German police officer talks terrorism and the refugee crisis


Olivia Swenson-Hultz

Wilhelm Schmidbauer, the head of the Bavarian State Police, discusses terrorism and refugees at a lecture in Lumkin Autotorium on Monday night.

Samuel Nusbaum, Administration Reporter


German police officer Wilhelm Schmidbauer talked about his experiences with terrorism to students and faculty Monday night.

Schmidbauer is the head of the Bavarian State Police, a force which has 40,000 officers employed. His translator for the evening was Christiane Eydt-Beebe, chair of the foreign language department.

In his party he had with him Robert Heimberger, the head of the Bavarian Bureau of Investigation, and Norbert Radmacher, the deputy commander of the Operations Division of the Bavarian State Police.

Schmidbauer talked about how Bavaria is the safest of the German states and the home of Oktoberfest, known for its culture and acceptance.

He said it has over 1 million refugees currently living there, who are mainly from Syria.

He also talked about three terrorist attacks, all caused by refugees, which occurred in Bavaria during the same month.

Schmidbauer told a story about a 17-year-old Afghan refugee who attacked people with an axe and a knife on a train and wounded four people critically. The 17-year-old then hurt another person who walked by him after he left the train, and he was later tracked down.

“When police tried to arrest him, he attacked them with an axe,” Schmidbauer said.

He said the suspect was an unaccompanied minor when he entered Germany who was given support and an opportunity to integrate into German society.

In another instance, a German teenager shot nine people in Munich. The attack led to the city being shut down and 2,300 police officers from Bavaria, neighboring German states and even Austria joining in on the manhunt. The suspect shot himself before the police could arrest him. The third attack was a suicide bombing.

Schmidbauer said the terrorist group known as the Islamic State of Iraq has tried to radicalize the refugees as they enter Germany.

He said the reason why the attacks were happening in Bavaria was because of its size and how populated the state is. He said the refugees mainly end up there, and the probability of an attack happening there is larger than in other states. He said the refugees are staying in Bavaria for the job opportunities and health benefits that are offered there.

Schmidbauer said crimes in Syria are being reported to Bavarian officers because the police in Syria essentially do not exist due to the ongoing civil war.

Schmidbauer said one of the goals for refugees entering Bavaria now is that all asylum seekers will be integrated into German society. A lot of refugees have shown interest in returning home as soon as they are able and conditions improve in their home countries, Schmidbauer said.

However, he said it is difficult to filter out potential terrorists from actual asylum seekers.

When helping refugees in their own country, Schmidbauer said Americans can assist them in simple ways.

“Help them to learn the language,” Schmidbauer said.

By holding a conversation with the refugees, Schmidbauer said, they can interact with the locals and learn the language, calming them down in the process.

He also said to help them get jobs based on their skillset.

Lars Ott, a junior math and computer sciences major, is from Bavaria and was excited to see his home state officials at his university.

Biological sciences professor Steve Daniel said he thought said Schmidbauer touched on important topics and did a good job of informing people to what he deals with constantly.

Daniel said he liked how Schmidbauer handled everything with the time constraints and language barrier.

“These are difficult topics, difficult questions. It’s hard to come up with one-word answers,” Daniel said.


Samuel Nusbaum can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]