by a friend or relative or partner, but the reaction that my body has when i am harrassed in the street is more of a fight-flight reflex thing, than something that can be controlled by thinking. And that reaction is not pleasant, it hasn't eased over time and since it seems like you don't experience it, then maybe that's why you can't understand why some women feel the way they do about cat-calls?
dessa_dangerous
1. I'm not ignoring people's experiences (although hearsay/second/third/tenth-hand experiences can be a bit iffy, which is why above, I asked about personal experiences). Was this person you knew raped in Berlin? Which part?

2. I do get the cat calls. It just doesn't threaten me.

3. I understand the fight-flight reflex. I'm not asking people to explain why they hate my neighborhood. I'm asking about whether anyone's fears have actually been justified.
ImogenJ
The person I know was not raped in Berlin, but my point was that for some people (not you, though) cat calls are threatening. Not just because there's the fear of physical violence, but for other reasons too. For me the way my body reacts to street harrassment is very unpleasant. Faster heartbeat, shaky hands, breathing too quickly, and it takes a while for me to feel normal again. But the cat calls that I've experienced have always felt quite violent. The men yell things from their cars and if I ignore them I'm called a "f***ing bitch", which is maybe different to other cat calls that people experience where if ignored the men won't react like such jerks? I don't know, because every single man who has harrassed me in the street in Australia has pretty much reacted the same way, and after that happens a few times I think your instincts generally react the same from there on out.

But back to Kreuzberg/Neukoelln/Kreuzkoelln: Apart from the one experience I mentioned earlier, I didn't experience any street harrassment in Neukoelln and found that women I met who lived around the area were happy to walk home late at night listening to their ipods, something that I would never do in Melbourne. I feel like there's just as much chance, if not more, of being harrassed in the street by some mob of drunk male British or American tourists in Mitte, anyway. But if street harrassment doesn't bother you, you don't have to worry about that.
I feel like there's so much racism and classism behind statements about the safety of Kreuzberg and Neukoelln. I seriously had someone tell me "Don't live there, it's full of poor people and foreigners!"
peter douglas
you come from Romania and ask about your safety in berlin ha ha ha ha.
görlitzer
Hi,
As far as personal safety in concerned, Berlin is a blessed place.
Just yesterday I was alarmed to read in the Australian daily press that one in five Australian women had personally experienced some form of violence other than domestic. Rapes, stabbings, "glassing" and drunken assaults are daily occurences in Melbourne.
Read the Berlin press and you'll get a picture.

Personally I have walked all over the place here in the dark, and have never had any trouble, nor has anyone I know. I am female...
Mark of the Beast
I have to agree on the overall safety of Berlin. In fact, everywhere I've been in Germany, I've never felt even the slightest twinge of fear ... although, my wife was followed home (this was before we'd met) from her job on Torstraße: nothing eventuated (thankfully), but it was enough to give her a proper fright.

Let's be honest though, being in Berlin doesn't mean we're wrapped in cotton wool, we all know violence does happen here like it does in every city. But coming from Adelaide, where I've been the victim of plenty of abstract violence and witnessed attacks pretty much EVERY time I went out for the night, it's a refreshing thing to be able to head out and know that you're coming home in one piece, no matter where you go.

Another thing: festivals. I find it incredible that thousands of people can be camped together for several days, with 24 hour access to alcohol and minimal security on the campgrounds, and there is almost no argy bargy whatsoever. Amazing! In Australia, it would descend into a riot within hours. We were at the Spirit of the Streets festival last month, three days and something like 10,000 drunken chaos punks and skinheads, and I didn't see one incident, or harsh word spoken between people. Krass, nö?
Krieg
Another thing: festivals. I find it incredible that thousands of people can be camped together for several days, with 24 hour access to alcohol and minimal security on the campgrounds, and there is almost no argy bargy whatsoever. Amazing! In Australia, it would descend into a riot within hours.
And pretty much everyone leaves the camping tent unlocked and unattended for the day. In my country all your belongings will disappear in half an hour, even the tent.
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