tv Focus on Europe PBS March 7, 2016 6:30pm-7:01pm PST
♪ michelle: hello and welcome to focus on europe the program that brings you the stories behind the headlines. i'm michelle henery. thanks for joining us. coming up on today's show, german police crack down on criminal gangs from northern africa. a lithuanian writer sheds light on her country's role in the holocaust. and, finland's nuclear waste solution. here in germany, there's been growing concern over the threat of criminal gangs since the new year's eve attacks on women in cologne and elsewhere. this week, the first trials related to incidents that happened that night are taking place with one man receiving a
six month sentence for stealing a mobile phone. police hope many more of the perpetrators will be brought to justice. some of the attackers were reportedly of north african appearance putting gangs from that part of the world into the spotlight and sparking further , heated debate about germany's migration policy. cracking down on these gangs is a big challenge to police. many of the criminals are not put off by the threat of arrest or the fear of deportation. ,>> just two kilometers separate dusseldorf's elegant center and the part of the oberbilk district sometimes called little morocco or the maghreb district. 300 officers are searching cafes, shisha bars, and casinos, looking for illegal immigrants and drug dealers. 40 men are detained this evening. 38 of them are in germany illegally. in this community, where many are of north african descent, residents are growing increasingly angry about
criminality in their midst. >> it's good. they should do it more often, and clean things up here. >> and how will it help? >> it will get rid of the guys causing problems, so we can live in peace with our neighbors again. for years, we've gotten along, also with the germans here. but ever since those guys arrived. >> they tried to rob me here twice last week. we see a lot of dealers here and i'm against that. to be honest, a bit of police presence here is not a bad thing. >> crime rates in the district have risen dramatically over the last few years. more than 2000 people of north african descent are said to have committed crimes here last year. >> the maghreb district is a hot spot, which also draws criminals from other areas, who hang out here.
it's a social and cultural hub for criminal gangs from north africa, especially. >> we try to arrange an interview with someone from this alleged criminal underworld. finally we establish contact , with taoufik m, who's from morocco. he came to germany two years ago. before that he was in italy. , taoufik m. brings us to a refugee shelter, where he goes to meet friends. these men have all applied for asylum in germany, but petty crime is still the norm. >> one steals a pair of pants, the other a telephone, or a bag. everybody works alone. >> do you practice? >> no. >> and where'd you learn it? >> i started stealing when i was 10 years old. >> both men get public assistance. they each get 300 euros a month. during the asylum process, they're not permitted to work.
they say that's why they steal. >> i've stolen clothes, just to be able to buy food at the end of the month. i haven't done it for six weeks. but the public assistance doesn't get me through the month. >> suddenly there's a scuffle. , during the interview, taoufik's friends were busy in the background. they stole a cell phone belonging to a man from mali. he wants it back. >> don't forget! don't forget! >> the dispute moves into the hallway. scenes like this are par for the course at this refugee shelter in dusseldorf. but the true capital of thieves and pickpockets is berlin. there were 40,000 such crimes here last year. it's a booming business, and federal police units are trying to stem the tide.
we speak with two plainclothed -- plane-clothes officers on patrol, sven lichtenberg and nadine n, who doesn't want us to show her face. >> the nationality fits. >> they're switching platforms, looking for luggage and victims. all three are wearing backpacks, walking slowly, practically creeping along the platform. >> i'm observing the two standing in front of us, and nadine is watching the 3 standing behind me. >> it's rush hour at alexanderplatz in berlin. a young man on the stairs catches their eye. he's walking behind a young woman, and his hands are covered by a jacket. carefully, and almost unnoticeably, he opens the tourist's backpack. then he strikes. >> federal police. hold on. if look at your backpack. it's open.
