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Saturday, 27 April, 2002, 17:06 GMT 18:06 UK
German press agonises over massacre
Erfurt residents console each other
Many Germans see such images as a US phenomenon
The German press reflects the country's shock and bewilderment over the Gutenberg high school massacre.

The Erfurt shooting is "Ground Zero for raising our children", the popular tabloid paper Bild says in a commentary.

"With 7.2 million weapons in circulation it is not difficult for young people to arm themselves."

Erfurt-based Thueringer Allgemeine Zeitung

The paper blames violence on television and computer games for the massacre in which 17 died.

It describes the shooting as a "wake-up call" and "warning sign" for German society and politicians. Parents as well as politicians have failed, it says.

Gun culture

The Erfurt-based Thueringer Allgemeine Zeitung, in a commentary entitled "Defenceless", asks what can be done to protect Germany's children.

The paper blames the increased availability of handguns in Germany for the tragedy. "With 7.2 million weapons in circulation it is not difficult for young people to arm themselves."

The centrist Sueddeutsche Zeitung also highlights the issue, calling for better controls over weapons, including licensed ones.

"If licensed guns were properly locked up the number of killers and their victims would undoubtedly be reduced," the paper says.

"Unstable young people must not be left to their own devices"

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

In an editorial entitled "Stunned", the centre-left Der Tagesspiegel raises questions about the psychology of 19-year old Robert Steinhaeuser, and what led him to kill teachers and pupils from his former school.

"But this knowledge will not bring the dead to life, ease the pain or stop the tears," the paper says.

Not only USA

"Images of children and parents in shock, clutching each other and weeping, of dead bodies being carried on stretchers through the school yard are images we would expect only to come from the USA," says a commentary from the right-of-centre Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

But the commentator says that incidences of violence at German schools have been on the increase for many years.

"Unstable young people must not be left to their own devices."

The conservative Die Welt agrees that Germany's schools are no longer a safe place for the country's children.

Describing the massacre as "disturbing, shocking, indescribable", the paper calls on society to take more determined, decisive action against violence.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

See also:

26 Apr 02 | Europe
Eyewitness: Erfurt massacre
27 Apr 02 | Europe
School slaughter stuns Germany
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