Emergency services examine the crime scene in Illerkirchberg (Alb-Donau-Kreis): The perfect world broke down in 2019
Photo: Ralf Zwiebler / dpa
There are tragedies that unfold their terror and pain out of nowhere.
Without any warning, without prior conflict or recognizable interpersonal relationships.
Without a point.
Such a tragedy happened on Monday in Oberkirchberg, a district of the municipality of Illerkirchberg in the Alb-Donau district.
A man attacked two girls, aged 13 and 14, on their way to school in the morning, seriously injuring them.
The children were taken to hospitals.
The 14-year-old died of her injuries in the afternoon.
The madness began in the cold, misty gloom of this morning.
At around 7:30 a.m., an alarm was received at the police headquarters in Ulm.
A caller described a crime.
Immediately, a massive operational machinery began, consisting of police officers, armed members of a special task force and the forensics team.
The first suspicion: that a killing spree is taking place at the elementary school in Oberkirchberg.
This quickly turned out to be a mistake;
the girls were attacked on the street on their way to the bus stop.
At first nobody knows how and why.
In the evening, the police and public prosecutor's office in Ulm made at least outlines of what happened public in a written statement.
The girls have therefore been stabbed.
According to witnesses, the attacker is said to have come from a nearby accommodation for asylum seekers and fled there again after the crime.
Three men from Eritrea were arrested during a house search. One of them, aged 27, was injured and taken to a hospital under guard.
A knife was found on him that could be the murder weapon.
He is now the prime suspect.
Hours beforehand, the SWR let a witness speak who claims to have seen one of the girls lying on the ground with a "huge stab wound in the abdomen".
The other child also had a stab wound below the breast.
Only superficially ideal world
According to the police, the deceased 14-year-old is “a German with a migration background”.
One of the open questions is whether she and the attacker knew each other, whether this was the motive for the bloody deed.
For a long time, the mayor of Illerkirchberg didn't know anything specific himself.
His name is Markus Häußler, he was elected to office as a non-party candidate in 2020, when he was just 35 years old.
In the morning he immediately drove to his suburb, where the police had already pulled out barrier tape.
"I wasn't allowed to go all the way to the front either," he says.
So at first he couldn't say a word of his dismay, couldn't comfort anyone, couldn't praise the emergency services, who he observed had worked "highly professionally".
Illerkirchberg is a quiet place with no real center, stretching across several residential areas, located directly on the border with Bavaria, between the economically strong Swabian cities of Ulm in the north and Biberach in the south.
Local politicians have done a lot in recent years to prevent the community, with its almost 5,000 inhabitants, from gradually sinking into a sleeper colony, where hordes of commuters only fall tiredly onto their pillows in the evenings.
The community is debt-free and has used its financial freedom to get a second school in addition to the primary school in Oberkirchberg.
This is only possible if the families stay and if possible new ones are added.
That has worked so far: through the regular designation of new development areas, the establishment of supermarkets, the financing of a music school.
The clubs, especially the rifle club, maintain their youth work.
Nevertheless, there can be no talk of a perfect world.
If it did exist in Illerkirchberg, it broke on Halloween night in 2019.
The trauma of 2019 is coming up again
In October three years ago, four men between the ages of 17 and 26 from Iraq and Afghanistan made a 14-year-old girl defenseless in a refugee accommodation and raped her several times.
The crime took place in a remote house in another part of town that was then used by the community.
In March 2021, the Ulm Regional Court sentenced the perpetrators to prison terms of two years and three months and two years and two months.
The mayor at the time was called Anton Bertele, and he was also non-party.
After the crime, he described in detail how the mood in the town boiled up, how the Internet forums were filled with calls for harsh penalties - and how he himself was accused in letters to the editor of the local newspaper of being a hardliner on refugee issues.
Bertele, who had fallen between the camps and was often attacked by hostilities, then had no more ambitions for another term in office.
Reflexive reactions again on Monday: The migration policy spokesman for the AfD parliamentary group in the state parliament, Ruben Rupp, is appalled, writing: "There was another brutal knife murder in Illerkirchberg." Everything points to "another murder of an asylum seeker or so-called refugee there".
He called for "immediate political consequences."
Mayor Häußler does not want to participate in any prejudice, he is not interested in politics this afternoon.
He had just learned that the 14-year-old girl could not be saved.
He says, "I think I can speak for the whole community when I say we're all in shock."
There are no instructions for dealing with this bloody deed, no plan to fall back on.
Almost all members of the municipal council of Illerkirchberg have arranged to meet up for the evening.
They just know at this point that they want to help, however.
“We can be there and we can be the point of contact,” says Häußler.
He doesn't have any specific actions in mind yet, just this: "There won't be an everyday routine for the next few days."
Only halfway positive news stands out from the thicket of assumptions, information and half-information until evening, like a faint light from the all-encompassing darkness.
According to the police, the 13-year-old girl was in a "stable condition" after the first intervention by the doctors.