When love turns to hate: four women and one man were allegedly killed by their spouses in Thuringia last year. This emerges from the Interior Ministry’s response to a small question from the Greens, Astrid Rothe-Beinlich and Madeleine Henfling, members of the state parliament. Three other men were believed to have been killed by their partners with whom they had been cohabiting or whose relationships had previously ended.

However, the response from the Ministry of the Interior also makes it clear that the police either do not collect many details about cases of domestic violence or are unable to statistically evaluate them. No statements are made as to how many children have become victims of such attacks, either directly or indirectly – for example because they themselves were beaten or had to watch one partner attack the other. According to the ministry, girls and boys under the age of 14 are not recorded or listed as victims in the statistics on domestic violence.

The ministry also cannot say how many of the alleged perpetrators of the deadly assaults had previously become conspicuous through acts of violence. “The state government has no statistical information in the sense of the question,” it said in the reply. Henfling criticized the fact that the police’s obvious gaps in knowledge were incomprehensible. This is all the more shocking because such knowledge could potentially help prevent human deaths.

It is known from sociological studies and from the experiences of victim advisors, for example, that in the case of violence in the family, other acts of violence are often committed first before murder or manslaughter. “A lot usually happens before a murder occurs,” said Henfling. If the police know, for example, that certain perpetrators have been encroaching for a long time, they can intervene in good time.

However, it is not only the police who are clearly lacking in dealing with domestic violence. “I believe that the explosiveness of the topic is not recognized in the entire state government,” said Henfling. The protection of children from violence in the family has not improved in recent years, nor are there enough places in Thuringian women’s shelters. “We’re pretty bare there.”

According to the Interior Ministry, the police registered about 3,500 cases of domestic violence last year. About 2,400 of the victims were women. About 2,650 men were registered as alleged perpetrators. Because the police have changed their recording system for these crimes since 2021, comparisons with previous years are not possible, according to the ministry.

In the past two years, there has also been a scientific debate as to whether the lockdowns during the first phase of the corona pandemic led to more domestic violence in Germany – partly because those affected had fewer opportunities due to the imposed restrictions on private and public life to move outside of their home.