>> a skilled pickpocket can earn up to 30,000 euros a month. most of the pickpockets are young, and learned their craft as children. it's a profitable business and not a particularly risky one. when they're caught, they're arrested and brought in for identification. but then most are let go. >> our problem, which our officers find increasingly frustrating, is that we arrest people two, three or four times, and they're out again. this isn't a blanket criticism of the justice system, parts of which are dealing with massive staffing shortages, and they have to work within the bounds of the law. it's not that easy to get -- to detain people. >> back to dusseldorf's maghreb district. despite police raids and patrols, the drug dealers and thieves are plying their trade. they're resourceful and just move to another staging point. the gangs make life difficult
for local businesses and residents. a drug dealer recently smashed the windows of a bar frequented by moroccans. the local community is at a loss. >> they are not afraid of prison. for them, german prisons are like a hotel, and that doesn't worry them. >> police say half the criminals here are from morocco. until recently, only criminals who received prison sentences of at least three years were eligible for deportation. the german government is set to -- the german government wants to make it easier for asylum-seekers who commit crimes to be deported if they receive sentences of a year or more. but the deportation process is often complicated. >> morocco doesn't voluntarily repatriate many people. morocco says, yes, we have a repatriation agreement and we'll observe it, but only when it's certain that the people you're sending back are actually
moroccans. the people in question know they can manage quite well here without identity papers. the moroccan embassy is anything but cooperative when it comes to issuing new passports. the embassy knows this, the people know this, so we have little way to deport them. >> taoufik and his friend aren't concerned. until now, they've never received a sentence that would make them eligible for deportation. and they are not alone. last year, only a tiny portion of convictions resulted in a deportation. >> when we think of the atrocities committed by nazi germany during the holocaust, lithuania rarely springs to mind. but for centuries, the country was home to a large and prosperous jewish population. in fact, vilnius now the capital was once known as the jerusalem , of lithuania. when the nazis arrived, the jewish population was practically wiped out. this history was largely overlooked until now.
a new book on lithuania's role in holocaust crimes has taken the country by storm and led to many asking itself the country is ready to confront its past. >> a cluster of overgrown mounds on disused land marks the site of a massacre. here, outside the city of kaunas, lithuania, lie the remains of an estimated 5000 jews. over 70 years ago they were , rounded up, marched to this spot and killed by their own countrymen, says ruta vanagaite. but such things haven't been talked about in lithuania before now. best-selling author ruta vanagaite has written a book on lithuanians' complicity in the holocaust. >> 5000 citizens of lithuania killed by another couple of hundreds of our citizens is not an important part of our history? it's the first mass murder site in lithuania ever. so it's worth of just kind of , this stick?
and in a private territory, and the feasts are being organized there? it just says a lot of bad things about my country and about the attitude towards the people who were killed. >> on the outskirts, a local resident recalls her grandmother's account of what was witnessed. nearly 2000 jews were murdered here. >> grandmother told me that the jews across the pond over there, then they collected their valuables, glasses, wedding rings, and someone, and led them up the force an -- and made them lineup. then came the machine gun fire. they all fell into the pit. my grandmother told me the pit was full of bodies as a bowl of soup.
and who brought the jews there? the lithuanians, who else? there weren't any germans there. maybe one or two food standing off to one side. >> nazi germany carries the principal responsibility for the holocaust, but how great was the complicity of the lithuanians? this is the subject of a bitter debate waging in the country. she spent half a year scouring the archives. she discovered her own family had been involved in the mass murder of lithuanian jews. >> here lies was myalso was thea killer, but he was one of the people who made this massacre possible. it means my country's history, victims, heroes could've been
participants. >> in the summer of 1941, german forces occupied lithuania. many of the way means welcomed them as liberators. they said that the wing answers the furor. the not sees have no problems finding collaborators. there can be no doubt that with their help, over 90% of the filling you's jews died in the holocaust. ruta is not afraid to face her critics. on the internet, she has been reviled as a traitor. >> you see the lithuanians light killing jews. i doubt that. >> i did not write that.
>> i have not read the book. >> that is how it is. nobody has read the book, but everybody think i want to harm the the when you. -- i want to harm lithuania. >> her first goal should be making a list. >> he recites the mourners cottage, a prayer for the dead. his great uncle was murdered in the following year. as director of the center in jerusalem, he is one of the principal not see hunters. -- nazi hunters.
