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Anti-Muslim Group Pegida to Hold Cologne Rally After Mass Sexual Assault 

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Pegida spokesperson says mass sexual assaults at Cologne train station vindicates her group’s call for a freeze on immigrants entering Germany.

The German anti-Muslim group Pegida will hold a rally outside the Cologne train station where dozens of women were sexually assaulted by a group of men on New Year’s Eve.

“Cologne police chief Wolfgang Albers said speculation that the attackers were refugees was ‘absolutely inadmissible’”.

Witnesses and police said that the men involved were of Arab or North African appearance. Pegida are looking to capitalize on anti-immigrant fears in the wake of the attacks, and announced on its Facebook page that it will hold a rally on Saturday outside the train station.

“We don’t currently have any suspects, so we don’t know who the perpetrators were,” he said. “All we know is that the police at the scene perceived that it was mostly young men aged 18 to 35 from the Arab or North African region.”

— Cologne police chief Wolfgang Albers

Pegida spokesperson Tatjana Festerling said that the attacks vindicated her group’s call for a freeze on immigrants entering Germany.

“They are exactly what we have been warning for over a year,” she told Russia Today.

Pegida supporters rally outside Cologne cathedral in January 2015

Pegida supporters rally outside Cologne cathedral in January 2015

“In Germany, this so-called ‘welcome culture’ is like a religion, and everybody who criticizes uncontrolled flooding with mostly Muslim young men is called a Nazi and has to shut up.”

— Pegida spokesperson Tatjana Festerlin

She claimed that the assaults would rightfully boost anti-immigrant sentiment in the country, as “one cannot blame people that they have become more radical facing this attack on our liberal order”, she said.

“In Germany, this so-called ‘welcome culture’ is like a religion, and everybody who criticizes uncontrolled flooding with mostly Muslim young men is called a Nazi and has to shut up,” she said.

On 31 December, a crowd of around 1,000 men, many of whom were drunk and aggressive, had gathered in the square outside the station and started letting off fireworks. Police eventually evacuated the area because of the risk of injury from the fireworks.

However, gangs of young men soon returned and carried out dozens of attacks and robberies over a number of hours, with little apparent response from the local authorities until well after midnight.

German chancellor Angela Merkel has expressed outrage over the “disgusting attacks” and interior minister Thomas de Maiziere has criticized the police for their handling of the attack.

On 5 January, over 300 people took part in a demonstration against sexual violence outside Cologne station.

“Mrs Merkel, where are you? What do you say? This is scary,” read a sign held by one demonstrator.

Cologne authorities have warned that it is too early to blame immigrants for the attacks, with nobody having yet been arrested or charged in connection with the incident. Read the rest of this entry »

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Object of Intrigue: the Prosthetic Iron Hand of a 16th-Century Knight

(Photos: Landesarchiv Baden-Württemberg/Wikipedia)

Ella Morton writes: Fierce German mercenary knight Götz von Berlichingen loved a good feud. As a soldier for hire in the early 1500s, he and his rogue crew of rabble-rousers fought on behalf of whichever Bavarian dukes and barons had the biggest beefs and the fattest wallets.

But all this battling came at a personal cost. In 1504, while fighting in the siege of the southeast German town of Landshut in the name of Albert IV, the Duke of Bavaria, the 23-year-old Berlichingen was hit by an enemy cannonball. Accounts vary over what happened next, but either way, it was dramatic—some say the ball hit Berlichingen’s sword, inadvertently causing him to cut off his own right arm. Others say it was the cannonball itself that robbed Berlichingen of his rapier-wielding appendage.

[Read the full text here, at Atlas Obscura]

Regardless of the details, a hand was gone, and the knight had to find a new way to fight. The adjustment didn’t take long. Shortly after his unfortunate encounter with the cannonball, Berlichingen began sporting a clinking, clanking right hand made of iron.

Berlichingen’s first iron hand, made for him by an unknown artist shortly after the 1504 battle. (Photo: Landesarchiv Baden-Württemberg/Wikipedia)

The first hand was a basic affair. Two hinges at the top of the palm allowed the four hook-like fingers to be brought inward for sword-holding purposes, but that was the extent of its motion. There was some attention paid to aesthetic detail, though, including sculpted fingernails and wrinkles at the knuckles.

[Read the full story here, at Atlas Obscura]

Still, Berlichingen did not allow his newfound lack of manual dexterity to slow him down. He continued to lead his band of mercenaries in battle. His career, wrote Dr. Sharon Romm in an article on false arms in Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, “consisted of fighting, gambling, and money lending,” for which he “gained a reputation as a Robin Hood who protected the peasants against their oppressors.” Kidnapping nobles for ransom and attacking merchants for their wares was just part of the gig.

Berlichingen, left, in his standard "no time for your nonsense" mode. (Image: Archiv Burg Hornberg/Wikipedia)

Berlichingen, left, in his standard “no time for your nonsense” mode. (Image: Archiv Burg Hornberg/Wikipedia)

After a few years of fighting with a serviceable yet inflexible false hand, Berlichingen upgraded to a superior model. His second iron hand, which extended to the end of his forearm and was secured with a leather strap, was “a clumsy structure, but an ingenious one,” according to the American Journal of Surgery.  Read the rest of this entry »