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Traveling around Germany - no go zones

Hi - I'm heading to Germany next week and I've been doing some reading on no go zones since I'm getting conflicting comments. However, I did read an article that Chancellor Merkel admitted they do exist. I'm going to do my genealogy so I will be all over the back roads of the country, north and south, with just my sister and I in our car. Do we have to worry about certain areas? Thanks in advance!

Posted by
813 posts

I'm getting conflicting comments.

I can imagine that you are.

However, I did read an article that Chancellor Merkel admitted they do exist.

The context of that interview in 2018 is probably not what most people mean when they say "no go zones". She meant places where people don't want to go due to high crime, not areas that have been abandoned by the police. From the artilce: In an interview Monday with German broadcaster n-tv, Merkel said she favors a zero tolerance policy on crime and that includes preventing no-go areas, “that’s areas where nobody dares to go.” This exists in every country. You are not likely to encounter these areas at all in your travel (unless you are flying from the US, in which case you are more likely to encounter a high crime area driving to the airport than you are in Germany)

I'm going to do my genealogy so I will be all over the back roads of the country, north and south, with just my sister and I in our car. Do we have to worry about certain areas?

In short, No. Germany is incredibly safe compared to the US. You have nothing to worry about.


Posted by
4699 posts

There are several German Residents that participate regularly on this board, I would be interested to hear their impressions of this, but I think I can anticipate their response.

You are getting conflicting comments because the State Department, most News Media, the German Government, The EU Government all do not bother to comment on something that does not exist.

On the other hand, if you tune into the more sensationalist websites, then yeah, they claim all kinds of dangers and suspicions about "No-Go Zones". I guess I would examine, the sources you see talking about this. Only my opinion, but the results of a search showing Daily News, Express News, CNS, even Fox News; and few other hits reflecting well known outlets and official releases, I find highly suspicious. Yes, Merkel did make an off hand comment, but other world leaders have been known to say silly things. No one else in the German Government seems to be standing by her comments.

The history behind No-Go zones is fraught with Racist and Anti-Muslim rhetoric, you might consider areas with high crime, but to suggest the presence of a certain religion or ethnicity is a "No-Go" zone is a bit problematic.

Edit: DJ was able to chime in while I was responding, his comments are spot on. Do not confuse someones comment with a term that means something very different in the US. In the actual interview, while she used the term, she was not referring to the same type of thing as all of the Right-Wing outlets have made it.

Posted by
8785 posts

Merkel said . . . . that includes preventing no-go areas, “that’s areas where nobody dares to go.”

That is not Angela Merkel saying No-Go zones exist, it is her saying she wants to stop them actually happening - totally different.
If I (or anybody else) says they want to prevent Nuclear War, that does not mean it has happened.

This is fake news.

Posted by
2853 posts

Not fake news, just a bad interpretation of the news that was reported.

I have never felt unsafe anywhere in Germany. Maybe because I look German and speak the language, but I have never run into any situation there the worried me, even when walking to the hotel in the early morning after a long night of drinking.

Posted by
7562 posts

Never heard of anything like that. Wondering where you are reading these comments?
You do not have to worry about anything like that. The entire country is far safer than you can imagine.

Posted by
1315 posts

Background: Merkel was asked in an interview about meaning of zero-tolerance policy and her answer included that there shall be no no-go-areas in Germany and that there are some areas in which German state needs to keep the control. Source: German interview text by n-tv - reliable German source.

Personal opinion: I am not aware of any real no-go areas in Germany - means that nobody dares to go there or that there is no state control.

Germany's crime rate is very low compared to USA and other travel destinations. A very simple example for illustration: In whole year 2018 Germany had 109 people killed by firearms - this is the number of people killed by firearms in the USA every day.

Sure, we have some crime and so called kbOs which stands for "kriminalitätsbelastete Orte" (crime affected places). This is a declaration which can be given and erased by police to places which show certain quantity or quality of crime to be allowed for enhanced rights (e.g. unreasoned ID checks, video surveillance, ...).

A good example is Berlin-Alexanderplatz which showed from 2015 an increase of violence because groups arranged trouble meetings on social media there. Since 2017 we have a small police station directly located on Alexanderplatz and since then this topic decreased around 70%. So, safe place with over 500k travelers every day.

@OP and other travelers: my advice is to move freely in Germany because security is really ensured. In case of emergency dial 110 or ask somebody to call the police ("Bitte rufen Sie die Polizei an."). But rational security is not emotional safety feeling. So regular human behaviour helps: Avoid places and situations you do not feel safe.