>> this is no different than dozens of such places. beautiful forest. all of a sudden, you have a mass murder site. they never considered people like us that the memory should be expected. the place i neglected never visited. no one ever thought that these people were there. ruta said the situation is unacceptable. they intend to carry on until lithonia is ready to face its past. ♪
michelle: the second installment of our series, european worlds, we had to an island just off the southwest coast. we finally underground facility, the world's first nuclear waste repository. it is a deep bunker car from solid rock and designed to hold high-level waste, for 100,000 years. present sites are temporary an require a lot of maintenance. but this one aims to bury the waste forever. the u.s. attempted to build a similar vicinity. but both -- but due to a political outcry, the project never got off the ground. but in finland, the government's plants is supported with little objection from local residents. >> it could be famous for its
picturesque houses. the town in southwestern finland has been declared a world heritage site. instead,ramma is making headlines. it has been in service for three decades a third reactors under construction. soon the first repository will be located here, too. it will be buried deep underground and solid by a -- with a layer of solid rock. the plan is to store nuclear waste there for 100,000 years. in those countries, this would spark protest. or at least be seen as a cause for concern. yet talking to the people reveals the opposite. >> if the politicians tell us it
is a, it is. it is the right location. >> i trust the technicians. they are finish. they don't seem to be worried about the potential risks. one of the passengers on the bus thinks otherwise though. he is not happy that the world's first repository for nuclear waste will be located in finland. >> they are doing it so fast. we should no clear way somewhere but it is not so easy. >> we want to see where it will be stored. so, we traveled underground to a depth of 120 meters below sea level.
these billion-year-old rock walls are supposed to contain radiation. we are joined by a geologist and a power plant employee. >> we can go under the tunnel to see what kind of hold these are. >> the plan is to drill holes into the rock to enable nuclear fuel runs to be inserted. >> it has many stages where we gather what we have and then make a decision, is it possible to make the whole are not. it is a maze of tunnels. it will take 100 years for all of them in's to be sealed. it will take 100,000 years until the radiation subsites. but who knows for sure what will
happen in 100,000 years? >> i don't know. the rocket cell stays. if there is an ice age, we will have some rock lifting. otherwise it's hard to say. if you think backwards the same time there are millions of things that have happened during that time. >> but this will be safe? >> this will be safe. >> not even the fear of an ice age seems to be able to rattle the finnish people. even if that prospect could destroy the tunnel system. >> i think this is a better place anyhow than to keep the radioactive used fuel outside. >> but tanja virtanen however
has misgivings. we meet tanja and her children in rauma, near the nuclear power plant. she knows that finns use lots of electricity. but her family is an exception, they use wood to heat their house and sauna. but will this suffice? she worries about the next generation. >> nothing that dangerous can be safe for 100% sure, so many years, so long time. so, it is too risky. if people would think about it just a moment they would understand it. >> the nuclear fuel will be contained behind a rock wall. and surrounded by a wall of silence. the operators will not be installing public warning signs. >> it might be better to be forgotten. because if we think backwards in time. we already have difficulties understanding what the egyptians tried to tell us with their language.
>> so, the plan seems to be to try to forget about the storage facility. everything is already settled and the local residents know a protest would fall on deaf ears. >> in this area, they are afraid. there has been so much pressure for those who have been shouting these things out. >> as we returned home doubts , remain. for instance, how thick will the rock walls need to be to withstand the force of nature? it's a question that doesn't seem to be at the forefront of most people's minds. michelle: what do you think is the best solution for storing nuclear waste? can you think of a better alternative? let us know what you think about that or any of today's stories by getting in touch on facebook, e-mail, or twitter. and many of you did get in touch after damien asked for your thoughts on denmark's meatball
wars and whether or not the , influx of migrants is causing denmark and other european countries to lose their culture. merle from texas, says that a country has the right and responsibility to defend its culture. gareth feels that migrants should not lose their identities. and susan from canada says that culture is constantly in flux and that migrants are in fact adding to denmark's culture. we enjoyed receiving and reading your responses and look forward to more. italy is a country known for its coffee, its fashion and for its food. in milan, there is an unexpected addition to its cuisine culture. a public restaurant, called galera, has opened inside the city's bollate prison. staffed by prisoners, its purpose is to provide rehabilitation by teaching skills for the outside world. the restaurant is not only praised by diners for its excellent food and service but also by its staff who say that working there has given them new purpose. the men say it gives a whole new meaning to serving your sentence.
