Germany: Car hits gate outside Angela Merkel’s office

The vehicle with ‘Stop Globalisation Politics’ and ‘You damn killers of children and old people’ graffitied rams gate, causing no damage.

Firefighters attend a man who crashed with his car into the main gate of the chancellery in Berlin, the office of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Germany; the man's face is pixelated for privacy reasons [Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters]

A car crashed into the front gate of the building housing German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office on Wednesday morning, causing minor damage, authorities said. The driver was detained.

Police were investigating the crash, which took place at 10am (09:00 GMT) at the German chancellery in Berlin.

The car, a Volkswagen estate car, had the slogan “You damned murderers of children and old people” scrawled in white paint on one side. On the other, it said, “Stop the globalisation policies.”

Police spokesman Thilo Cablitz told reporters the 54-year-old driver was detained from the scene after driving at a slow speed into the gate and was being questioned.

He said police were investigating whether he is psychologically disturbed or had other motivations.

The driver was known to authorities for a similar incident in 2014, a German interior ministry spokesman said on Wednesday.

In that incident four years ago, he drove at slow speeds into the same gate, causing no damage. The car also carried a slogan condemning climate change and the man was taken into custody.

Reports at the time said the man had done something similar before.

Merkel’s office said there was only minor damage to the security gate on Wednesday.

“For the chancellor, other members of the federal government, and the people employed in the chancellery there was no danger at any time,” her office said.

It was not clear if Merkel was inside the building, a white post-modernist structure set across a square from the Reichstag building that houses Germany’s parliament and well set back from any main roads.

The car had licence plates from the Lippe area in western Germany and was driven away by the Berlin fire department showing little sign of damage beyond a few scratches. The metal gate to the chancellery appeared slightly bent.

The chancellery sits in downtown Berlin next to the Swiss embassy and across from parliamentary offices. The exterior gate that was hit, which is next to a security office outside the main building, opens onto a public street.

There was no immediate indication of what prompted the incident, but it came on the day that Merkel was to meet state governors to talk about extending a partial coronavirus shutdown that started on November 2.

The government’s approach towards slowing the coronavirus pandemic and the restrictions enjoy widespread support among most Germans but they have also prompted occasionally violent protests in some big cities.

Journalists film the car which crashed into the gate of the main entrance of the chancellery in Berlin, the office of German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, Germany [Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters]