Entries in Berlin (5)


Mysterious 'Forest Boy' Identified by German Police -- The mysterious young man who emerged in Berlin nearly a year ago claiming he had been living inside the German forest with his father for five years has now been identified, according to German police.

The young man, who has since been known only as Ray, has been identified as 20-year-old Robin van Helsum, from the Dutch town of Hengelo.  German police tell ABC News that van Helsum was 19 when he went missing nine months ago, and that his stepmother identified him from the photo released earlier this week.

"We are 100 percent certain that he is this 20-year-old boy, because his stepmother positively identified him," a police spokeswoman told Die Welt newspaper.  "We have made contact with his family and friends.  A photo where you could see him with a chain round his neck showing his name provided the proof.  We are very glad that he has been found."

Van Helsum's story -- that his mother, Doreen, had been killed in a car accident, and that he had lived in the forest with his father, Ryan, until his death last summer -- is now believed to be a lie.  He was the subject of a lengthy investigation by German police and the international police organization Interpol.

Authorities tell ABC News that van Helsum, who is now living in social care housing in Berlin, seems not to suffer mental problems.  Police have no idea what his motives were with the hoax, and they are questioning him again on Friday.

"Forest boy," as van Helsum cane to be known in the German press, wandered into the German capital nine months ago, carrying only a tent and a backpack.  He told police he had been walking for five days to get to Berlin.  He called himself Ray and told authorities that both of his parents were dead.

Authorities went to painstaking lengths to identify van Helsum, having checked his DNA with international missing person lists, made public appeals, and sent his fingerprints around the world, all to no avail.  It was only this week that he allowed his photo to be released.

"There were things that did not fit with his story -- he was relatively clean and the tent he had with him did not look like it had been used for five years," Thomas Neuendorf of the Berlin police told German news website The Local.

According to German police, van Helsum insisted that he buried his father before starting his five-day trek that landed him in Berlin. Yet he doesn't know where his father died, police say.

Because he spoke English with an accent, German investigators thought that one or both of his parents could be American or British.

"This is no joke anymore," Berlin police spokesman Michael Maaß told Die Welt. "He made right fools of us. The costs could come down to him."

There are no immediate plans for what will next happen to van Helsum.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Occupy Wall Street: Thousands Join the Movement

Johannes Simon/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Occupy Wall Street movement that has sparked protests across the nation and the world enters its fifth week today as more demonstrations are planned.

This weekend, the protests and demonstrations expanded across Europe and in Asia and Australia.

In London Sunday morning, outside St Paul's Cathedral, a colorful tent city popped up overnight, where the police have allowed the protesters to remain to demonstrate peacefully.

The cold weather did not deter the protesters as they said they will stay for as long as it takes.

Most of the protests around the world sparked by the movement were peaceful, but in Rome a small group broke away from the main protest and smashed shop windows and torched a car.

As Rome burned, the protests spread like wildfire from Berlin where 4,000 people tried to march to the cities parliamentary buildings to Frankfurt where they converged on the European Central Bank.

In the U.S., protests focused on everything from corporate greed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

On Saturday, protesters gathered and marched in effort to bring awareness to corporate greed in Birmingham, Ala. Occupy Birmingham organizer Allyn Hudson said demonstrators are tired of the wealthy 1 percent and corporations controlling political decisions.

"People in America are concerned with having their voices drowned out by an endless tidal wave of money that is purchasing our politicians. We want our government to be free of such influence," Hudson said.

In Sacramento, Calif., as protesters gathered at Cesar Chavez Park, among those speaking was well known war protester and California native Cindy Sheehan.

"Economic and social equality that we seek cannot be achieved without complete and unconditional peace," she said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Nazi Secretary Breaks Her Silence on Hitler's Propaganda Chief

PhotoQuest/Getty Images(BERLIN) -- She kept a promise of silence and secrecy for 66 years.  A promise made to one of the vilest leaders of Nazi Germany.

Now, Brunhilde Pomsel, 100 years old, is talking about her time as secretary to Joseph Goebbels, propaganda chief for Adolph Hitler, a man who railed against Jews and once wrote, “Adolf Hitler, I love you because you are both great and simple at the same time.  What one calls a genius.”