>> at bollate, it's apparent as soon as we entered the prison at bollate, it's apparent that something unusual is happening here. but it takes a keen eye to find the restaurant, hidden behind the plain facades. visitors enter through a secure door, opened by chef massimo. >> welcome to galera, or welcome to jail. inside, the stark walls give way to an attractive, modern dining room. the posters on the walls lend a touch of irony. the waiters, impeccably dressed, are all prisoners. one of them is mimmo. we don't find out why he's here, but he says he has 8 years left to serve. the sentence is not the problem, it is the work. the sentence has a beginning and end. but afterwards, you have to work to feed your children.
it used to be hard for me to get through one hour of work. i could hardly wait to get back to my cell. >> that's one of the main goals, to give vocational training to people who've never held a steady job. some like giuseppe want to remain anonymous. even with 10 more years to go he's committed to the project. ,>> when you are locked up for so many years, social contact to other people is an added motivation. and you can learn a lot here. >> the outside world also benefits. before the restaurant, the prisoners here ran a catering service. after release only about 20% , return to prison. elsewhere in italy, the rate for re-offending is nearly 70%. >> i feel better and more confident. i used to dread returning to life outside after so many years in jail.
but, now i am sure i will find work. >> prison restaurant offers the finest italian cuisine as the guests confirm. >> the quality of the food is excellent. in a prison, i have not seen anything like it in 60 years. >> it's very nice here, but but a bit hard to run off without paying the check. >> for the guests, it's an evening of fine dining in an unusual setting. but they can leave when they're finished. michelle: it's good to see prisoners to's -- getting a chance to serve more than just their time. that brings uso the end of today's show. i look forward to seeing you next time. until then, it's goodbye from me and the whole "focus on europe" ♪
steves: since the romantic era in the 19th century, luzern has been a regular stop on the grand tour route of europe. [ whistle blows ] its inviting lakefront now includes a modern concert hall, which incorporates the lake into its design. the old town, with a pair of picture-perfect wooden bridges, straddles the reuss river, where it tumbles out of lake luzern. the bridge was built at an angle in the 14th century
to connect the town's medieval fortifications. today, it serves strollers, rather than soldiers, as a peaceful way to connect two sides of town. many are oblivious to the fascinating art just overhead. under the rafters hang about 100 colorful 17th-century paintings showing scenes from luzern and its history. this legendary giant dates to the middle ages, when locals discovered mammoth bones, which they mistakenly thought were the bones of a human giant. here's luzern in about 1400, the bridge already part of the city fortifications. and luzern looked like this in 1630. luzern is responsible for controlling the lake level. by regulating the flow of water out of its lake, the city prevents the flooding of lakeside villages when the snow melts. in the mid-19th century, the city devised and built this extendable dam.
by adding and taking away these wooden slats, they could control the level of the lake. swans are a fixture on the river today. locals say they arrived in the 17th century as a gift from the french king, louis xiv, in appreciation for the protection his swiss guards gave him. switzerland has a long history of providing strong and loyal warriors to foreign powers. the city's famous lion monument recalls the heroism of more swiss mercenaries. the mighty lion rests his paws on a french shield. tears stream down his cheeks. the broken-off end of a spear is slowly killing the noble beast. the sad lion is a memorial to over 700 swiss mercenaries who were killed, defending marie antoinette and louis xvi during the french revolution. the people of luzern take full advantage of their delightful river with a variety of cafes and restaurants along its banks. this evening, we're enjoying the setting as much as the food.