Producer
Director
Markus Brauckmann, Christian Wiermer
Producer
16:9 HDTV
Genre
Documentary
Broadcaster
RTL
Length
1 x 45'
Editor
Year
2016
The Night of Helplessness
How New Year's Eve in Cologne got out of control

New Year's Eve 2015 in Cologne. For ten hours, the central square of a German city of millions is a lawless space. A place where the state loses control - and leaves its citizens behind. It is the night that deeply shakes the citizens' trust in their state. The night that changes everything.

What still seems like a peaceful New Year's Eve in the early evening hours of 31 December 2015 around Cologne Central Station turns into a nightmare overnight. Eyewitnesses describe the scenes between the main station and the cathedral steps as "like a civil war". Groups of perpetrators form again and again. Most of them are intoxicated, drunk and uninhibited. They shoot fireworks into the crowd, fight and make a ruckus. But above all, they steal. And they harass hundreds of women. The emergency services on site are understaffed, haphazard and overwhelmed. In the end, there are more than a thousand criminal charges and well over a thousand alleged victims.

How can something like this happen? How can anarchy rage for hours on end in one of Cologne's busiest squares? Could the catastrophe have been prevented? It is a story that races around the globe. Topics such as security in the constitutional state, dealing with strangers, false tolerance and a "naive welcome culture" find new fuel in this night.

The 45-minute documentary meticulously reconstructs the night, its causes and its consequences to this day. After nine months of intensive research, we show previously unpublished archive material. For the first time ever, we hear police radio traffic and people's emergency calls directly from the night. These are the voices of young girls, women and men who became victims that night and on whom the moments of powerlessness gnaw to this day. New video footage from security forces, mobile phone videos from eyewitnesses and surveillance cameras provide a meticulous account of what happened. Victims and eyewitnesses, police representatives, prosecutors, politicians and journalists have their say. A broad and colourful ensemble that reflects not only the significance of the night for Cologne and Germany, but also the international scope.

A production of LAMBDA Stories & News GmbH.

First broadcast: Monday, 12 December 2016, 22:15 on RTL EXTRA-Spezial.

The Night of the Faint - How New Year's Eve in Cologne Got Out of Control

New Year's Eve 2015 in Cologne. For ten hours, the central square of a German city of millions is a lawless space. A place where the state loses control - and leaves its citizens behind. It is the night that deeply shakes the citizens' trust in their state. The night that changes everything.

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