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Facts and Findings

Causes of the New Year's Eve riots

by Rauf Ceylan, Michael Kiefer

The socio-spatial background of street violence

New Year's Eve 2022/2023 resulted in riots and violence in several German cities. Emergency services and police increasingly became the target of violent attacks. These events have reignited a debate about the socio-spatial context of street violence. Especially after Federal Minister of the Interior and Community, Nancy Faeser, publicly commented on specific problems of young immigrants in Germany. This publication addresses the causes of violence and its consequences.

The New Year's Eve 2022/2023 in Germany was marked by riots in many cities. Initial efforts to categorize and evaluate the events focused primarily on the migration background of the alleged perpetrators. However, references to culturally conditioned concepts of masculinity or to religious factors turned out to be  too shortsighted. The events of New Year's Eve are not to be understood as singular phenomena, but rather as an expression of complex and increasing problems in many urban areas in Germany. In many cases, a bundle of root-causes can be identified., which can be described with the term of social disintegration.

Disintegration is manifested, among other things, by a lack of access to education, to regular work, to adequate housing, and to cultural services. In this context, poverty is a particularly important factor leading to disintegration. Measures of socio-spatial integration and neighbourhood management seem to be suitable for preventing such escalation of violence and for reducing conflict potential.

You can read the complete analysis and arguments "Causes of the New Year's Eve riots" here as a PDF.

Please note that to date, the discussion paper is only available in German.