Biggest matter of concern for most tourists are tricky and well trained pickpockets at touristic places (see pickpocketing prevention flyer from Cologne police for example).

Posted by
3816 posts

We lived in Augsburg, Germany for four years from 1987 until 1991. We loved Germany and agree that it was very safe back then.
I worked for the US Army and was an officer in the Military Police as well. I did several short tours with the US Army in Germany. I learned all about the state of crime in Germany. Even back in those days, there were neighborhoods that were not advisable to visit at night. Those neighborhoods were relatively few compared to what was the case in the USA.

I remember reading about a German couple that were tourists that flew into Miami, Florida back in the 90s and took the wrong exit off the Interstate and wound up in the worst area for crime in South Florida. They didn't make it out alive.

We still have these places in the USA, even though the overall crime rate in our country has dropped considerably, there are still no-go zones. Americans tend to learn quickly where these areas are and avoid them. These areas are usually controlled by local criminal gangs. Most of the shootings in our country take place in these areas and are gang related. I retired from Homeland Security and anybody in law enforcement will tell you that. Some cities in our country have done a better job of reducing crime. New York City had great leadership in the 90s and early 21st Century and law enforcement did wonders for that great city. Other cities like Chicago have not.

Regarding Germany and no go zones. We have a German woman that is our friend here in Georgia that we met in Augsburg. She married an American and still goes back to Augsburg about once a year to visit family. She says that things have changed quite a bit in the past few years. She says that she and her German female friends did not feel safe going out at night like they once did.

Clearly Germany is generally a safe country. I have traveled to Europe once or twice a year in the past 10 years and find that to be generally the case in Europe. Still, we have always checked with our hotels or B&Bs before venturing out in communities in Europe. If there is an area to avoid, they usually know. We have friends that live outside London and tell us that there are some areas that they would never go at night.

That is my advice, if you go anywhere, aside from doing your own research, just get advice from your hotel or B&B.
For example, we have been to Paris several times and have been told by the locals to avoid some areas on the north and east of the city. I wanted to visit the ancient cathedral of St. Denis once and was told by a taxi driver that it was not safe. Our hotel confirmed that advice.

Posted by
547 posts

from Deutsche Welle: Germany's crime rate fell to lowest level in decades in 2018

Although the number of reported crimes is down, those statistics are not necessarily reflected in the way that people in Germany feel.
The BKA also released the results of a 2017 "victimization survey," where they asked people in 2017 about how safe they feel and whether they'd been a victim of a crime. The number of people who said they felt unsafe in their surroundings went up from 17.3 percent in 2012 to 21.4 percent in 2017, BKA president Holger Münch said.

Posted by
12053 posts

I would not even pay any heed to this comment by Merkel. If she did say this comment, in whichever context, then the question is , so what?

Bottom line, I would totally disregard the comment.

Where in the north are you two going to? Which towns or cities? I have focused most of my trips in Germany up north, ie north of Frankfurt.

Posted by
825 posts

Yes, a no-go for some, Sam, but many leave with smiles on their faces and something else on their whatsits sometime later.

Posted by
509 posts

I would take my kids anyplace in Germany at any time of the day when they were young. We have visited 5 times and the only trouble we had were beggars around the Berlin Cathedral but I can't name them now since Rick Steve's has gotten politically correct. Much like the German communities in the United States (Greeley, Colorado included) the Germans know how to deal with criminals. We don't coddle them here and every criminal, I mean every one gets the maximum (the happy result of 6 of our 8 district court judges being former DA's). The last drunk driver who killed two people got 38 years. Now that is the way to deal with criminals.

Posted by
1361 posts

I think any ‘no-go’ zones would be in the larger cites. 3 years ago a German man at our breakfast said there were 2-3 places in his city that he considered as such.

Posted by
32 posts

geovagiffith my wife and visited the cathedral of St. Denis in 2012. We took the metro to and from and never felt unsafe. It seemed just like any other part of Paris to us. It's too bad you missed out on seeing the wonderful tombs in the basement.

I think you can go anywhere you like. Germany is like any other country, there are parts where you should be extra careful and most parts are just fine. Use your common sense. I mean, you can go to a mall in the USA and get shot, or go to a market in Europe and get robbed.
Just go and enjoy. Good luck with finding your ancestors. So exciting!

Posted by
308 posts

Native German here: I have never seen no go zones . There are fussganger zones where they have no cars at all but that's it. Diesel cars are restricted in some cities I suggest to rent a regular gasoline car.