All these years later, his secretary calls him something else.

“I will never forgive Goebbels for what he brought into this world,” Pomsel tells Bild, Germany’s most widely-read paper. “And the fact that he could murder his innocent children in this way.”

Pomsel worked for Goebbels from 1942 until May 1, 1945 -- a week before V-E Day -- when he killed himself in Berlin.

“He got away lightly with suicide,” she says.  “He knew he would be condemned to death by the Allies.  His suicide was cowardly, but he was also smart because he knew what was coming if he didn’t take that way out.”

Countless books have been written about Goebbels and his role in the war, but none had the benefit of a conversation with Pomsel, whose job was to take down Goebbels’ every word -- “The Jews must get out of Germany, indeed out of Europe altogether", "The Jews ought to please observe the laws of hospitality and not behave as if they were the same as us,” and so on.

Pomsel tells Bild she was asked to work for Goebbels because she was a fast typist.

“It was an order to be transferred to work for him. You couldn’t refuse,” she said.

And while Pomsel kept notes on all her boss’ hate-mongering, she also claims -- in colorful language -- to have never known about the horrors that were underway.

“I didn’t know about the Holocaust.  I was a stupid, politically uninterested little sausage of simple means.  I only learned about the Jewish extermination program after the war,” she recalled.

In 1945, Pomsel was in the cellars of the propaganda ministry in Berlin.  The city was being leveled by British and American bombers, and Russian artillery. Nazi Germany was in its death throes.

“On May 1 the news came that The Boss -- Hitler -- had committed suicide the day before,” Pomsel tells Bild.  “The Russians came shortly afterwards and dragged me from the cellar.  I spent the next five years as a prisoner of the Russians in special camps.”

Later, Pomsel learned about her boss’ final hours. Goebbels and his wife Magda had killed their six children by breaking cyanide vials in their mouths. Goebbels then shot his wife before shooting himself.  Their charred corpses were discovered by the Soviet Army.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


London Has Worst Traffic in Europe

File Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LONDON) – London is the most congested city in Europe, according to traffic provider NAVTEQ.

The company released a list of Europe’s 10 most congested cities in regards to traffic, based on the duration of rush-hour delays in cities with more than one million people.

Paris came in second on the list, followed by Dublin, Berlin and Stockholm. Others cities on the list include Hamburg, Manchester, Lyon, Vienna and Marseilles.

According to NAVTEQ, traffic congestion can be caused by a combination of topographical characteristics, population and transportation systems.

"These circumstances and many others intersect with time to produce traffic," said Andreas Erwig, Director of NAVTEQ Traffic Europe. "Because the fascinating complexity of traffic is that it's not only about movement from here to there, but from now to then."

GPS, sensor data and information from police and emergency services were used to gather information for the study. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Book Bomb Terror Campaign Spreads From Athens to Berlin

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BERLIN) -- A book bomb under investigation Tuesday at the chancellor’s office in Berlin appears to be possibly linked to a bomb campaign discovered in Athen’s Greece Monday when a small firebomb ignited, injuring a shipping clerk and leading police to the discovery of three more devices as well as the arrest of two bombers.

The incendiary bomb in a hollowed out book went off in the hands of a shipping clerk at Swift Mail in Athens Monday as she was preparing to ship it to a Mexican Embassy and triggered a rapid police response that recovered three unexploded book bombs addressed to embassies and political figures  following the arrest of two individuals there. Tuesday, a similar bomb was under investigation at the chancellor’s office in Berlin, police sources say.

According to a police report from Greece, the rapid police response led to the arrest of two young men about two blocks away from the shipping firm as they were entering a metro station clad in bullet proof vests and wearing wigs. Two nine millimeter Glock pistols and five full magazines were recovered.

According to the report, in addition to the bomb that exploded, the men admitted to attempting to mail other bombs and appeared to have been carrying one in a plastic bag when approached by police. The recovered bombs were addressed to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, a Belgian embassy and a Dutch Embassy. The one to Sarkozy was also recovered at Swift Mail. The one to the Beligan Embassy was recovered at a second shipping firm ACS and the one in their possession was addressed to a Dutch Embassy.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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