Gießen (dpa / lhe) - The murder of the Kassel District President Walter Lübcke, knife attacks, hostility and vandalism: officials and mandate holders in Germany are often victims of violent or verbal attacks.
A recently published study by criminologist Britta Bannenberg from the Justus Liebig University in Gießen among Hessian mayors shows that aggression and threats against politicians or their personal environment are widespread.
With an impact on democracy: When asked whether hostility and threats of violence have an impact on a new candidacy, more than a quarter of the answers are "yes".
For the study, all 422 city and community leaders in Hesse were written to using an online questionnaire about their experiences with violence and aggression.
Questions were asked about experiences during the term of office, among other things, on insults, threats, death threats, damage to property or intimidation of oneself and people close to them.
All those who were contacted received a personal access code to prevent accidental double participation.
More than half of the mayors took part - 203 fully and 9 partially.
The survey shows that 7.6 percent of those questioned experienced violent attacks with physical or psychological consequences.
Three percent also had attacks on people close to them.
7.6 percent had received death threats by letter, 2 percent in direct contact and 1 percent via social media, sometimes several times.
For 13 percent of those surveyed, personal property was destroyed or damaged.
In the case of insults, it can be assumed that everyone has already experienced this.
The answers given by the city leaders revealed numerous details about the attacks.
One mayor wrote: "Threatened with the cut-throat gesture when I was standing in front of the car wash at a gas station."
Another mayor quoted the content of an email addressed to him: «After the TV report, I have the impression that you are a corrupt figure, remote from the citizen, whose death would gently improve the quality of life of all residents ... May you perish quickly and in agony . "
Otherwise, threats ranged from announcing physical violence to setting fire to the house or rape of the wife.
Violence against public figures is not a new phenomenon.
But reports about it would increase.
And the group of mayors in particular is a comparatively easy target for potential perpetrators.
Unlike European, federal or state politicians, they would have more points of contact with people.
With regard to the corona pandemic, due to the time of the survey, no statement can be made on the influence on potential perpetrators due to the second lockdown and the associated restrictions on fundamental rights.
Overall, one can attest that a well-founded database can facilitate the protection of the least protected politicians and ensure that fear of violence does not impair the free application for political office and thus endanger democracy.
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 210405-99-87482 / 3