Safety and Security
German authorities are vigilant in combating terrorism and other threats to security. Authorities have uncovered and disrupted several extremist plots including some targeting U.S. interests. The most recent deadly attack occurred in March 2011, when two U.S. Airmen were killed and two others wounded when a lone Islamic extremist opened fire on them at the Frankfurt International Airport. Like other countries in the Schengen area, Germany's open borders with its European neighbors limit its ability to track suspect individuals entering and exiting the country with anonymity.
Germany's robust democracy is often expressed in large, public demonstrations on a variety of political and economic issues. Such demonstrations are common on politically significant holidays, such as German Labor Day on May 1, and during international summits hosted in Germany. In order to stage a demonstration, groups must obtain prior police approval, and police routinely oversee participants and passersby. Nonetheless, these demonstrations can attract counter-demonstrations and have the potential to turn violent. Avoid areas around protests and demonstrations and check local media for updates on the situation and traffic advisories.
U.S. citizens should exercise caution when congregating in areas known as expatriate hangouts such as restaurants, bars, and discos frequented by high numbers of resident U.S. citizens and/or U.S. citizen tourists. In addition, hooligans, most often drunken "skinheads," have been known to harass or even attack people whom they believe to be foreigners or members of rival groups. On occasion, German police reported assaults which appeared to have been motivated by racial reasons, and U.S. citizens have reported that they were assaulted for racial reasons or because they appeared "foreign."